Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blog Book 2013 & A How-To

You read it right-2013. I just now (well, three weeks ago actually) received my blog book for the previous calendar year. I was in super procrastination mode this time because I wasn't completely satisfied with last year's blog book and wanted to do something different. So I spent quite a bit of time researching and finally decided on a blog book publishing company that exceeded my expectations- Lulu.

Here is our 2013 calendar year blog book. It is 538 pages of pictures, memories and letters to our sweet baby that we can tangibly have forever. I consider this my trophy for the work I put into my corner of the www :) The day my book arrives is like Christmas morning.

2013 created a huge book for us! Vacations, weddings, and baby's first everythings were lengthy posts that made for a bulky book. I went with a hard cover and colored pages. I wanted durability and for the pages to closely resemble the actual blog.

I love that Lulu allows you to select actual pictures as the covers of the book. Deciding on which pictures to use took me longer than I care to admit but I'm happy with my choice and the quality. It even has a barcode so it's an official published book-how cool is that?

I found a wonderful tutorial here that helped me muddle through the publishing process. This book did require more work on my end than my previous blog book. You download a template and copy and paste your blog posts onto the template. From there you are able to edit fonts, resize pictures, and arrange pages so that there are no weird page endings. The extra work was worth it to me for formatting reasons alone. I have created a step-by-step tutorial at the end of this post. Hopefully it will help you if you're interested in making one and I know it will help me next year so I don't have to start from scratch.

Resizing the pictures allows you to get more pictures and words on each page. Some pictures I left big, like her first time eating from a spoon, and some pictures I made smaller. I love the flexibility and ability to design the layout.

I was impressed with the picture quality. There is very little graininess and the colors are bright and vibrant.

Here is a step-by-step process that I used to make my blog book: 

1. Create an account 
Go to and sign up for free

2. Download the template
Once you are logged into your account, go to Publish. Click Books and download the template.

3. Copy/Paste/Edit
Once the template is downloaded you can start copying and pasting your posts to your template. Make sure you transfer the entire post including the date and title (comments optional). Also be sure to work chronologically so your book reads from oldest to most recent.

Once you have all the posts pasted to the template is when you should begin editing. Again you will want to start from the first page which should contain your oldest post and work down so that you don't have to backtrack and do rework. You can shrink or expand features, change or resize fonts and eliminate unwanted spacing that you had from the blog post (I did this between the title and the actual post to save room and require less book pages). If you end up with extra space on the page make pictures bigger so you get the most out of the page. Something I did to my template was take still shots of videos that I had posted on the blog. Of course videos won't print and it leaves a big black box so I replaced that with a picture of the video! 

4. Create a Title Page/Table of Contents
In order to make these all you have to do is space the first post of the template down and allow for a new page. I kept my title page simple: Harrison Homeplace 2013.  I did not do a table of contents page. I was ready to have it done and printed plus I felt like we would just flip through the book to find a certain post instead of use the table of contents anyway. I thought I would regret not having one but I haven't. *Be sure to leave page #2 blank if you want the first page of the table of contents (or blog if you forgo a table of contents) to be on a right hand page.

5. Proof
At this point your blog should be print ready so now is the time to proof for any errors you didn't catch earlier. Maybe a picture isn't centered, a post is missing a date, a new post starts at the end of the page and you would rather start a brand new page, etc. Be sure you are saving your project frequently so your computer stores the most up-to-date template version.

6. Save as a PDF
Lulu has instructions here on how to save your template to ensure it prints correctly.

7. Upload and create your cover
From your Lulu account you will upload your PDF template. You can preview at this step in case you need to make any last minute changes. If I remember correctly it took a few minutes for the template to download (could have been because mine was 538 pages!) so be patient. For your cover you have the option of using one of their templates or you can create your own. I decided I wanted a picture that defined 2013 for us so I chose my favorite family picture. It has to be a high-resolution picture so DSLR or professional pictures are your options.

8. Final Preview and done!
You can preview it one last time and then it is ready to publish. Lulu is geared more towards authors who are writing and publishing actual books so it doesn't automatically ask you about buying one but if you navigate through a few screens you will see the option to purchase.

Be sure to search for coupon codes, I was able to find a code for 25% off! My 2013 blog book through Lulu was cheaper than my 2012 (only July-December) through Blog2print. Plus I was able to format the pages and create my own personalized cover. Lulu is bomb dot com. I'm so glad I made the switch! And I'm hoping this will eliminate my excessive procrastination and it won't be the middle of the year next time before my book is ready :)


  1. This is awesome. I have been wondering how to keep a record of my bumpdates for the future and this is perfect!

    1. You will definitely want a hard copy of 2014 :) This is the way to go, it appears to be a better product than the others. I'm very satisfied!

  2. omg- i loved this! i wish i had the constancy to write every day to do something like this :) It looks great!

    1. Thank you! Sometimes it feels like a chore but most of the time it's fun for me-it's a hobby :)