Blog to book with Blurb and Booksmart

Blog to Book: for some reason the cover looks grey here rather than sparkling white.

I’m in the throes of producing my second blog-to-book using Booksmart, the downloadable software by Blurb. At the beginning of this year I slurped up all my posts to date excluding the 52 weeks and Advent Calendar series. The posts were printed in a 240 glossy page book with a hard cover and with a back-up PDF e-book. Although on the expensive side I was very happy with the quality of the production and feel it was worthwhile. Next challenge was to publish my personal memories (52 weeks, Advent Calendar and A to Z challenge) into another book. I thought you might also be interested in how it works in case you’re keen to try it out for your own blog posts. I may come back with follow up comments after I’ve finished this one.

The process goes like this:

  • Download then activate the software
  • Choose the format of your book (landscape, portrait, square etc)
  • Choose blog to book as the type of book (near the bottom of the option list)
  • Log into your blog via the software
  • Choose which blog you want to publish
  • Choose whether you want to include your comments (I do because they add to the story)
  • Choose whether you want to include your hyperlinks as footnotes
  • Tick off all the posts you want to include
  • When you tick continue the program will slurp up all the photos for these posts. Depending how many images you use, this may take a little while.
  • Mine happily slurped up 328 photos, showed the process as complete, then froze while it thought about what to do next.

Eventually the book template uploads and you can start editing. A word from the unwise: you’re probably better off selecting a theme of topics eg the 52 weeks series or the A to Z challenge. On this occasion I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Currently running at 460 pages, I’m guessing by the time I’m done with my edits it will come down to the max permitted of 440. Last book I produced from 2010 and 2011 posts I went with premium pages but this time I’m going to chance it (like the old Aussie motto “chance it with Ansett”) with standard paper quality.

Once you’re into editing the book it’s straight forward enough but a bit tedious. You can change which page layout you use on each page, depending on how many photos you have for that post. The pictures may cause problems. I upload mine to the blog as medium standard and Blurb tells me that many are under-resolution for the size of the photo layout I choose. I then have a choice of clicking on their “fix resolution” button, making the photo smaller or go back and import the same photo at a higher res (actually usually just importing your original photo works)

You then have to cut the captions which have been sucked into the body of your post and either paste them into the caption box, if your layout permits or adding a caption list to the end/beginning of the post. So there’s a bit of fiddling around with editing to be done, all of which takes time. Occupational health advice: try to do all this on a big screen with a proper mouse, not on your laptop, as it plays havoc with your body if you constantly use the laptop mouse. I speak from experience.

None of this is rocket science and I’m already aware that going with the maximum pages isn’t the smartest choice I’ve ever made either. I could solve this problem by eliminating a batch of stories eg A to Z, and all I’d have to do would be to highlight the pages and delete them (again it will take time to complete that task). However I really want them all in one place so I will persevere.

If you need to grab back some space, just edit your comments so everything is not on a separate line, and use a text-only layout for pages where you have no photos.

One of the things I like about Blurb is that the document is always saved, and online, so you can just take up where you left off next time you go in.

I have a long way to go before I’m finished with this task and I know that I will be thoroughly sick of it by then, especially with my shoulder currently giving me some grief. BUT I also know that judging on my previous blog-to-book product it will look impressive and provide a lasting record of what could be a transient virtual world. As you can see I have more faith that the book will survive the years. I will also have a PDF copy so I have backup insurance .