1. Start your notebook with BookSmart
If you haven’t downloaded BookSmart, our most popular book-making tool, do that now. Once it’s downloaded, open it, and then click the “Start a New Book” button. One great feature of BookSmart is that it allows you to work when you’re offline, so you won’t need an internet connection while you work. Smart, right? At this point, you should have your photos selected, your files named, and some idea of how you want your notebook laid out.
If you don’t have your photos selected yet, that’s okay. You can add or delete photos at any time during the book-making process (we’ll get to that in a bit). But here are a few helpful tips for getting organized before you get too far down the road with your notebook.
- Consider a theme for the notebook. If the recipient is an painter, maybe choose a set of images that inspire painters: Tools of the trade (brushes, paints, etc.), museums, famous artists (make sure the images are in the public domain!), etc.
- Even if you don’t consider yourself a “creative type,” doing a hand-made mock-up of your book ahead of time can be a great way to get your organizational structure worked out before you start building in BookSmart (though you can do it there too). Figure out how many pages you’re going to have, grab a stack of 8.5”x11”, fold it in half, and staple at the fold. Then roughly sketch out which photo goes where. Visualizing the finished book early on can help you figure out the best layout of image and blank pages.
- Have all of your assets in one place on your computer. Get all of your images and photos edited and sized in advance of making your book, and name them so they’re easy to identify (e.g. Notebook_image_01.jpg). And if you have any editorial copy (maybe inspirational quotes), organize that in a single document that you can either import all at once or copy and paste from as you build each page.