Okay. So after much pushing and shoving from some close friends and family members I finally decided to do something with my photos. I MADE A BOOK. Sound the horns someone! Please! However, there are a lot of mixed feelings on my part in crafting the book. I’ll take it from the top starting at the title and into the self-publishing process.
Looking at the title of my own book feels a lot like playing “two truths and a lie.” The first truth is that you will find instant gratification throughout the book. The second is that there are tons of photos for your coffee table. The money in my pocket part is the “lie” of sorts in this case. Anyone who knows me well enough knows I have a real LOVE/HATE relationship with money. (I’m trying to correct this everyday.) The equation is as follows:
I LOVE MONEY + I HATE MONEY = I NEED ONLY ENOUGH TO BE COMFORTABLE.
The background behind all that could take a very long boring minute to explore, but I’m sure there is someone who can relate on that level alone. All that being said, the truth is I’m using this first installment of photos as a charity/fund raiser project so none of the money really goes into MY pockets.
Much title credit also belongs to my mother, who in a conversation with her highly frustrated daughter (ME) stated, “All everyone wants is instant gratification.” Don’t they? I was frustrated because we live in an age of rushed success which many gain and haven’t a clue what to do afterwards. (Look at many Hollywood stars and pro-athletes.) The following excerpt appears in the hard cover flap of my book and does not appear in the soft cover. Feel free to print and paste this into the soft cover if you choose to purchase that one instead of the hardcover. I think it sums up the general idea of what I’m trying to get at:
Our world is hungry and its inhabitants are hungrier. Success is demanded whether one is ready or not. Although, I feel this first collection of photographs is being bundled and formed into a book prematurely – many have disagreed and several more harsh critics will agree. This first volume is dedicated to all those who have pressured me into leaping off the bridge or doing more with my photos regardless of time. I’m not a huge believer in instant gratification. I would have taken five more years traversing the globe and fine tuning my photography skills. I do not believe success or becoming successful should be required by the age of six, 23, 31, or even 35. However, if one should achieve such then let the marching band in!
Success in my eyes is a life long process as is managing such once it is attained. I feel successful having completed this book and I’m hoping to find gratification within and from all the loving people who pushed me into this endeavor.
Additionally, there won’t be any money placed into my pocket from your purchase of this book. Since I don’t bake cookies, I’m using this book as a fund raising tool. All the profit will be donated to a charitable organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.
Adrienne C. Wilson
Self-Publishing / P-O-D with Blurb
It’s no secret now: Anyone can make a book. I did it. Several others have done it and you can do it too! I even suppose I could have gone off a while ago and made a book of my best photo work, but deep down inside I’m still a sucker for wanting to break into the industry the old-fashioned way. The very same way that seems to keep many books from seeing shelves or the light of day – convincing someone (supposedly and expert) that your book is so GREAT and so WORTHY of taking a risk on mass producing. The risk ultimately is that a really cool publisher will make your book with high hopes that it will sell, do VERY well and produce major returns for them and you. My attempts at convincing publishing houses in the past on a different book was not too successful. Think rejection letters, tears, discouragement and finally a light bulb! Why not zap the middle-man out of the picture and do this on your own?
Why not Blurb?
I discovered Blurb one day when I was messing around with my Flickr account. I visited their site and it was like BOOM! It’s time to make a baby – I mean book. Their website makes it look easy and it really is! First you have to download the Blurb BookSmart software onto your computer. The software is free to download and available for PC and Mac. My experience with the software wasn’t too bad. There were times when it would shut down and run rather slow, but I blame my cranky computer on the speed. Luckily the software saves automatically so you don’t have to rack your brain with trying to remember to save. Here are a few areas I think the software can be improved:
1. The text editor is a real pain in the bum-bum. Unless I missed a shortcut somewhere, editing text is a one text box at a time deal and there were times when I just wanted to knock out a whole page with several text boxes at one time. Meaning to edit the font, size, color, etc I would have to go box by box. And speaking of fonts I think they should add more options.
2. Even though they let you know about the trim line for full page bleeds it would be awesome if they included a trim light on the template layouts.
3. More template variety would be awesome and the ability to build on blank pages would be superb – especially cover templates.
Otherwise, I have very little griping about the software. It took me about three weeks to sort through photos, color correct, resize, upload, and plug everything into BookSmart. Once everything was done I hit the publish button and from there my world felt transformed. I went crazy and sent book announcements to the closest friends, family, and even a few lesser liked people on the totem pole. I wanted everyone to know about my book and order my book (even without having received my own copy/proof copy). Certainly this isn’t a wise thing to do in most cases, but it turned out fine in mine. I had decided from the start I didn’t want a lot of text in my book other than the index in the back, so I wasn’t worried about typos. I had also done all I could to my photos, so that was that.
All-in-all I felt great about my book until I went into the Blurb forums. This is when my heart dropped, sank to the bottom of my stomach and the worry set in. The negative feedback from other Blurb users seemed much more eye-popping than the scattered positive reviews. Suddenly I started imagining the disaster that would show up at my door step, but long story short my book arrived in great condition with excellent print quality, binding, etc. I was happy with Blurbs services and with the fruits of my labor as well. Over seven years of photographs from 13 different countries all beautifully placed in a book available to the masses.
If you build it they will come – right?
In summary I would definitely use Blurb again to make a book for pleasure, business, charity or whatever the cause may be. I’ll always be a sucker for the opinion of an expert and outsider, so I welcome all to invest in feeling gratified at once for once and sharing your thoughts here.
This brings me to one last point some of you may be wondering about – price. Great Glorious Grapes – why is it so expensive, right? For a full color 190 page hard cover book it costs $47.95 for Blurb’s people to make and for the soft cover it costs them $39.95. I decided to set my profit at $25 dollars and up due to the large quantity of photographs taken over seven years across the globe. All money made from the purchase will go towards a Global Village build I’m planning on leading next year with Habitat for Humanity. It’s actually a very good deal when you think of it.
Feel free to reach out and ask me anything from the Blurb process to everything. Share your own book publishing experiences here. Did you use Blurb for your own book? Have you purchased this book already and have a review to share?
Email info at adrienne-is dot com to find out how to get extra goodies along with your copy of Instant Gratification: Photos for your Coffee Table in Exchange for Money in my Pocket.