February 3, 2011

Publishing a Photo Book on Lulu

Recently I decided to take the plunge and create a book on Lulu.com

My son created a nice little book which he gave me for Christmas, and seeing how good it looked, I decided to give it a try.

There are many many choices on Lulu.com, from Photo books to Text. There are also many choices as to size of book, and binding and paper. It's all very nicely laid out and not hard to follow.

You can have printed copies sent to you directly or you can publish your completed books on Lulu where they will sell them on your behalf, or you can have them available on Amazon.com - it depends what your end goal is for your books.

For my first attempt I decided a photo book would be the easiest. I wanted to create a book with all my old family photos from my maternal grandfather's family. I could then give copies to my family and that would preserve the old photos as well as share them with others who have never seen them.

The Photo Book on Lulu has templated pages which have the "slots" for photos already laid out. You can also substitute one style page with another. The basic photo book has 20 pages so I chose that in 8 1/2x 11 size, something I am familiar with.

The text books have a template you can download which has pre-set margins for working in WORD. But I decided I didn't want to spend the time right now to figure all of that out.


I'm glad I chose the photo book template. It was easy to work with - just upload your photos and they appear in a side "tray" where you can easily move them to the page and the photo slot you want.

Not happy with your first placement? It's easy to remove a photo from a slot, put it back in the tray and then think about where it might be better placed.

I did end up changing page templates several times. It was easy to play around with and try various placements. The only drawback is that you cannot add a brief text caption to your photos. I consider this a major flaw, but there are a couple of template pages that have a large text area at the bottom of the page. So you could enter text describing each of the photos on that page. I did that for a few pages but I didn't want every single page in my photo book to have the same layout.

As I chose my photos and placed them in my book, I kept getting warning messages. These messages informed me that my photo might not display very well and I might want to resize it or choose another one. But I opted to leave the photos as they were (a bit worried but reminding myself that I was using photos from the early 1900s and late 1800s and they weren't all clear and sharp to begin with!)

Finally I had my cover designed (I chose a ready-made template) and the title entered and all my photos arranged. This is actually where the most challenging part of using Lulu.com happened!

I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to publish my book. I downloaded the proof copy as they suggested. But when I went to publish 6 hard copies to be delivered to me, I started to flounder. Information about my earlier choices (type of paper, colour versus black and white, size, binding) were displayed. But nothing looked familiar! I had chosen 8 1/2 x 11 paper but the size shown me was in cm not inches.

Perhaps it is just me and how my brain works (or doesn't work!) but I did find it challenging to actually order my printed books. However the good news is that I ordered them, they arrived within three days (amazing speed from USA to Canada), and they are gorgeous.

The photos that had warnings are perfect. The quality of the cover and pages is excellent. The book looks very professional and I can hardly wait to give copies to family!

My next book is one I am creating on Lulu with a downloaded template for WORD. It's another photo book but this time I'm adding text and stories as well as photos. So far, so good! I'll talk about that once I have the final products.

8 comments:

Nolichucky Roots said...

So encouraging to read. This is my eventual goal once I finish digitizing the family photos. Thanks for the overview.

The Grandmother Here said...

A book is a wonderful way to preserve and share treasured family pictures. I've used Ancestry.com and my daughter has used Picaboo.

Teicha said...

So glad the experience was rewarding.

Joan Miller (Luxegen) said...

That is lovely! I want to make one for a family member's milestone birthday this year. I've got it started on lulu and you have inspired me to get it done. That is amazing delivery time to Canada!

Kathy Reed said...

I've also used Picaboo -- lots of flexibility. I love it -- very high quality. Great sticking your toe in the water and giving it a shot.

Jasia said...

I love happy success stories like this. One of these days I'm going to try creating a book on hulu too. Thanks for sharing your experience!

tajicat said...

Thanks for the info. I wondered if they would make a nice family book, didn't know I could make a heritage type book there or at Picaboo either.
I will definitely be checking both out.

T.K. said...

Thanks for sharing your Lulu experience, Lorine. I think it's a great help to know how others feel about the print-on-demand publishers they've tried.