I have finally finished my first photo book (the book doesn’t have an ISBN number so I guess it is not technically a published book but anyway) printed in May by Blurb Books (blurb.com). I used their book software called BookSmart and it is very easy to use. To back track for a minute, this photo book is from a vacation that my wife and I took to Scotland in October 2007. Scotland is a beautiful landscape with friendly people and castles abound! We were in Scotland for two weeks which was plenty of time to tour the countryside and visit many cities, towns, and castles. In those two weeks I took close to 1,000 photos and from those 1,000 I chose around 300 for the book. To decide on my final images I went through three rounds of elimination which took about four weeks. The hardest part of the selection process is being objective and critiquing your own work. On the second selection round I found I had many of the same or similar images picked, and I knew that would make the book boring so I made the decision to have one of each image unless another image was from a different angle or had different lighting that gave another perspective of the subject. Now that I had selected the final images for the book I had to edit them.
I thought the editing process would be the hardest and longest part of the process. I was only 50% correct. At 10 weeks this felt like a never ending process. Keep in mind I worked only a few hours at a time in the evenings so it wasn’t like an all day everyday event for 10 weeks. For the book I didn’t want only all color or only all black and white (b&w) images, so when I would edit/retouch an image I would make a color, b&w, and fun/artsy image. Each night I would then rate the images based on presentation of the subject and most importantly on how I liked them, which leads back to being objective and critiquing my work. ARGH!!! In early February of this year I had finally edited and selected my final edited images for my book, and I needed a break. I watned this stupid book done and was starting to not care. Because this book was about our time in Scotland and not just a book of my work I took three weeks off to get away and refresh my vision for the book.
After being refreshed and gaining a new sense of wanting to finish this project, I started the book layout in April. With my recent research I knew the book layout would take longer than I had orginally thought. This part of the process took me only about 6 weeks (again, working a few hours in the evenings) so not too bad but it was the hardest part. The BookSmart software had a few quirks (since fixed in the newest version) but even that wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was trying to keep all my changes and new decisions consistent throughout the book. This being my first book, I knew I would learn a lot from it and hopefully not be scared from this experience (and want to make more books in the future). So, making little decisions on how to lay out the font on a page or a spread and then making those changes consistent throughout the book was hard and tedious. For example, I would make a change one night to the image layout and like the change but then have to manually make the change to the rest of the book (old verison of the BookSmart software), then the next night make another change to something else and edit the entire book again. Similarly, when my wife went into the file to make typo corrections, there was some sort of delay once you type the correction, so we found a few typos in our book after it was printed (which made the editor wife angry). As I have learned from my wife, who used to edit books for a living, consistency is key. Make a decision on what you want and stick with that decision and be consistent throughout the book. To quote my wife again she would said, “There is no right or wrong so make a decision and go with it, it is your book,” which looking back is very true and I am glad I listened to her.
With the book complete and my editor (the lovely wife) having made her edits and everything looking ok it was time to upload the 2GB (yes that is a ‘G’) file to Blurb. Ordering was very simple and they said that my book would be printed, shipped, and delivered in two weeks. After three days I was surprised to receive an email that my book had shipped. So after just one week I had my book in hand! I ordered a large landscape book, which is 13 x 11 inches, and once I opened the book I was blown away!! I had hoped the book would be nice but this was incredible! I showed the book to numerous people who loved the book, the content, and the paper, print, and binding quality. The finished book is 286 pages in 13 sections (areas/regions of Scotland). I got the dust cover option and that was well worth the price, high gloss, heavy paper, and excellent print quality. On most pages I had just one image per page but in several spots I placed either a large image or a panoramic image spanning two pages for a very dramtic look and feel. The biggest issue I had was the length of the book. At 286 pages that makes for a lot of content and a large price. You can buy a lot a things for $154 and that is crazy to pay for just one book but since I put in numerous hours, lost sleep, and enjoyed the vacation with my wife it was just a little price to pay for a book of our vacation.
For the gear heads out there; all images in the book were taken with the Canon 20D and the 17-40 f4, handheld.
Here are a few shots of the book. Here is the link to view some of the book and/or buy it from Blurb. http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2139380