It’s Not About the Money

blurbIn a business (book publishing) that’s all about money, it seems strange that I often hear someone at my lectures say: “It’s not about the money.”

This is a common thread among folks who want to share a family history or have written a story for their grandchildren. Nowadays, there are a number of ways to fulfill this need.


This type of book production is often referred to as “private publishing,” a rather elastic term covering a wide variety of printing possibilities. The common thread among them is that the final product will not be sold to the general public.

There’s another aspect of private publishing that goes virtually unnoticed: If you’re a first-time publisher, it’s a good way to learn some of the ropes without investing a lot of time or money.


There are two print avenues to explore here, online and local print shops. Each of them has its advantages.

It’s best to think of the online route as analogous to making a scrapbook. When you use services such as iPhoto Books, Shutterfly, My Publisher or Blurb, your printer provides you with templates into which you fit photos and a small amount of text. (Search the term “photo books” to find a list of printers who do this type of work. The print quality of the four I’ve recommended here is excellent.)


There are a few choices you can make for your book—the number of photos on a page, the font you use for the text—but they’re limited. The software is deliberately simple to use for two reasons— to make it possible for anyone to make a beautiful book, and to ensure that what you make fits the specifications of the printer.

Be aware that the cost of these full-color books (hardcover or soft) is high relative to the number of pages printed, and they can be purchased only by you.

If you’re looking for more control over your book’s look and design, I recommend talking to your local copy shop. Many of them have the capability of printing a book with a perfect binding. (A perfect binding is the glued type common to every paperback on your shelves.)

When you use a local copy shop, you have the flexibility of printing from material that’s handwritten, hand illustrated or produced in a software program such as Word, Pages or InDesign.

Be sure to talk to your copy shop first so that you know their printing specifications.


These 60-second reads about the writing life include  practical advice and guidance on book publishing. They will be gathered in a new book scheduled for late 2017 called What Would William Shakespeare Do?

I’ll let you know when it’s ready to read.



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