Publishing with Blurb: Success stories

 

Blog to book: An interview with a goddess

We think books are an ideal place to get really creative, and so did Karina Allrich, author of Gluten-Free Goddess. She made something amazing, took some pictures, and showed it all off in a book. The result? A polished, professional-quality book she’s using to help promote a seriously delicious gluten-free lifestyle (and make sales). We took a moment to speak to Karina about her process (and learned she has more ebooks on the way—yum).

Can you share a little bit of your background story?
"I began sharing my original gluten-free recipes at Gluten-Free Goddess®, a food and recipe blog, in late fall of 2005. My intent was to encourage families who also needed to live gluten-free and I wanted to show that it’s more than doable. It can be delicious—even fabulous. I spent a lot of time developing recipes and photographing them in an appealing way. My goal was to inspire."

What did you think a book could do for your brand?
"I never think about "the brand." I didn't plan on becoming a brand, or a persona. I had no strategy. I just did my own thing. I called my blog Gluten-Free Goddess because I had written a sweet little paperback cookbook years ago (now out of print) called Recipes from a Vegetarian Goddess.

What I did think about was how publishing was changing. And how I was buying fewer and fewer mainstream cookbooks, turning, instead, to food blogs—and the Internet—for inspiration. When I received an iPad for Christmas, I started using it in the kitchen immediately. I loved the instant access to all my Gluten-Free Goddess recipes and seeing them with the original photography. I thought readers might feel the same way. I have a lot of content on GFG—over 400-something recipes. So I started pulling together an ebook cookbook of my personal favorites and the most popular recipes on the blog (judging by page views and ongoing views and a few of our family favorites). I ended up with a collection of 45 recipes."

Success Stories - Self Publish with Booksmart

What tips would you give to someone who has never made a cookbook before about making their book?
"Take the time to create big, beautiful photographs. Photography makes a cookbook more appealing. Browse food blogs to familiarize yourself with the various styles of food photography. Light the food with soft, natural light. Use a decent digital camera. Learn how to edit photographs, and adjust contrast and color. Save your images in 300 DPI."

So while we’re speaking of food photography, can you share a little about your background and food photography you admire?
"I studied photography in art school, and also worked as a photo assistant on studio shoots in Los Angeles and New England. I also paint. So visual creativity is important to me. I have worked to develop my own style in food photography. I like a light, casual mood. Not too fussy. We actually eat the food I make for the blog. There are so many wonderful food bloggers whose food photography inspires me. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Urban Poser. And Martha Stewart's team—so simple and fresh."

Did anything surprise you about our book-making tools?
"Blurb's book-making program (BookSmart) makes it so easy to create and edit a cookbook. I was surprised at how clean and simple the process was.

How are you using your cookbook?
The Gluten-Free Goddess ebook is a complement to the blog. I see it as a take-away—something more intimate and manageable than the interactive live blog with all its posts, comments, and social media. It's a piece of the blog. A menu of favorites. A taste."

What has the response been?
"Very strong. Very encouraging."

What do you have coming up? What's the future of Gluten Free Goddess?
"I hope to create more ebook cookbooks with a theme, or particular slant. It might be a seasonal approach, or a focus, such as cookie recipes, or muffins and scones. There are endless possibilities as I continue developing recipes."

Karina Allrich - Gluten Free Goddess

 

Bring a story to life: Tips and tricks from a talented illustrator

Children’s books come in all shapes and sizes. But the good ones have a couple of things in common: A good story and illustrations that captivate the reader. We got the inside scoop on storytelling from Don Morris, illustrator of When Savannah Got Sick. Don told us about the balance between words and pictures and how authors and illustrators can get started on their very own book (and quickly, too).

When Savannah Got Sick

The story's topic is obviously sensitive. What made you want to tell this story?
"Savannah has a brother named Jackson. He's five years old. He loves Savannah dearly. How do you explain to him that Savannah is dying? For that matter, how does anyone do that? Meredith (the author) and I wanted to tell the story for Savannah and Jackson and we wanted to present it in a form that other children would understand."

What was your hope for the book?
"Our hope was that the book could be used as a tool in comforting other young children in similar situations."

How did you and Meredith work together to make the story come to life?
"Meredith had never written a children's book. We discussed how Savannah's story needed to be simplified and squeezed down to mere sentences on every page and remain useful and entertaining. We also talked about pacing and how the story might unfold."

Did you start with the illustrations or the words?
"Meredith wrote rough text for the story and I drew Savannah and Jackson as young turtles so we could mock up several pages of the book. Our art advisor had used Blurb for a personal project and told us it would be perfect for what we wanted to do. We downloaded the templates and were able to experiment with how the illustrations and words would be displayed."

What would your tips and tricks be for anyone who hasn’t yet made a children’s book?
"If you’re not an illustrator, find your favorite examples of art styles and collect them so you can present them to an illustrator. Show them what you like and tell them why. If you are an artist illustrating a children's book with Blurb, download the templates, print them out, and start laying out your story. Don't just do one layout for any single page—change the view. Do very tight, up-close scenes and follow them up with panoramic scenes. Change the view of the scene from page to page to increase the movement and drama. Think like a fly on the wall. What would they see if they were looking down on the scene?"

How do you recommend developing a character in a children’s book?
"When creating a character, draw it from several angles and with different expressions. Before you decide on your character, it's important to visualize what they look like in as many situations as possible. Use a prop like a hat or a funny hairdo or glasses to make them recognizable and memorable from scene to scene.

Draw or paint traditionally and have a good scanner. Also, use rough drawings as soon as possible in the process of laying out your book. Scan them in and experiment. If you don't have a scanner, take pictures of your roughs. Make them black and white so you focus on the characters and the composition of the scenes, including lights and darks.

If you are designing the book, use a very simple font. Let the story and the pictures be stars of your story. Because there are so many choices of fonts, it is tempting to give way to much attention to picking one that "feels right" or "looks like the character." I can't emphasize it enough—do not over-design your book."

Do you have any other books in the works?
"I have two projects that would be perfect for Blurb. I’m an identical twin and have twin granddaughters under the age of two, so I have lots of story ideas that involve twins. I have an outline and I know what I want them to look like. The other project is much more serious and involves a mystery. It's a true story I worked on several years ago involving a cold case crime. It was published in the Tampa Bay Times and had a huge response and generated lots of curiosity. I think it will make a very interesting tale for young people as a graphic novel."

Don Morris - When Savannah Got Sick

Authors who love Blurb

“I found Blurb.com in 2006 by word of mouth and it was literally life changing! I started with my own family photos and when I exhausted my own stock, began seeking out other people’s treasures and before I knew it, it became a business. In less than a year I had helped art students, a jeweller, a photographer, and a chef make portfolios, catalogues, and recipe books. Every book I put together was a step on the ladder of experience for me. Book designing unleashed a passion for art, poetry, writing and cooking too!”
-Aruna Khanzada

“The idea of writing and illustrating a book that could quickly become either print or electronic was very intriguing. Then I learned that Blurb gives me the possibility of adding a video to my ebook! That was a terrific opportunity: I could use speech, music, and sound effects and add animation to explain something that would have been much duller in static images alone.”
-Nigel Colmes

“What I liked about the program was that it has the same intuitive feel that I used to experience with professional layout software. Only it’s a hundred times easier. I can tell that whoever put it together really loves design and wants to share the joy of creating stuff with people. That’s just great.”
-Christopher Blair

“Creating my own ebook was a much more creative process than the time I spent with professional publishers on my prior books. It is fundamentally different than handing over a stack of photographs and having a publisher drive the entire creative process—even naming your book. This enhanced ebook is my creation from the cover to the back page.”
-Amanda Jones

 

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