Category Archives: Blurb books

The joy of text … or fun with fonts

Alice cover image

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland cover image from my version.

I love typefaces, typography and typesetting and generally playing about with how words look. I spent many years as a non-fiction editor, but I always liked to typeset the books I was working on when I could. When I was at Scholastic Children’s books I worked on highly intergrated illustrated non-fiction mainly, such as Horrible Science, Horrible Geography and Horrible Histories, and we had found it was easier if the editors did the layout, because they knew the text, and the designers did the initial spec, detailing and the covers, of course. It was my favourite part of the job, and as I got more senior and had to give some of it up it was something I really missed. Since I’ve been freelance my work so far has been mainly on the typesetting and digital conversion side of things – so hurrah!

A few weeks back I made a couple of sample ebooks using InDesign CC2014 to test out its fabby new fixed-format export, and while I was researching that, I came across a brilliant InDesign script called Wordalizer (thanks, InDesign Secrets!). It makes word clouds like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Or like this:

spread from Alice in Wonderland

Now I love a word cloud! Wordalizer can use words on the clipboard, scan the open InDesign file, or you can type words in manually. I made the clouds in these images by copying a chapter of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the clipboard. You can tweak the list it generates, delete and add words – it will also accept short phrases and give an indication of the weighting of each word. Then you can assign up to four fonts, choose the colour scheme, word orientation, cloud shape, etc. Once the cloud is generated it is completely customisable. Each word is a separate outline object and can be coloured, stroked, deleted, resized, moved, rotated to taste. Or you can go back into the script and tweak to your heart’s content there – you can even recolour without changing the cloud itself. You can also export as an eps, jpg or png and take it into Illustrator or Photoshop if you want. Hours of fun for a type fan like me!

I’ve wanted to make a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for a while, but I’m certainly not an illustrator, so I’ve used the Alice word clouds I generated as illustrations for my version. I did very little to these clouds once they were generated as I wanted to see what Wordalizer was capable of. More tweaking to be done to the book, but I’m pretty happy with the way it’s going. I’ve converted it to fixed-format ePub, and it’s set up in a Blurb template so I might get it printed too.

spread from Alice in Wonderland

spread from Alice in Wonderland

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Make your own diary

Softback weekly planner diaries

Softback weekly planner diaries

A spare hour, my photos and a slightly tweaked Blurb template. Very pleasing, quick delivery and a discount code. Ta–dah – Christmas presents!

Diary inside

Diary inside

Diary inside

Diary inside

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How it started

In 2008 my daughter, Marianne, gave me an unusual Christmas present. It was a small hardback book containing photos I had taken with some public domain poetry and prose. It’s a beautiful little book, and all the more special because my daughter had taken the time to find my photos and some words to go with them. But what also really interested me was how she had done it. I work in publishing, and to me printing a book meant printing hundreds if not thousands of copies – how could she just print one book? It turned out she’d used a company called Blurb. There you can download their book-creation software – or you can use InDesign or Lightroom or your own PDFs these days. Now you can even make a fixed-format ePub.

Book by Blurb

First Blurb book I ever saw

Then in 2010 my husband’s band took their show on the road and I edited the tour blog and added some photos and this book was made.

Bootlegs book

The Bootleg Sixties tour blog 2010

On a roll by then, I gathered together a collection of photos and memories from my wedding.

Wedding book

Wedding book printed by Blurb


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