Friday, December 9, 2011

Book Update

Wish I had better news,
but it looks like my book project is on hold indefinitely.

I received my second "paid proof" copy on Wednesday and I was very disappointed. The first attempt didn't turn out well because of my tendency to ignore helpful instructions and I took full responsibility for this.

This time however, I thought I had done everything right. I downloaded Blurb's color profile and "soft proofed" every image. They looked good on my screen (which I thought was calibrated), and assumed they would look similar in print, but instead most of the images were dark, a little contrasty and the color was a bit "off".

After spending hours adjusting the images once again and literally placing another order around 11:00 Wednesday night, I realized that rushing to do this was not a good idea. I quickly cancelled the order and made the difficult decision to step back, pause and do some research before taking the next step.

Page from the book

In the meantime, instead of beating myself up over this, I am trying to accept that part of the problem may be the nature of the images I am trying to reproduce.

I recently met a wonderful artist - Stacey Vetter (thank you Hannah!) and the subject of digitally reproducing images came up. Stacey's paintings, like my hand colored photographs, employ subtle, soft colors. We soon realized that the difficulties she was having were very similar to what I was experiencing. Mainly color shifts and color where there should not be any. It's like the scanner and the printer are looking for color and grabbing whatever they can - and it's usually not correct. For example, magenta hues show up in neutral backgrounds.

I then began to recall how years ago, when I first had images licensed by Bentley Publishing Group, they mentioned the difficulties they were having with my hand colored photographs. This was back when reproductions were created from medium format film transparencies. I thought that once the technology improved it would be easier. I am sure it is easier, but there seems to be mounting evidence that the light use of color could be one of the problems.

Reproducing bright and deep colors appears to be easier. Also, if my images came direct from the computer, thus eliminating the second generation of image created from the scan, I am sure the end result would be more pleasing. But I wanted this collection of images to be hand colored and am still committed to making that happen.

The color issue also came up for me when I uploaded images to one of the many outfits out there making calendars from photographs. The first batch looked good - not great, but good enough for me to order 22 more calendars. Every calendar in that order came back with a green cast to them. It was at this point  I decided I would just make my own. This way I had complete control over the prints used to make the calendar......... which may be where I am headed with the book too and will soon be looking into the option of a "handmade" book.

One thing I failed to mention is that self publishing with Blurb is expensive. Even with a 20% discount coupon, my cost for a standard size hardcover book is more than I would be comfortable asking people to pay. Not that I ever intended this to be a money making project, but if I don't feel right asking for enough to cover my costs, then something is wrong.

I know that creating a handmade book could also be an expensive undertaking, but I think there is more of a chance the end product will be something I feel good about and that is very important.

But then again...........I could go back and work on the images one more time and upload them to Blurb. I don't know and I don't have to make a decision right now. Yes - I am disappointed I missed my goal of having this completed in 2011, but rushing just to say I did that would be a huge mistake and one I am sure I would regret.

I will keep you posted.............

PS After putting together many calendars by hand, I tried Shutterfly and was very satisfied with how the two calendars I ordered from them turned out. I placed another order and I have my fingers crossed............


  1. Dianne, I am sorry to hear of the frustrations you are going through with this project, but I think you are wise to not rush into any decisions. Having a product you are happy with is more important than reaching a time goal. Best of luck with it!

  2. Thank you Gabrielle! I know I made the right decision and you are so right - a time goal is not as important!

  3. Greetings dear Dianne,

    The decision to old back and wait for the new year and then be able to see things with fresh views is good. I know the desire to make a self imposed deadline, but in the end, it is always better to go at it slowly.

    I am very concerned about the results from Blurb and it makes me hesitant as to my friends book project with which I am helping him with and that of my own.

    The costs of a Blurb book leaves no room for profit when going for a hardcover and costs are a concern if one wants to see some kind of distribution.

    Having had a book published, calendars and other print material, I know the kinds of frustrations I faced upon the results. We try to create perfect color balance and in the end, printers are a huge variable over which we have little control.

    Digital files and color profiles have made things better, but it is still not perfect.

    As previously mentioned, I would love to see the two Blurb books and see the results first hand for myself.

    I can only hope that you will find a solution that will satisfy you.

    Warmest regards,

  4. Thank you Egmont! I have seen some great Blurb books so I wouldn't worry too much. Like I said, I think it's more about my images than anything else. Keep us posted!