Why And How You Should Self-Publish Your Diary Or Journal

Bakari Chavanu 17-02-2014

If you keep a journal or diary on one of the several online life logs  or desktop journaling software, or if you publish your thoughts using a note-taking app, you also might be interested in publishing your secret thoughts in form of a book. The process of self-publishing is easier than you think (start with our guide to self publishing).


If the journaling software you use can export your content as PDF, sites like or can turn your uploaded PDF into an actual book for a fairly affordable price.

I recently received my first self-published book of journal entries that I started in 2011, based on using the popular Mac and iOS Day One application. This article explains why you might want to self-publish your own journal, and  what to consider when planning to do so.

Why Should You Self-Publish?

Though keeping and accessing a digital journal is more secure and easier to search than a paper journal, a published journal in book format, is like looking at a cherished family photo album. A published book feels more intimate than reading your content online or on a piece of software.

Self-publishing your journal also provides another way to backup and preserve your journal beyond the software. Your published journal, depending on the content, may be of interest to your family or even the wider public. The great Anaïs Nin wrote her diaries expressly to be read by others.

Anais nin


What You Should Consider

There are several things you need to consider when planning to publish your journal or diary:

  1. Self-publishing book sites The 4 Best Online Print-on-Demand Book Services for Self-Publishers Self-publishing has never been easier than it is today. Here are the best print-on-demand book services that'll help you create and sell your book online. Read More like and allow you to upload your typed content in PDF format for publishing, so make sure that the journaling software you’re using exports to that format.
  2. If you have a few dozen pages of journal entries, upload a sample PDF from your journaling software to a publishing site and preview the results. Check to make sure if the printing format preserves the layout, titles and paragraphs, and photos in the exported PDF.
  3. Consider how much and what part of your journal entries you want to publish. You might want to publish journal entries about the birth and first year of your child, or a travel journal including photos. Writer and director, Spike Lee, actually published a few journals based on his successful movie projects.
  4. If your self-published journal includes personal and sensitive content, consider what it might mean if your book is discovered by a family member before or after you die.

Going from Blog to Book

Before I explain how I published my Day One entries using LuLu, let me also point out that can also publish blog content into book form. This feature supports Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, and WordPress, and it conveniently imports your blog content into the book format. You can keep a private blog on one of these sites and publish your book using the service.


Going from Day One to Lulu

I used LuLu to self-publish my journal because when I previewed a sample PDF upload on the site, it looked exactly like the stylish layout of the entries in Day One, including the elegant styling of the Avenir font.


LuLu journal pages

In addition, the price of the book ($13, plus shipping) was very affordable for an 8.5″x11″, 419-page paperback, including optional black-and-white or full color photos.

The process for publishing on LuLu includes choosing between a paperback or hardback edition, adding a title, selecting to make the book for sale or for private use only, and then adding the cover design and text on the back of the book.

LuLu paperback


LuLu walks you through the process really well, but our 2009 article about LuLu publishing How To Publish Your Own Book (In Print) Cheaply Read More also provides a solid overview of the process. It’s important to carefully preview your book on the site before you send it for printing.

For my book, I selected one from LuLu’s dozens of generic covers, but you can design your own and upload it.

LuLu journal cover


With everything done, I relish lying in bed and reading through my published journal – as I will in years to come – while my box of paper journals written in less attractive penmanship have hardly ever been reread.


You may never get around to writing a book for others to buy and read, but maintaing a journal or diary How To Keep Writing Daily Journal Or Diary Entries For A Year The start of a new year is a great time to begin keeping a journal or diary, but the challenge lies in keeping up your new daily journal writing habit. Read More for self-publication one day is indeed the next best thing. With the help of user-friendly web services, it is very doable. Let us know if you’re giving a thought to publishing your own journal, and what questions you still have about the process.

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  1. Yari
    January 20, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Should I read other published diaries before publishing mine? I just feel like my story won’t compare to the rest.. I’m psychotic!

  2. Sandy
    March 30, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I keep all my diaries in Efficient Diary software( and enjoy my thought deeply every day via it, thanks the teams to create such a wonderful tool for us.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      March 31, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Sandy, thanks for letting us know about that resource. I'll check it out.

  3. Saikat B
    February 18, 2014 at 2:14 am

    It has been OhLife for me for quite some time. I have to check if they have a method for backing up the entire diary. Should be there I guess.

    • Bakari Chavanu
      February 18, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Saikat, I tried OhLife for a while. I like the design and the daily email reminders, but I find Day One more personal and more efficient to use. Does OhLife export to PDF?