Well it will not come as a big surprise to most people to discover the second item on my list of "Things to do before I'm 50" which I only discovered a few weeks before I became 60 was to "publish my first book". Writing, publishing and printing a book within four weeks was quite a challenge, but challenges are there to be overcome (or some such silly phrase from the bottom of a daily calendar). And the challenge was overcome by using the wonderful print-on-demand services of Lulu.com. I cheated somewhat by using a selection of 2007 postings from this blog as the subject of the book, together with some updated notes and an introduction. The whole thing came to some 120 or so full-colour pages and I was anxious to discover two things : (i) how easy was the Lulu self-publishing process, and (ii) what the resulting quality of printed book was like? And it has to be said that the results in both cases were quite exceptional.
The process leading to the up-loading of a manuscript, its formatting, and its translation from a Word document to a pdf file which could be read by the printers was much easier than expected. Using the templates provided it was not difficult to achieve a pdf file which had none of the hanging paragraphs or cut images that you might expect. I was able to achieve a near-perfect result at the first attempt. The nature of my book meant that it required full colour on every page and a reasonably large A5 format. This did mean that the production costs - at about £13.50 per copy - were not cheap, but as you are not tied to a print-run, there is no investment required other than perhaps buying a copy for yourself!
Printing for the European market takes place in Spain. Even so, the turn-around from order to delivery was very good at about 10 days. When the two copies I ordered did eventually arrive I was very impressed by the quality. The print quality is excellent, as is the paper quality. The binding is also very robust. The idea of producing "Postcards From Nowhere" was intended not only to achieve the second of my stated ambitions (OK, ten years too late but what the hell) but also to test out the self-publishing, print-on-demand process. I have to say that I am very impressed indeed by the whole undertaking.
I am already planning Book No. 2 and for that I hope to go one step further and make use of the full publishing service package offered by Lulu. I will report back when the results are available. In the meantime you can sample the quality of the product yourself .... just follow the link in the side panel.