The business of writing: Successful Blurb authors talk self-promotion

Blurb books aren’t just beautiful objects—they’re also powerful tools you can use to promote your work. Your recipes, your photography, your collections, your passions. Yes, yes, you’ve heard pitches like this before, but here’s a difference—we’ve got real-world examples to back it up. Here’s a roundup of interviews with writers and photographers who have used Blurb in innovative ways to build their personal brands.

Authors Matt Eich Seven Cities


First, make serious money: Matt Eich, The Seven Cities

Meet Matt Eich, a photographer who created books with Blurb to fund his large, long-form photography project. Let's let Matt tell us how it worked:

Matt: “Books are the ideal way for me to communicate with my work, because I can distill a long period of time and a lot of questions into a sequence that has a rhythm and flow, like a song. It takes years of work, tens of thousands of images, and lots of blood, sweat, and tears, but when it’s all boiled down to 40–60 images in something tactile and real, it starts to feel as if all of it was worth something.

When working on these long-form projects, I always start mocking up a maquette—or book dummy—once I’ve gathered enough work. It allows me to start seeing what is there and what isn’t. It’s the closest and most intimate glimpse I can give people into my creative process. For the purpose of crowd-funding The Seven Cities project, I offered four different rewards to backers of the project that are in book form.

1) $150: 7 × 7 softcover book of mobile dispatches. For this book, I created an edit/sequence of mobile dispatches from The Seven Cities project that I had posted on Instagram under the hashtag #TheSevenCities and printed it using Blurb’s ProLine Uncoated paper.

2) $250: 8 × 10 hardcover book of The Seven Cities project. Drawn from work spanning 2005–2012, this edit was the groundwork for delving deeper into my community and gathering the stills, motion, and sound necessary to complete this project. The book is approximately 120 pages and was printed on Blurb’s ProLine Uncoated paper.

3) $500: I am selling two of the remaining Limited Edition copies of Carry Me Ohio, published in 2010 with a run of 100 books. Each of these two remaining books comes with three 8.5 × 11 prints of new images made from this project in 2012. These were printed through Edition One in California and originally sold for $85 each without a print.

4) $1000: A set of three books (The Seven Cities, Sin & Salvation in Baptist Town and Carry Me Ohio), all 8 × 10 hardcover, printed on Blurb’s ProLine Uncoated paper. This set is the most comprehensive printed collection of my work from 2005–2012 in three different projects that are all connected by theme and design.

For each of these book-related rewards, I will only print the number of books that are ordered, so if there is only one person who selects it, that will be the only person who ends up receiving these collectible books.”


Authors Linda Spiker Season Favorites from the Organic Kitchen


Expand your reach: Linda Spiker, Seasonal Favorites from the Organic Kitchen

A Blurb book is a great way to get your work seen when you can’t show it off yourself. Professional chef (and teacher) Linda Spiker increased her reach exponentially with a book of her recipes and lessons:

Linda: “It’s going to sound strange but the objective behind my books was to reduce business! Unusual, I know.

I own and operate my own organic cooking school and online store. Teaching classes is kind of a three-ring circus between prepping and cooking a four-course meal and then sitting down with the students and enjoying a great feast. It’s fun and my classes were becoming very popular but quite frankly, I couldn’t keep up with demand.”

I thought that by putting my menus and recipes—as taught—into a cookbook and ebook, I might be able to slow down on teaching classes as people could just buy the books instead booking a class.

Blurb: How did that work for you?

Linda: “Not so well, the book actually boosted business. So I’m busier than ever!”


Authors Aruna Khanzada Curry Base


Branch out into ebooks: Aruna Khanzada, Curry Base

Here at Blurb, on of our mantras is “print books are just the beginning.” Meet Aruna Khanzada, a chef who has taken this to heart and leveraged the power and immediacy of ebooks to sell more copies of her wonderful cookbook.

Aruna: “I have no doubt the enhanced ebooks are going to boost the sellers’ economy! In this age of fast-growing technology and electronic gadgetry, there is a large market that isn’t interested in the written page, and that expects immediate access, that demands video instruction on the spot and the enhanced media ebook fulfills those demands. The ability to sell your work, adding whatever profit margin you want through the Blurb Bookstore, as well as the iBookstore, will definitely benefit sellers. There are still those who love the written page and are willing to wait for the arrival of their book, and that market will always be there. For those who don’t want to pay that extra for the printing and postage, the cost effectiveness of the ebook means more people will be willing to buy.”

So hopefully we’ve inspired you to get the word out about whatever you’re creating—from photography to recipes to stories and beyond.

PS Get more tips on how to promote your self-published book on our blog.


Ready to get started on your own book-making journey? Choose the tool that fits your book-making needs and you’ll end up with the perfect book (and have some fun on the way).

Tools BookSmart


Making your first book? Download our book-making tool and you’re on your way. Start with our short, super-informative BookSmart tour.

Tools Lightroom 5

Adobe® Lightroom® 5

Big into photography? The Book module—built right into Lightroom—lets you move from photo management to book creation in a flash.

Tools InDesign Plug-in

Adobe® InDesign®

Got serious design skills? Blurb has you covered. Let’s get you started right within Adobe InDesign.


Blurb Bookstore SEO Tips for Bloggers

SEO Tips for Bloggers | The Experts at Search Laboratory

A super-useful guide to search engine optimization (it’s a real thing—we promise) tailored towards the people who really need it—people looking to get their blog off the ground and highly ranked on the top search engine (hint: it rhymes with “shmoogle”). It even comes with a handy glossary of hard-to-understand SEO jargon.

Blurb Bookstore Hire Me The Portfolio Handbook

Hire Me?! The Portfolio Handbook: A Guide to Creating Your Design Portfolio | UCID12

A group of graduating design students at the University of Cincinnati got together to pass on their accumulated wisdom to the class behind them. This book is packed with insider tips on getting your first job in the design industry (surprise, surprise—it's lovely to look at as well).

Blurb Bookstore 100 Lessons on the Meaning of Life

100 Lessons on the Meaning of Life in 100 Words or Less | Roger Horberry

Each of these lessons discusses the meaning of life (eek!) from a different perspective, ranging from philosophy to theology to literature. The result? A thought-provoking compendium of humanity’s most profound (and goofiest) reflections on The Big Question.



Good for the brand, great for the bottom line

So you want to make a book for your business? Great idea. Aside from looking good on paper, you can easily put your company in the spotlight, and for the right reasons. Promoting your brand, communicating your expertise, and raising funds for your cause are just three things that a glossy hardcover can help you achieve. But before you start thinking about paper and finishing options, read on to find out how three amazing businesses got their ideas on the page and let their business books do some heavy lifting. And don’t forget, you can too.

Strut your stuff
A typical brand book is a statement of purpose, intent, and practice. You know, “Brand Voice,” “Brand Promise,” that kind of thing. But that’s a pretty narrow definition. At Blurb, we see businesses creating “brand books” for all kinds of uses—as sales tools, or pitch presentations, or showcases for a current line of products.

We had a chat with Carby Tuckwell about his company Deus Ex Machina, a clothing, lifestyle, and motorcycle (yes, motorcycle) brand based in Australia, and the book he made with Blurb, Deus Ex Machina FW-12.

As Carby tells it, “We wanted to create a printed piece to complement the Fall/Winter [20]12 range. There is the instant perception of something being considered when its committed to the printed page. We take great care with our clothing so it made sense to create a sales tool of equal quality.”

And the print piece is just the beginning. With Blurb’s ebook platform, Carby thinks a digital project might be in the works. There’s “always a new range coming up” so “we may consider an ebook instead,” going forward.

Shout it out
If you want to launch a new idea into the world, a book is the way to go. It can be a great value-add to distribute (or sell) at conferences and events, and, best of all, an easy introduction platform. Reach more people, capture your expertise, and offer your clients—current and future—a tool that quickly educates them on what you’re all about.

Tim Gnatek and Jessica Switzer, the authors of You Only Launch Once, knew there would be significant return on investment for the time and effort they spent on the book.

“We have been able to use our book as an offering to add value to several conferences and events that closely align with our agency's focus on sustainability and innovation. We have done this with several organizations including Investors' Circle, Sustainable Brands, and The Economist.”

Tim and Jessica went digital since “the ebook was easily shareable, and able to capture video…we were able to package exclusive interviews from entrepreneurs and product designers.”

Aside from the beautiful end result, “we were able to create a product with lasting value that captures expertise and experience with launches of all sorts, and offer it as a means of introducing ourselves, how we think, and where our values are.”

Raise the bar
Books for donors and sponsors can reward and thank people for their donations, as well as raise funds for future projects. Blurb books can showcase what has been achieved thus far or they can feature planned projects and initiatives to increase awareness (and hopefully donations).

Jerry Tovo’s book, I was a Soldier, was an incredible success, in several ways. “The book is very close to my heart and it has been an invaluable tool. It brought enormous credibility almost instantly. Everyone we have shared it with wanted more copies. Initially it was used as a prospectus for fund raising and for potential grant opportunities. Then “the museum that is hosting the first exhibit wanted to sell it in their gift shop.”

The balance between a message focused on soliciting donations and one acknowledging funds already received can be a tricky one. In light of that, Jerry is considering an update. “We have toyed with redesigning it with less financial info and more updated images.”

Whatever your business or organizational goals may be, a book can be a valuable tool in achieving them. Identify the objective, define the target audience, and create a book that carries your message in an impactful way. You'll be amazed at the results.