Family Photo Books and Blurb Discount Code

I got an email from that I thought I’d share. Along with a 20% discount code “MYVALENTINE” (no minimum and up to $50 off – good through January 31st 2015 local time) They had some good ideas on making family photos books. Here are a few of their favorite ideas:

If you have an epic tale to tell, do it in a custom family history book. Do a little research (you don’t have to be a historian—just be curious) and share your family’s story.
Lucky enough to have a large family? See how you can make a family yearbook (just like a school’s yearbook) to get everyone into the picture.
Time flies, babies become toddlers, and before you know it they’re out of the nest. Simple photo books documenting their growth likewise become treasured reminders—use pre-designed templates or create your own layouts.
Not sure where to start?
Watch our series of short, handy Book Camp videos and see how to put your book together, from organizing your photos to hitting Order.
You can even check out our step-by-simple-step tutorial about how to make a family photo book.

Big Things From a Tiny Kitchen

Here is a fun way to share your passion about food with family and friends. The first part of the video talks about making the cook book and the last part how to make her signature dish. Below are previews of her two cookbooks. I love the idea of putting together your own beautiful cookbooks. Food is such an important part of families and our memories of childhood and good times together. These books are great inspiration.

A Little Bittle of Summer

image from

I came across this writing exercise from Blurb’s August Newsletter today and wanted to share it here. They suggest writing about your summer but you could also use this approach on any subject or person you having been wanting to do a story project about.

Here’s a brand-new writing exercise to help you capture the summer of 2013 and inspire a bit of a creative energy. As the season fades and we head indoors to hibernate for the winter, this exercise can help you get the most from your memories and make sure they’re not lost forever.

Visual references can be powerful catalysts for writing; photographs, illustrations, and visuals can often help to overcome writer’s block. A train or bus ticket, a menu, a business card, an eye-catching flyer—these are just a few examples of the visual references we collect as we move around in the world. When combined with the images we deliberately record with our cameras, these accidental souvenirs can serve as powerful reminders of particular moments in time.

Using visual cues like these in your writing exercises is a great way to get started on a book—or to just ignite the spark that gets your creative fire burning.

  • Select several of your most treasured objects, accidental souvenirs, and images from your summer activities.
  • Play with some ideas. Will this piece of writing document an event or set of events? Is it a poem, a short story, or something else? Decide on your approach, process, and genre.
  • Write for a fixed amount of time, say 20 to 30 minutes, and see where it takes you. Repeat until you feel you’ve captured what’s in your head on the page (or screen).
  • Refine the results. Keep editing and refining until you’re satisfied with the words and then dive straight into making your book. Now is the time to weave in your visual cues. Get your photographs, drawings, artifacts—whatever inspired you—into digital format and import them into your book project.
  • Explore different layouts to create the best combinations of your words and images

It may take it a week or two—or if you’re incredibly efficient, an hour or two—but once your Summer 2013 book is finished you’ll have secured some special memories in print. (You can also create an ebook version in a flash.) After all, as Henry David Thoreau once said, “One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

Now I just need to carve out a few minutes and try this exercise. It’s a good friend’s daughter passed away and they are asking for memories to put together for her brand new baby so that he will know about his mother. This would be a great things to do for that project.

Are you up to a writing challenge too? If I can do it so can you. Writing is one of my big mental blocks.


“My Grandma Mary” update

I seem to have jumped through all the hoops to get a proof copy of “My Grandma Mary” printed by Lightning Source! I got an email today confirming the order from last week. The holiday has slowed things down but if I understand how it works, I should have the proof copy in my hand this week! I’m really excited to see it. If everything looks good than I will make it available for sell asap. My mom is usually really patient about histories but on this one she asks me about it every time I talk to her. It has taken a long time to get to this point. I’ve learned so much. But I’m sure there is a lot more to learn.

One thing I’ve realized is I’m glad there are places like Blurb and places like Lightning Source. Even though they are both print on demand companies their business models and target customers are completely different. I can see that I’ll be using both companies in the future depending on the project. For small runs, Blurb is a better choice. For books with a larger audience Lightning Source can be the better choice. While Blurb has a higher price per book they have no set up costs and no on going cost to keep the book available to print. While LSI has a much cheaper price per book they set up cost of about $100 mean you have to order at least a certain number of books to make it more cost-effective than Blurb. In the case of “My Grandma Mary” you have to order at least 5 copies to make LSI a more cost-effective option.

I’m still waiting to see how the quality of Lightning Source compares to Blurb.


Carol Joy Jenson

This is a book about my aunt who died when she was 13 years old. There was a limited number of photos and information about her short life so I used every picture I had and almost everything written about her. Because it was so focused it came together very quickly.

I had a lot of fun putting this together, so much fun, that it inspired several more books in similar format and size about her parents and another aunt with more to come. These books that are not so much focused on the chronology of someones life but more about telling the story of who they where and what was important to them.

A smaller focused project like this is very doable and very satisfying to too. Keep the possibilities in mind as you think about upcoming story projects.


Understand Book Publishing Paths

Understand the Key Book Publishing Paths by Jane Friedman

Today I’ve been doing some research on publishing “My Grandma Mary” book. I still have so much to learn. This story project has a broader potential audience than my other projects. So I need to learn new things and try new things to share this book with those who might have an interest in it. I’ve loved Blurb for my other projects but I’m coming to realize that they aren’t the best option for “My Grandma Mary”. Just when I think I’m almost done I realize I’m not done. Silly me. If I just look at my DOABLE approach I would know that I still have a couple of steps to go; link (sharing the project) and evaluating. Now I’m getting sidetracked from the purpose of this post. In my research I came across this well-organized infographic on book publishing paths by Jane Friedman. You can find Jane’s full article here. I’ll be keeping this handy for referring to now and in the future. This is information to keep in mind from the beginning of a story project to the wrapping up stages.

DOABLE Sidebar DDOABLE Sidebar L

Printing Options for Publishing Your Story Project Book

DOABLE Sidebar DSo you have decided that your story project will be a book and you’re really excited about it and ready to take the next step. Pause for just a moment and think about how you are going to publish your finished book. There are more options for publishing a book than ever before. Here are the main ones that I can think of:

  • traditional – usually one place for printing another for binding
  • print on demand – on-line
  • local copy center
  • self printing from your computer with your printer

Each option has advantages and disadvantages and each one has requirements that you will want to keep in mind as you begin your story project. One of the most important reasons to decide which route you are taking is so that you will know what size and file format requirements your choice will have so you don’t end up with some unexpected glitch near the end of your story project. I won’t go into great detail here on each one but just give some of the pros and cons of each option.

Traditional Printing:

I don’t have direct personal experience with using a traditional printer but I’ve some indirect knowledge and what I learned in college. If you are wanting to print a large number of books upfront it is an option that should be considered. My books so far have a very limited audience so this hasn’t been a consideration. It might be an option for “My Grandma Mary” in the near future.


  • low-cost per book
  • fully customizable


Print On Demand

This is a great option for most story project books. There are lots of print on demand companies. My favorite is Blurb, but I haven’t tried all of them. The quality varies and the options vary from company to company so check around and find one that fits your needs and understand the size and format requirements. Print on demand sites are not flexible on how your files are uploaded to their servers.


  • small number of books
  • quick turn around


  • higher cost per book
  • limited number of options

Local Copy Center

Depending on your story project the local copy center might be a good alternative if you are doing a project in a standard letter-size format and are happy with the binding options they have. Don’t assume that this will be you.


  • quick turn around
  • local business


  • lower quality binding options
  • variability in knowledge, quality and cost


This is how I did the first few books I published for my family. It was a good way for me to get started but between the cost of the ink and the number of hours I spent baby sitting my printer I wouldn’t do it again unless it is for a project which is small in the number of pages and the number of books. A neighbor has told me about retrofitting his printer with a continuous ink supply system that I’m anxious to hear more about. It cuts the cost of printing from home dramatically. I’ll let you know when I learn more about it.


  • total control


  • binding options
  • not usually cost-effective
  • time intensive

There is no single printing option that is right for all story project books. So look at each project and pick the option that makes the best sense for that story project. Just make sure that you look at the options at the earliest stages of the story project.

What printing options have you used in the past? Do you have any words of advice for others?


Book of the Week – face Book

I love the simple concept and layout of this book, described on the title page as “a week in the life of a branch library,” by photographer Keith Pattison. I wonder if this same idea could work well for a family reunion or another type of family gathering. Which makes me think, could I do something like this for my mom’s 90th birthday? I love the continuity that the gray backdrop and square cropping for all the photos. I also like how there are three basic page layouts; full bleed, white border and white border with four photos. This gives the book some variety but keeps the focus on the wide variety of people who come to the library in any week.

I also really like the idea of using a simple note-book for writing a message. This would also work for my mom’s 90th birthday. I could let each person write a short note to my mom. The book would then be like a birthday card. I hope I can figure out how to pull this project off.

Do you have a project that would work well with this type of layout?

Using Lightroom 4 to Create Your Photo Books – Blurb webinar


Blurb is having a free webinar next Thursday, February 28th called “Using Lightroom 4 to Create Your Photo Books”. This sounds really interesting I think I’ll be attending. Here is what Blurb has to say about it:

One of our favorite Adobe® Lightroom® 4 experts, professional photographer Jay Graham, will be illustrating exactly how to create a stunning photo book in Lightroom 4 with the new Book module that works right with Blurb. He’ll cover:

  • Collecting and managing your photos
  • Sequencing your work
  • Using auto layout
  • Setting preferences
  • Book design and captioning

By the end of the session, you’ll be ready to put together your own beautiful photo book.

Oh, and you’ll even learn how to get 25% off your next Blurb book. We’re excited to be able to share this webinar with you and can’t wait for the next ones.

February 28th, 2013 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. PST – Register Now

Book of the Week – “fam-i-ly”

I’ve decided that each week I will pick a book to highlight here on my blog. This weeks pick is called “fam-i-ly” by Michelle Andrews. What I like about it is how the many photos of the book placed. They picked a black background for the entire book and the photos are handled in a very consistent way that keeps things from getting too busy and lends continuity to the book. The way this book is laid out would work for many family projects.

The end of the book has a sweet poem written by a member of their family.


It’s all about family because, sometimes bad things happen and someones hurt or someone does not stop hurting themselves. But your family’s there for you.

It’s all about family because, when your sick they care for you, they don’t ignore you, they pay attention. But your family’s there for you.

It’s all about family because, they cheer you up when your glum, they help you. They laugh, they have fun, they play, they spend time with others, they care and best of all they lover you.

That’s what family’s all about.

by Sidney Bookman

age 9 (unedited) 2006