Free the Book Maiden Voyage by Jay Chapman

Let’s celebrate freedom – from traditional publishers, from kitschy photo book templates, from minimum orders. Let’s look at books in a whole new way and see just how far our creativity can take us. So here it is: the debut issue of our Free the Book newsletter.

In this issue:


Travel photography tips from a globetrotting pro

If this is the moment we free the book, we can’t think of a better way than to push the edges of a genre that’s all about exploration – great travel books. We asked Blurb Photographer-at-Large Dan Milnor for his tips on creating great books of travel photos.

July Newsletter Summer Travel

Blurb: When should you start thinking about that travel book?

Dan: Even though it can be difficult, I try NOT to think too much about a book until after I’ve made the photographs. To make your best possible images you have to connect with what you are photographing and this is easiest when your mind is clear and focused. Travel is full of unexpected twists and turns, so practice doing ONE creative thing at a time.

Blurb: How can you make a travel book really stand out?

Dan: A standout photography book begins with standout imagery. To make standout imagery you need to be extremely comfortable with your equipment. If you are thinking about your equipment, or staring at the screen on the back, you will miss pictures. I’m a huge fan of one camera, one lens. Remember, great photography is about light, timing, and composition, not the latest gadget.

July Newsletter Summer Travel

Blurb: How should aspiring travel photographers decide what to shoot?

Dan: Most of us are limited on time, so find a theme and stick to it. This could be anything from portraits to things of a certain color to street corners. Committing to a theme allows you to work on your “story” no matter what time of day or where you are. This is also very helpful when it comes to making a book because your book becomes one cohesive story as opposed to random imagery.

Dan has recently discovered a set of travel photo books by Australian photographer Chloe Ferres that captured his imagination and offers a great example of how inspiration begets art.

“I first saw these books in Australia in June and was immediately attracted to them,” says Milnor.

“There are several aspects of Chloe’s books I find compelling. First, they’re comprehensive. Chloe begins the book from the minute she leaves for the trip and shoots until the minute she returns. The books are her personal story and trajectory played out page by page, image by image, almost like a visual map of her journey. These books feel intimate.”

July Newsletter Summer Travel

“Size also plays a role here, and Chloe turns traditional thinking on its head. The vast majority of travel books I see are large format. "A Little Travel Blog" is the polar opposite. These books are small in dimension, but maxed in page count. These two things in combination further accentuate the feel of intimacy. Also, with the extreme page count, the viewer can open the book at any point and just jump in.”

July Newsletter Summer Travel

“The books are also consistent in size, page count, and typography. “Super simple” and “clean” are definitely the rules of thumb, with a consistency of image size, placement, text size, and cover design. Collectively, these books form a set, which I think is a great idea for anyone who travels a lot and makes a lot of books. They’re also perfect for anyone who would love to explore Chloe’s journeys from the comfort of home.”

Traveling soon? Keep Dan Milnor’s advice in mind and get inspired wherever your journey takes you. And take a look at Chloe and Dan’s books; you’ll never think about travel books the same way again.

July Newsletter Free Your Book
Free the Book Get Started Free the Book Get Inspired Free the Book Get Information

Back to top


How to tell the story of your business

Free the Book You Only Launch Once

Unless your business is selling cold drinks in the hot sun, chances are the summer months are what we politely call “the slow period.” But you’ve spent the first half of the year with your nose to the grindstone – and there’s a lot to show for it. So why not show it off? Tell the story of your business in an unexpected way. Forget the Powerpoint presentation; make a book that will turn prospects’ heads – and turn them into customers.

Business development is hard work, no matter what your business is. Phone calls, meetings, presentations, follow up – it’s never-ending. But an interesting, engaging book that documents the best of your recent work can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. A hardcover print book will keep you in the room long after the meeting is over. And an interactive ebook gives you a global presence no matter how local your business may be.

It’s true – ebooks are creative, affordable, and portable. You can easily generate one from your print book file and then add audio and video to really bring it to life. Your potential clients and customers are going to come back from their holiday vacations refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to work. If you want them to work with you, business as usual isn’t going to cut it. Stand out from the crowd. Free the book that only your business can make.

Getting down to business

  • Document your achievements and decide what will make it into your book
  • Select your favourite images and content
  • Create audio and video to enrich your interactive ebook
  • Choose the book-making tool that's right for you
  • Make that book
July Newsletter Free Your Book
Free the Book Get Started Free the Book Get Inspired Free the Book Get Information

Back to top


Free the mind, free the book

Free the Book Refueled by Chris Brown

As part of our “Free the Book” focus at Blurb, we’ve been discussing creative ways to get new book projects out of the head and onto the page. Discipline is essential, but it can’t make up for a lack of inspiration or lapses in confidence, concentration, or motivation. So how can you “create” inspiration? We’ve got a few ideas for you.

Creative writing exercises can do more than help to get the juices flowing – they can encourage us to look at all of our creative content, from poems and short stories to drawings, paintings, and photographs – in a completely new light. At Blurb, we’re fascinated by how words and images work together to blaze new trails of creativity and inspiration.

Just like words, images have the ability to convey narrative and invoke different moods and emotions. A simple prompt can be all it takes to free the mind and trigger the imagination. Here are two creative writing exercises that use visual references as their starting point. But where they end up is entirely up to you and your creative exploration.

Free the Mind, Free The Book

  1. Random photographs
    Select three of your most treasured photographs at random. Explore your connections to them and their connections to each other. What stories do they tell you? What might they tell others unfamiliar with the images? Write for at least 15-30 minutes. Check out this book and this one for even more inspiration.

  2. Free The Book Random Color

  3. Random color
    Choose a color (have fun with it) and then take a walk (indoors or out) for 10-15 minutes noting where, how, and why this color appears. When you return, write freely for at least 15 minutes, pushing yourself to expand on your notes in as much detail as possible.

Where might these prompts take you? On a trip down memory lane? To a fictional place only you can imagine? Perhaps back to a creative project you may have started earlier but weren’t able to finish?

There are no rules. Write a poem, an essay, a short story – or reclaim and rediscover something you already have. A hundred words or a thousand, it doesn’t matter. Just start writing, exploring, and, most important of all: have fun. Make the book you’ve always dreamed of – or one you never thought was possible.

We’d love to see the results of your creative efforts, so why not free your book and share it with us using our built-in social tools (just use the hashtag #freethebook). We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

July Newsletter Free Your Book
Free the Book Get Started Free the Book Get Inspired Free the Book Get Information

Back to top

PS We’re trying to expand the way the world thinks about books. Have you made something amazing? Share your book with us using our built-in social tools (just use the hashtag #freethebook) and declare your independence.
July Newsletter Twitter HashtagJuly Newsletter Facebook ButtonJuly Newsletter Twitter ButtonJuly Newsletter Instagram Button