Publishing a Book – A Look at “Blurb”

I became involved with Blurb.Com a few years ago because they work with Blogs. There are numerous printers out there to create your photo book or textbook or whatever your needs, but Blurb can “slurp” your blog right in to their book (meaning they take your year of babbles on your blog and convert it directly to book format). This was ideal for me and my personal blog because while I’d had the hope in the first year of my son’s life to manually scrapbook all my blogs, complete with photos and intricate scrapbooking decals… seriously, who has the time for that. Blurb saved me. A few hours of tweaks here and there, adding a few extra pictures, I was able to take my mommy-blog from Blog-format, to printed… and $40 later, I had something hardbound for my shelf.

Update to this year, and a genealogical need.. It’s Time to print something out for the family. And in my case most personally because we do a gift-exchange, and I was given my father, the man with everything. This year I’m going beyond just the report of his ancestry, I created a Book. Oh thank you Blurb.

Let me break down what I learned, where I’m coming from, and some notes here & there.

1 – the Blurb application is FREE. It will take some time to download, but not too much space on your computer. (you pay for the printing/shipping, but the application is free)

2 – Decide on your audience – It will help you decide what documents/reports you might need.
I’m printing an Entertainment Book. I am not printing a detailed history of the family, neither ancestral nor descendant report. I knew from the get-go the “reports” I could export from my genealogy software would be of little use to this. I wanted all the bazillion photos I have stored (many my family has not seen) and a brief listing of families, lines, and history. I knew going in to this that if I wanted a brief ancestral report, I would have to write it out.

* Just to note that if you’re going with something different, Blurb can import any and all files. So if you want to print out that 28page of Descendant Listing from your genealogy software, it can import it. then, you can tweak it and reformat as needed.

3 – Organize Your “stuff”
I started last night, importing photos to my new “book” and quickly realized none of my photos were in order, and I had scans from this last summer that I’d never renamed nor put in their correct spot. And I’m insanely organized on my computer, yet I still needed to stop my project for a good hour and re-organize.

I tend to organize my files something like this….
Loops – Jr – Charles – Melba and Charles at Fontana 1940

Everything is labeled first with surname, then because I have III, Jr, and Sr., I need that first. Then what personal name. Then description of the photo.  (this way you can find all the Charles Jr photos in one lump)

4 – Format, Crop and Fix your photos
Regardless of what program you use, Always keep an Originals folder, as well as a “cropped” folder. In my case I have scanned images of 8.5×11 that are beautiful but 40% of the photo is the edge. I crop those edges off for the purposes of something like this book. Do Not Ever alter the original! Import your scans/photos to an Originals folder; copy all the images to a secondary folder and then crop and modify your pictures from there.

5 – Get to building your book. I write books and manuals all the time and I tend to just import everything I can find (because you can move and alter later) – your process is up to you. If you need to start with page 1 and move forward as you go, that’s fine. But with Blurb you can insert/delete pages as needed, so if you just want to start importing photos to pages… you can fix later.


as you get going, you should see something like this… a running list of all your pages down below, and the selected page in the big View window at the top.

6 – At any point you can change the format of your page, whether it’s a Text page or Photo Page (note that Text pages also have images, just LESS images than a Photo-page)

7 – Preview your book.

8 – Order your book

And You.Are.Done.
I mean it. Whatever time it takes for you to create your book (mine took me about 10hrs between last night and tonight, and yes it’s almost 2am my time also blogging about the results), you can be done so quickly. It depends on what materials you already have, such as photos and reports; and depends on the tweaks you want to make.

Ancestry of Charles Loops

Genealogy books can be difficult – but you first have to consider your audience. In my family I am the keeper of it all. When my gUncle died a few years ago, his children just packed it all up and sent it to me. They’re interested, of course, but they don’t care about the details. I have learned in my 20yrs of research that my family does not want a report. But they would like to look at a photo album for 20 minutes. And if I can give all the photos and also answer “but where did HE come from” in the same sentence, without it looking like a report… BONUS!

But there in lies #9 – Disclaim whatever you have to offer about your research. Because you are printing a book that will likely be skimmed for a few minutes, and then put on a shelf… give as much information as you can. For this process tonight, I gave my website; I stated where my information came from and where they can find more information; and of course the disclaimer that “All genealogy research is a work in progress; any and all persons listed here are only listed because they are sourced and proven, that I will not list any persons without proper documentation”, blah blah.

If someone picks this up from a shelf in 20yrs, you need to have given what you can; and more information for WHERE the information came from, so they hunt from then on. Do not leave people hanging even if it is immediate family.


2hrs of clean-up between my computer/scans/various drives I maintain
6hrs of book compilation
1hr contemplating more wine, tears at happiness, emails to people trying NOT to tell them what I’d created

Free installation of Blurb product
10 minutes of upload of my 42 page book
30 seconds to enter my credit card
$53 to have the single product shipped to me, at an increased rate to arrive before Xmas. (they have great deals if you’re printing multiple copies, which I will do once I see what the final product looks like).

Blurb Rocks for me.
I’m sure there are other comparable products out there. But this just made it So Easy on me. Insert photo; insert text. Build a page. Go from there.

And hey, if you are of my Loops family, Contact me because you can buy this! Blurb offers the printed version or just a PDF download, but trust me, you want the printed version for your shelf. Let me make a few tweaks off this initial draft and I’ll be printing a number of copies for everyone in the family.

originally posted 12/13 on