Text in Blurb

by Deborah Khora
(Placerville, California)

Tales from the Enchanted Forest (not Oz!)

Tales from the Enchanted Forest (not Oz!)

I think, in retrospect, Blurb is really meant for photographers to publish their books with small "blurbs" of text describing the details of their pictures.

The problem with using significant amounts of text in Blurb

The text-making aspect of Blurb is far different than Microsoft Word, or Word Perfect, and it is difficult to use. Editing can be extraordinarily difficult if one is dealing with large blocks of text, as in my book. A picture book would work just as well at Blurb, but again, with small blurbs of text.

Blurb utilizes templates. You choose a page layout design and must work within the format. They, like Apple, appear to place greater value on graphics or photos, rather than text.

The printing, binding and shipping, in our case, was excellent. The graphics were sufficient, although we are aware of a graphics enhancement feature.

We can improve the quality of the graphics, but there is very little we can do to improve the quality of the text in Blurb except to re-block it, rather than organize it in standard paragraph form.

The text justification feature is not worth using. It cuts off letters at the end. For instance, if a word ends with a "g," you'll probably only see a half-g in print.

So, basically in the end, everyone comes out pretty happy...except the author, who specializes in text.

Probably the most valuable advice I can offer if you publish with Blurb is to order one demo copy for yourself first before opening the book up to public sale.

Do NOT order multiple copies of the first run! The savings you earn on a 10-book purchase is not worth the grief when you realize how faulty the editing feature is, and you'll have to edit a second, or even third time. After all, the text is a reflection of the author's skills.

Webmaster's note: Here's a tutorial on using text in Blurb. You'll see it's not exactly intuitive!

Beyond the text: Blurb coupon marketing

As for marketing, Blurb does offer coupons, which I can offer to customers.

In spite of the existing obstacles at Blurb, I do have faith in them still, and do tend to believe they will not leave us entirely abandoned, floundering on these lonely shores. We are their meal-ticket after all.

I wrote Blurb an e-mail informing them that I promote them nearly every day on Facebook. I am a political activist interacting with literally hundreds, if not thousands of parents and grandparents fighting the corruption in family court. I am always suggesting these people publish their stories, or create books of their children, by their children, and for their children.

I mentioned to Blurb the least they could do in compensation is offer more coupons.

The book has been out for two months and we have sold 10 copies. Only one customer used a coupon so far.

Overall, I recommend the program. If nothing else, you finally have something to show for all your hard work. And, now that you know how difficult this is, do you really, really want to be a writer? Which brings me to...

Who profits from Baum's Wizard of Oz today?

I don't know the answer. If I did, I would not have asked it. We all know it isn't author Baum! And actually, he published many, many books, and it was definitely not his writing that got him published; it was his imagination. Go see for yourself in the local library. His writing is not so hot!

I have somehow always had this idea in my head long before I wrote and published my book: that I myself would probably not profit. This helps to temper my expectations. Of course, we are all truly inspired by authors, such as J.K. Rowling, who are benefiting from the fruits of their labors in their own day.

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Apr 29, 2011
The children?
by: Deborah Khora

But what about Baum's children? Oh this is not good news. You just took the fun out of my day. Boo-hoo.

Apr 29, 2011
Benefiting from L. Frank Baum
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Deborah, I think I can answer your question about who's making money from The Wizard of Oz.

Whoever wants to!

Published in 1900 (if Wikipedia has the numbers right), it's been in the public domain since 1956. I could reprint it in its entirety right here on this site, slip in some advertising and some links to Amazon, and make money - legally, off of kind old L. Frank! In fact, there are plenty of places on this site where I post public domain material. Here, for example, is my Aesop collection. Since he's some 3000 years old, I figure he won't mind!

It sounds like Blurb wasn't perfect for your project, but it might be a nice fit for traditional picture books, where more real estate is taken up by the illustrations than the text. Sound about right?

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