no. (roses_rejoice) wrote,

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Blog-to-Book Recommendations, or, Why Blurb Sucks.

I am not feeling well today and the "Writers' Block" questions that I am forced to look at when logging on are annoying me even more than they usually do. Indeed, the very phrase "Writers' Block" is starting to conjure up images of dropping a concrete block on the head of whoever wrote the question.

I have been spending a lot of time (too much actually) trying to find a blog-to-book solution that works for me. As a few of my friends know (and a few people Not my friends probably either figured out or got told by some ex-friend with a big mouth), I have other blogs including other LJs and used to have one that I used as a dumping ground for more personal thoughts. I've now stopped using it, primarily because all the situations I used to need to have "more personal thoughts" about have been resolved, and actually should have been resolved by me much more sooner, but the Libra in me tends to dither around a lot about making Decisions before the Scorpio in me finally says "ENOUGH! HAMMER TIME" and puts the smackdown on whoever I've been dithering round about, for good.

I have no desire to leave a ginormous blogful of my thoughts from Olden Dayz online indefinitely until LJ decides to nuke the blog or the entire site or whatsit, so the obvious solution is to pull the whole thing off into hardcopy form and then baleet it. I don't wish to just erase it without making a copy, since it does document at least one or two relationships that were important to my life at the time, even though running across those same people now generally makes me cringe and go "what was I thinking?!" while at the same time being annoyed at myself because I know only too well what I was thinking Then, and the real issue is that I don't think that way Now.

Because LJ has been recommending Blurb as THE solution to making your LJ blog into a book, I tried that first and found that it was incredibly unwieldy. I'm working on a PC with WinXP and it still took me several calls to customer service just to get a copy of the Blurb Booksmart software that would download and install on my computer. When I finally got the program installed, it repeatedly crashed when I tried to "slurp" (shudder - that term should be reserved for 7-11 drinks) my blog entries into the book. The web monkey in their troubleshooting department actually wanted my LJ username and password so he could investigate. I refused to give it to him, not because I'm concerned about some total stranger reading my ranty posts about shit that happened back in 2003, but because I was worried, given the overall quality of my Blurb software experience so far, that he was going to fux0r up on his end and delete or corrupt entries that I was trying to preserve. And also the principle of the thing - why should I be having to hand out my account passwords to people who don't even work for LJ just so they can figure out why their software, not associated with LJ, is not working? I ended up figuring out the problem myself, which was simply that Blurb books are page-limited and their stupid program is not set up to handle slurping in seven years worth of journal which is WAY too large of a file for one book as it turns out. And, of course they don't have a good mechanism for truncating the pages, breaking the book up into volumes, or even figuring out how many pages you're going to have from each blog entry. Worst of all, when I finally went through the time-consuming process of hand-selecting a particular number of entries that I thought would fall within the page limits for a single volume, I discovered that Blurb doesn't "slurp" in the comments from friends, which I consider a major omission.

Meanwhile, while I was wrestling with the vagaries of Blurb, I discovered another solution called which appears to have been written at least in part by someone who actually worked for LJ and thus Has A Bit Of A Clue At Least. Unlike Blurb, LJbook does NOT force you to download any garbage software to your machine. It will process your entire journal into an online PDF and will include pictures, friends' comments, your moods, and your security level. It is not page-limited so it didn't even flinch at creating a 1000+ page PDF for me, which I can then easily break into volumes for printing using Adobe PDF. It runs its whole program in probably less than 10 minutes, which is FAR less time than the Blurb Booksmart program takes (assuming you can even get Blurb Booksmart to load on your machine). will print the finished product and bind it into a book for me. True, you have less control over the layout, but I didn't give a hang about that. About the only things I didn't like about LJbook were that (a) you have to use a particular paper size if you want Lulu to print it and (b) it doesn't gather userpics, but these are pretty minor flaws when you look at all the pluses regarding what it does gather and general ease of use. So, bye-bye Blurb - you might be great for creating a 25-page wedding or vacation photo book but you suck for making a book out of my LiveJournal. And hellooooo LJbook. I'm making this post public in case anybody else out there in Television Land is considering making their blog into a hardcopy book and is researching what to use.

I must say, the fact that I wrote 1000+ pages about utter shite going on in my life also makes me cringe. I know that writing is to some degree therapeutic for me, and more helpful and FAR less costly than going to an actual therapist would be. And I know the 1000+ pages were written over seven (7) years. But still I keep thinking of how much better I could have used that energy, and the interesting ways in which I could have "spent" those pages instead. I mean, 1000+ pages is at least two novels I could have cranked out and who knows how many short stories (though I don't tend to like writing short stories as an art form and don't like reading many of them either). I am trying to see it as the 100 round glass beads or 100 thrown clay cups you have to make in art class before you even begin to master the skills of bead- or cup-making, but I'm having trouble seeing it as anything but a giant waste of my time and life right now. (On top of several of the folks I was blogging about being giant wastes of my time and life in and of themselves.) I'm impatient and sometimes it's hard for me to see any value in "The Journey" - I just want to BE there.
Tags: blog-to-book, blurb, booksmart, ljbook
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