Today we hear from Australian family history blogger Pauleen Cass who can be found at Family History Across the Seas. When Pauleen told me that she was going to publish a blog-to-book based on her A to Z Challenge entries, I invited her to share her story with us. In this post she tells about the process that she used to publish her keepsake editions for her family members.
A to Z Becomes Family Treasure
My passion, and the focus of my main blog, is family history so it was inevitable that this would carry through to the A to Z challenge 2012. Family history usually discusses the people and their lives, this challenge would focus on place as a character in its own right.
The theme I decided on was a dollop of travelogue combined with what I called a genealogue: a travel tale of the places important to the stories of our families (past and present).
My goal was to write something interesting for my fellow bloggers (the geographical/travel underpinning) but mainly to preserve the stories behind the places which might otherwise be lost from our family history.
My plan was to publish the posts in a blog-to-book thereby preserving the stories for my children and grandchildren.
Throughout April the blog toured many places in Papua New Guinea, Australia, England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. My fellow tourists included some of my regular readers and some newbies. Their comments encouraged me to reach the finish line.
In terms of my planned book, I decided that I would combine the A to Z posts with another series, 52 weeks of personal genealogy and history from 2011, as this also contained memories I wanted preserved beyond the digital world.
I’d used Blurb previously and been very happy with the standard of the publication I received. The benefits of using Blurb are:
1. It’s possible to bring in footnotes as well as the web links from the posts. This is important in family history where citing sources is critical.
2. The file is auto-saved as you work, so you can work at it progressively.
3. It provides different photo/text layouts per page so you can choose what suits that particular story.
4. The photos you’ve used in your posts are imported and placed into the photo boxes of the layout you choose per page.
5. You can select which posts you want from your blog.
6. It also imports comments if you want them included.
Because I’d decided to combine two hefty series, the initial book length was quite long. I think this affected some of the issues I had in preparing the book. So what do I see as the downsides of the Blurb blog-to-book process and what would I do differently?
1. In retrospect I would ensure my book size was smaller as I think some of the problems I had with this book arose from its length.
2. While the importation of footnotes and citations is automatic, it doubles up the citations, cross-referring to your own post, so some editing is required.
3. Some of the comments flowed over many pages, with blank spaces, again requiring editing.
4. The photos come in at what seem much lower resolution than that of the original photos, presumably they’ve been reduced to web-standard, and some have to be reduced further –a helpful exclamation mark tells you when it’s not up to print quality.
5. To ensue you have good quality photos throughout you may wish to re-import the photos you used in the blog post. This certainly gives a better quality final product, but is surely tedious. If you get stuck and can’t find the image you used on your computer, check its title on the blog and do a search.
6. If I was doing another long series I wanted to publish in print, I would copy all the photos from my post at the time, and put them in one folder. With the A to Z, I used photos from different file directories so it’s another challenge to go back and re-import them all.
7. Blurb didn’t cope with the fancy google maps I’d used or the slideshows. Again, more importing.
Based on my previous Blurb book I expect that I will be very happy with it once it’s completed. Only the individual writer can decide whether its worth the preparation and editing process of getting it print-ready. Because recording these stories is important to me, I’ve deemed it worthwhile, though I’ve had to take a break before finishing upgrading all the photos.
Have you had any experiences with limited run book services such as this? Have you ever published your blog posts in book form? Let us know your thoughts or experiences.