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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).
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.
What You Should Consider
There are several things you need to consider when planning to publish your journal or diary:
- Self-publishing book sites like LuLu.com and Blurb.com 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Blurb.com 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.
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 walks you through the process really well, but our 2009 article about LuLu publishing 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.
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 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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