22 February 2013

How to Print Your Book

My favorite printer is BYU's Print and Mail. They have been consistently kind, helpful and professional to me, and their prices are better than anyone else I've seen. Our family history committee has used their services for 5 different projects. As a result I've had the opportunity to work with Carol Holland over a number of years. She's given me loads of advice and help. That's why I'm so excited about their new video of Carol giving some basic printing advice. Click here to watch it. Her presentation applies to any printer, not just the one at Brigham Young University, although they do accept long distance electronic submissions. As I watched, I understood the whys behind what we have discovered works the best.

Some hints that I thought helpful are listed below.
1 - For a pleasing effect don't use more than about 3 different fonts. And make sure that you have the rights to any fonts you use so they will come across in the PDF file you create as your finished product.

2 - Microsoft Word can be used to lay out your book, but keep the files as small as you can to avoid having the illustrations jump around. We have used Quark Xpress and InDesign where it is not so important because these more expensive programs do not embed the illustrations into the file until the final pdf. Carol makes the point that it is good to use a program that you feel comfortable with.

3 - For printing, use 300 dpi for photos or 600 dpi for detailed fine line work. Carol recommends png though I use tif.

4 - If you think a photo may be used as a full page, such as a family group, scan as an 8x10 photo so you won't lose quality if you need to make it large.

5 - Try out a photo in gray scale if you think that's how you may use it. Changing from color to gray scale may not look the best if it lacks contrast.

6 - Proofread, proofread, proofread. Try reading the text back to front or out loud. Have more than one person read it. Be sure to look at your pdf file. You will need to okay a final proof from the printer before you order the books. Try just a few pages if you have questions.

7 - Don't turn in your application file for printing (Word, etc. where you have put the book together). It will not be the same on another computer or printer.

8 - Keep your application file for possible corrections but export as a printer file (pdf) to take to the printer. A printer file is much more stable. The printer can usually put together small files to make a longer book.

If you are planning to publish your book, don't wait until you are ready to print. Watch Carol's video now and save yourself some grief as you prepare your files.

08 February 2013

Take time or time out

I have a little reminder that pops up on my computer to relax my eyes by looking away for a minute. For me it is also to remind me to stand up and let my back take a break. News flash for the determined can't-take-a-break me. It doesn't help me if I ignore it. Too often that's what I do.

Time out in Florida--I
jumped in the pool
in my pajamas. 
So how do I get myself to take those needed breaks? In my example above, it's a break from working at the computer. I also need a reminder to take a break from my "other life" and let my writerly self sit down to the computer and put my hands on the keys. I want to write my life story, memoir, autobiography, whichever it turns out to be, but I have to remind myself to do it. Then do it. Usually when I start, I get interested (and ignore the "eyes relax" and stand up reminder). The other day my writing mentor challenged me to sit down and open the file. Only that. After FaceBook and Gmail each got a share of my attention, I did it. I opened it. And yes, it whetted my appetite.

The last week in January I took a week's worth of time out to devote to writing about my life. It was a writing retreat. I wrote. I wrote and I processed my writing with my mentor and I revised and wrote some more. We read chapters from our writing books. We read from our own life writing. It was healing (writing always seems to be) and it was motivating. The Family History Writing Challenge Forum (http://familyhistorywritingchallenge.lefora.com) is a way for us to encourage each other and to find motivation. I have joined a class that is really a writing group for amateurs to share stories and encouragement with one another. A Wednesday afternoon time writing time is now on my schedule (plus the time it takes to prepare to share).

But sometimes I need to just jump in without scheduling. Just do it. Surprise myself. Write because it's fun and because I want to. That's usually how I write a post for this blog. I just jump right in and write. Like I jumped into the swimming pool in January still wearing my pajamas. Today I am still wearing my pajamas while writing this post. That works too.

If we are serious about family history writing, we will schedule a time-out for writing, whether it lasts a week, an hour or 10 minutes. Then we jump in and write whenever we can. Let me get personal here. I just need to get going. I don't have to be overwhelmed. There is power in just doing a little bit. Today I will.