Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Teaching - Blog Books

I mentioned on Friday that I had printed the 2010 version of my blog book. A few commentors asked what service I used and wanted to know more about the process of printing your blog. I am no expert on this but I have now printed two years worth and am happy with my books. After I printed the first one, 2009, I posted information on how I did it. Below is a repost of that information.

But first a few new bits of info. I used Blog2Print! both times. A few things changed on their website since I printed my first book, but I didn't really investigate those changes too much. I was satisfied with the first book and wanted my books to match, so I kept things the same. It did seem more expensive this time but I definitely had more pages in 2010 so that may have been the only reason. I can't remember what the base price was for my 2009 book. They did have more covers and styles to choose from this time.

And lastly, before you create your book, you might want to take some time to proof your blog for typos or other things that you wouldn't want in your book. Someone else told me that when I was working on my 2009 book. I didn't do it for either year because that's just a lot of reading and I am impatient. I usually catch the really bad typos right after I post and read my entries. So if they made it this far, they get to stay. But boy they really bug me in print. And on that note, here is my repost:

Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
Eleanor Roosevelt

I mentioned in my post on Friday that I had printed my blog in a book. Several commentors asked for information on what service I used to print my book and any tips I could share about the process. I am very happy with my book and do have some thoughts on the process and of course I am glad to share. But first, here is my lovely book.

I used the online service Blog2Print! I had searched online and found several other websites that offered blog printing. The product offerings between the various sites appear to be very similar in both price and options. I ultimately decided upon Blog2Print! because a fellow blogger and family member at From This Side of the Pond had printed hers with this service and she was pleased. I don't like to do a lot of product research myself and I trust her judgment. So, decision made.

There are a few tricky bits to the process of taking your blog to print that I learned along the way. I'll walk you through some of the process so you don't have the same frustrations that I did. The first step at Blog2Print! is to select your blogging platform. Blog2Print supports Blogger, TypePad, and WordPress. After selecting your platform, just type in your blog's web address and your blog is accessed. That step is easy.

This next step requires some forethought, which I did not have when I created my original blog book. I should say here that I ended up printing the second version of my blog book not the original. The original had a few problems. Here's why. The first option you are to choose for your book is the date range or post range that you want included in your book. Here's the screenshot of that step.

You can either select a specific date range or all posts. Under either of these options, you can further filter the content by including only selected labels. For example, if I wanted to have a complete blog book of my Sunday Schooled posts from the beginning of my blog time (January 2009), I would choose my date range from 01/01/2009 to present and then filter by my "Sunday Schooled" label.

Easy? Sure. But not if you are like me and like to change your mind. If you change your mind later and wish to expand the date range to use or which labels to filter by, you can NOT change this in the existing book you have created. You must start all over again with a new book. I confirmed this via a live online chat with a nice Blog2Print tech support person.

You can remove certain posts from your book but not add to the range you originally chose. In my situation, I originally chose a date range to include my entire blog. Then I changed my mind to print my blog by year. Since I started my blog in January 2009, I thought it would be a good idea to print an annual blog book with nice, neat date separation. My book, including many 2010 posts, was already created when I had this brilliant idea so I would either have to remove manually post-by-post over 80 posts (that's 80 mouse-clicks) or start a new book.

It's really not a big deal to start another book if you are just at the beginning steps of the process. But if you have gone through the rest of the process, think you are done and preview your book only to think you'd like things a little bit differently, you have just wasted a lot of time and are about to redo a lot of work.

If you have to create a second (or sadly a third) version, they are likely all named the same darn thing and show up that way in your account. The only distinguishing feature between the versions is a date stamp of when you last updated the book (which is likely the same date since you are likely just trying to get this thing printed and done in the middle of the night so you can finally go to sleep). You can delete books from your account so it's nice that you can hide your mistakes.

I'm spending a lot of time on this one issue but it is the first step in creating your book and I do think you should be forewarned. So the moral of my story here is to carefully consider which dates and posts you wish to include in your book. Do you want an annual book? Do you want only a book about family-related posts? Do you want to include only posts with photos? These are the questions that keep me up at night and I am hoping to preserve your night's sleep.

Once you have carefully considered the span of your blog book, the rest of the process really is easy. Here are some of the options you can select:
  • whether to include comments in your book
  • order of posts (oldest to newest or vice versa)
  • hardcover or softcover (with a myriad of choices for each)
  • cover & back photo
  • whether to include a table of contents
  • a personal dedication
There is one other option that I found very important. This is the Page Template style. Your choices are "Snapshot" or "Compact". Snapshot is an exact picture of your blog posts as they appear on your blog. So however your photos appear around your text online is how they will appear in your book. Compact style is one which the photos and text are rearranged to use fewer pages. I initially chose Snapshot because it's my blog you know and I don't want anybody else changing it whatsoever. But then I saw how many pages (and dollars) my Snapshot version required and decided that it was okay just this once for somebody else to make a few minor decisions about the format of my blog. And actually, the Compact template looks a whole lot better in a book form than the Snapshot template did. Since I have lots of photos throughout my blog, the Compact style was able to weave the text around the photos nicely rather than in a vertically linear, blog-style format.

The best thing about my blog book is flipping through the pages and remembering posts and photos that I had literally forgotten. My blog is about my life, my family, my photos and my sense of humor. The little life moments that make it to my blog are preserved, but on my blog, I rarely go back and reminisce. Now that I have my glossy hardcover chronicle of our life circa 2009, I can relive those silly, funny, at times stressful but wonderful days again and again. I can't wait to print 2010!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Whaddaya think about that?