The Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign hit its modest £300 target in its first week and currently stands at £351.

Once it had hit the target I started in earnest on actually producing the thing. I had worked out a rough 20–24 page layout on scrap paper, identifying how to fit in the following:

  • Front cover
  • Contents
  • Intro / artist statement
  • Acknowledgements (crowdfunding supporters)
  • Essay / article / whatever
  • Virtual exhibition info
  • 20x images from the project
  • Back cover

Format preference

I had previously been considering either a newsprint or magazine style publication. However, on laying out the content as scraps of paper it became apparent that I really wanted a 24-page publication to make it all work – and the newsprint option got too expensive at 24 pages (it was marginally over my self-defined budget at 20 pages).

This, coupled with the fact that I had received another sample pack from the Newspaper Club and could better visualise the potential outcome, actually drove me away from newsprint and towards a digitally printed magazine. At a quantity of 50, the unit cost for a 24-page magazine is less than the cost of a 16-page newspaper.

After watching several user reviews of Blurb’s magazine product, I decided to try them out. I know that Blurb has a reputation of ‘entry-level’ when it comes to book production, and as final year students we are expected to be more creative and professional, but in this instance I am comfortable with the choice of supplier, as (a) it is not a book, and (b) the user reviews I saw of the magazine product, especially the Premium paper option, were uniformly positive. In any case, I am ordering a single copy proof before committing to the whole order.

The bonus on the whole decision was realising that a Blurb magazine counts ‘pages’ separate to the cover material (a hangover from book production?) – so the quote I had previously gathered for a “20-page magazine” actually gave me 20 inside pages plus a front and back cover, inside and outside – i.e. a 24-page publication in total.

Laying it out

My first idea was laying it out using the Book function in Adobe Lightroom that I had used for earlier assignments.

This was quickly rejected as far too basic and limiting in terms of its layout capabilities. It might just about have looked OK for simple plates of one image per page, but for the other pages where there needs to be text information of varying sizes and layouts, it just can’t do it.

I then tried Blurb’s own BookWright application.

While this application has greater flexibility and layout options than Lightroom, it still stopped way short of producing something professional.

Finally I bit the bullet and decided to learn how to use Adobe InDesign, something that I have avoided for a while. I needn’t have been scared! It was actually easier to pick up than I had expected. A combination of very professional templates and a couple of good online tutorials really helped, and within a day or two I had a reasonable first draft.

I shared the first draft with my fortnightly Zoom study group and got some useful feedback:

  • Too many fonts and colours
    • Fair point, I had picked a magazine template not a catalogue one, and it was a bit more visually varied than necessary
  • Too many text-heavy pages before getting to the images
    • Again, totally good point… I had stacked all the text-based content to the front of the catalogue, and I have now followed the suggestion to move the essay/article to the end of the publication

The version I have ended up sending off for a proof copy is (corrections notwithstanding) almost but not quite complete. I have left the essay/article spread with placeholder text. I intend to write a 1000-word piece on my personal journey through learning about memory through photography.

… but I haven’t started actually writing it yet.

Finishing touches

Rather annoyingly, after setting the whole thing up in InDesign and tweaking it over a few iterations, I realised that the Blurb plug-in wasn’t going to work with the version of InDesign I had got from Adobe (too new!)… I had downloaded the box-fresh InDesign 2021 that Adobe offered me, but it is too new for Blurb to work with yet. So I had a bit of a faff in downgrading my InDesign to a Blurb-supported version then copying all of my pages across one by one (backwards compatibility is infamously not one of Adobe’s strengths).

However, this task proved to be useful as it gave me an opportunity to look very closely at every page layout, and make some tiny tweaks (such as positioning of image captions and page numbers) that I think in the end make the pages look neater. So the faff turned out to be a useful second check.

I uploaded the files and ordered a single proof copy yesterday. The shipping for a single item is three times the cost of the item itself… but overshooting the crowdfunding target gives me a buffer. In any case, I will most likely need to pay for InDesign for at least a month unless I can box the whole thing off very quickly (you get a seven day trial then 14 days to change your mind, so 21 days in total before you commit cold hard cash).

Next steps

Once the proof copy is in my hands, I will:

  • Check it thoroughly to see how closely it matches my screen version – and my quality expectations
  • Make any necessary tweaks
  • Write the 1000-word piece for the back of the catalogue