Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Live and Learn--Finally Published That Cookbook

Like I mentioned in my last post, way back like...yesterday, I think it was...I finally finally FINALLY did finish the Cookbook Project that I started, back in another life, which was supposed to be a graduation gift.  For our oldest daughter.  Who graduated in 2014.

So, yeah...  Goals and stuff.

She actually got married last April, AND our youngest daughter graduated high school in June, so I did get off my gimlit butt and get it finished.  I feel very adult and accomplished about this, and I was able to get my first several copies delivered into my hands in time to give it to both of them as a wedding and graduation gift, respectively.  Barely.  Like, the day of the wedding.

Since it's been so long, I'll tell you a little about the process; the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

Upside:  It's gorgeous!  Hard cover, with a photo on the front, and beautiful heavyweight pages with beautiful photos, and there are all of our family's recipes, right there in one place, like I always dreamed of.  I absolutely love it!

Downside:  Program faults that make you want to create new curse words and write massive complaints to the program developers.

Let's call this Exhibit A.  I created and published my cookbook with a program called Blurb.  I believe it was a free download, through which you create your dream book, and simply pay for your book at the time it's published (we'll call that part...Exhibit B...)  *ahem* back to the program.  I love Blurb, except for one mind-blowing glitch, where you type too much text to fit in the first of two column text boxes on a page, and suddenly the overflow text disappears into a wrapped-text alternative universe.  Normally--normally--in a perfect world, the "wrapped text" feature (to me) implies that the text will automatically bump from the too-full text box into the next text box.  On the same page.  Because that would be WHERE IT BELONGS.

But, no.

Instead, the overflow text is sent literally pretty much into outer space, and it pops up in the NEXT AVAILABLE TEXT BOX ON ANY FOLLOWING PAGE THAT ISN'T ALREADY FULL.


Say I'm typing in Column 1 of page 10, and there are two empty columns ON that page.  I fill up Column 1 and expect the wrapping to automatically put the overflow text into Column 2, the empty column right next to Column 1 on the same page.  No.  Instead, I find that the overflow text, and a good portion of the prior sentence, have been slashed off the page entirely and have popped up on, say, PAGE 23, at the beginning of Column 1 on THAT page.  Which in turn causes all the existing text on page 23 to go wonky and out of order, and possibly cause some innocent bystander to be cooking an omelet and wondering why the first line of the recipe says "fold in dry ingredients, add cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder; beat until stiff peaks form, then drop one inch apart onto a greased cookie sheet" or some such nonsense.

What makes it even more fun, is that the carryover location is not easy to find, so you're left sorting out "Where did it go?" and "How much text is incorrectly pasted on the front end of the recipe on the recipient page?"  Seriously.  I think I actually created new phrases and/or some interpretive dance to adequately describe how this fun feature really made me feel.

Aside from that, I loved Blurb.

Oh, and there was that nagging little issue about copyright photos, which meant that I originally went through the book, pasting in gorgeous pictures of recipes and food that I found online here and there *cough*  Google images *cough*, that were perfect representations of my food--as long as they looked exactly like my dishes.  Then, of course, (silly me) I realized that the photos would have to BELONG to me, in order to go in the book written BY ME, so that sucked, and I spent some more time interpretive dancing around my office before deleting all the "not-mine" photos, and starting over, by actually cooking some (but not all) of the recipes in the book and remembering to take a photo for the book each time.

So, that was another hold-up...for like a year...

Aside from that, I loved Blurb.

Oh wait, Exhibit B.  Yes.  Pricing...

*clears throat and shuffles some papers around*

You know when you think about writing a book, and then it's like, "Hey, cool, I'll have a book published, and people can then hopefully BUY the book, and then everyone can use my recipes and I might actually make a little money and the world will be a better place in general."  Yeah...that's not how it really works, with Blurb anyway.

How it really works is, you decide how you want the book laid out and choose all the expensive paper and binding and layout before you start working on the design, and then you work on it for like ten thousand years, and then hit the "publish my book" button, and THEN you realize that it's charged by the page (212 pages), PER book.  So-- my book, finished, hardbound and delivered...cost like $96.00.  EACH. 


I paid almost $100 each for the first two copies of my own book.  Well, someone's making money.

Yes, there's an option for an e-book to be available and people could buy it for like $10, but I hate e-books a little bit so I haven't chosen that as an option for publication, yet.  And there's an option to sell it on Amazon and set my own markup percentage, but honestly even as a paperback, they charge $74.00 each, so where is there room for markup?  Really? A $74.00 paperback?

Friends:  "OMG I love your cooking.  I would totally buy your cookbook! How much is it?"

Me:  "Uhh, $86.95 plus shipping".

Friends:   *nothing*

Hear that?.... That's the sound of profitability crashing and burning.

So, yeah.  It's not for sale, although I did score a sale on a purchase the week after I ordered my first two copies, where it was on sale plus a BOGO or something and I got two copies for like $126.00.  But dang.

Anyway.  YES I did get the book done, and it's beautiful.  But NO, it's not for public consumption.  Even Martha Herself doesn't charge $85.00 for a book.  I mean, come on...


  1. That's hilarious ( in a good way!). Congratulations - doing a Blurb book IS a hard slog - even when you enjoy it. The copyright thing is a pain but not really - not compared to having Getty Images banging on your door demanding your house because you violated copyright. I totally get why it added a year onto the project - I do every single last photo on my craft blog and sometimes I am falling asleep at 2am (yes I know I should sleeping then!) trying to catch up with uploading, editing, putting copyright info in the metadata (because we don't want anyone stealing OUR copyright do we?!) And yes the price of Blurb books is NUTS!!!!!! I did it with a book for my grandson and people said the same "Oh, you should sell it!" And I'm like - "well I would but there aren't enough billionaires who like stories about clowns". But well done - regardless of the cost, those books will be even more cherished by your daughters knowing they are rare copies. And hey, what a good way of CREATING a rare book! Really enjoyed this - thank you. I MUST get back to my original blog and sweep up the tumbleweed blowing through there :-)

    1. Right? I am super leery of having someone call me all official and tell me I must cease and desist. And also, turn in my house keys. So, yeah, everysinglephoto in that book was taken by ME. Not as pro, but at least I own it.

      And yeah, Blurb. What the heck. If I'd known the book would cost the WRITER $100.00, I'd have gone a different direction with publishing. Like, parchment and a quill pen... *sigh*

      So, yeah, these are exclusive and RARE COPIES lol

      Yes-- time to get writing again! *high five*