The Garden Muse Portfolio goes to print!

17 03 2012

Dear MagCloud, I take back every awful thing I thought about you last night (including the sailor-worthy words I uttered under my breath). I still think you should have official tech support (phone support, perhaps, and I’d gladly pay by the minute for it), but in the end, my case worker, Adriana, was a big help via e-mail (even if it appeared I was hell bent on proving her wrong). In one e-mail, Adriana wrote: “Also, the images on that file are stunningly beautiful. I’m sure when you are done, this will be a stellar piece. Hang in there.” (Thanks for that, Adriana—your comment cheered me up until I got frustrated again.)

I wrote about MagCloud on this blog here in 2009 and here in 2010. This is the first time I’ve taken the time to work on a project to try out the service.

Despite my repeated attempts to upload what I thought was a properly-prepared file, I was met with the same *&#)*!@&#)!# error message every time. I was using their template that I had downloaded for this size and was told later by Adriana that they discontinued the template so I shouldn’t use it (did I miss that meeting?). I read the pdf preparation file that Adriana e-mailed me so I could amend my template to their exact specs. I created seven different files, all with the same end result. Eventually I resorted to exporting four page simple test pages just to prove my theory that it couldn’t possibly be me causing these latest problems. After a while, I started naming things like: magtestone.pdf, magtesttwo.pdf, final.pdf, finalfinal.pdf, reallyfinalfinal.pdf, thisisthelastoneIswear.pdf, Igiveupmylifeisover.pdf, magcloudyouareonmylastnerve.pdf, Illneverbeaselfpublisher.pdf and magcloudpleaseletmeinorIwillunpostallthoseglowingreviewsaboutyou.pdf. I briefly contemplated assigning a file name that would make even my toes curl, but I figured the system would spit it back at me for being so unladylike.

After a day to reflect, run errands and come back with fresh eyes, I figured out what I was doing wrong. It was a very simple little step that I had overlooked—do not click on “spreads” when you’re outputting the pdf for MagCloud. If you do, you will be informed (repeatedly) that page 1 is okay but the other pages aren’t the same size (which sounds completely insane because it is the same file). You will also be told that your bleeds are not correct. That one stupid mistake kept me up until 2:00 a.m., then I finally waved the white flag.

The file is now uploaded and I’ll receive my sample copy sometime next week. I’m crossing my fingers that it looks as good in print as it looks in the file! I already know the quality of their paper and printing is great—I’ve bought sample magazines in the past. It’s a great way to publish a magazine with very little investment (more time than money, actually)—no need to go to a traditional printer to get a decent-looking publication with this print-on-demand option. I paid an extra buck for it to be perfect bound rather than saddle-stitched (due to the number of pages). I may even open the publication up for purchase if it meets my quality control standards.

I’ve scattered some of my favorite gardening quotes through the 88-page document and have identified all the images by their print name, common flower/plant name and the Latin name. All of these images are either in the current exhibit or will be for sale at the reception on April 15. I may expand the publication (as if it isn’t long enough) and include garden photography tips as well before I offer it for sale in the MagCloud store.

If you’re in the D.C./Northern Virginia area, just skip, sashay, slink, saunter or skidaddle on over to the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens from now until April 29. If you’re in the mood for great appetizers (courtesy of Kelley Hospitality), good company and photographic eye candy (who doesn’t love flowers and bugs?), join me at the reception on April 15 from 1-3 p.m. Since the show runs until April 29, you’ll have plenty of time to see it! For more details, visit my show website here.

For now, I hope you enjoy the cover and the first 16 pages (I’ll just be over here in the corner…wearing my dunce cap).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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My amazing new find—MagCloud!

25 01 2010

I received the sample magazines I purchased from MagCloud (http://www.magcloud.com) and am quite impressed with the reproduction quality. I ordered two—Plant Society by Matt Mattus and International Photographer by Bryan Patterson. I was really impressed with the quality of both the paper and the printing.

MagCloud allows you to publish your own magazine using any layout program (InDesign, QuarkXpress, Photoshop, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, Apple Pages and Scribus—see specs and download templates here). When the design is completed, you must export to Acrobat pdf format (read their “how to publish” specs here.) You upload your pdf to MagCloud, fill out the description, and order a proof, which they print, bind and mail to you in two weeks or less. You review the proof, make changes (if necessary) and upload a new pdf file.

When you are happy with the final proof, you mark the issue as “published” and set the price. MagCloud charges 20 cents per page and the publisher (you) specifies any markup above that. With the issue “published,” visitors can buy it on the MacCloud website using a credit card or their PayPal account. Orders can be shipped to the U.S., United Kingdom and Canada. More countries will be added in the future. When someone orders your magazine, MagCloud prints, binds and mails the issue to your buyer. You can also send an order to a group of people using their “Ship to Group” capability. Publishers collect royalties via PayPal.

When publishing any magazine, your publication must be set up in “signatures” of four pages. This means your publication can be 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28 pages, and so on. The total number of pages in the file must be evenly divisible by four. A MagCloud magazine can be as cheap as .80 cents per issue (4 pages—perfect for a marketing brochure!), all the way up to MagCloud’s maximum of 100 pages at ($20.00 per issue), plus shipping. You determine whether you want a markup above the cost of printing to be added for your audience/buyers.

From the MagCloud website: This service is ideal for publishers of small run magazines—special interest groups, clubs, schools and niche magazines—looking to minimize their setup, operational and print costs, and increase their advertising revenue. MagCloud also offers a great opportunity for electronic magazines and popular blog and website owners who are looking to provide their readers the same great content but in a portable and slick printed magazine style format.


Check out the “recently featured magazines” here, or use the search feature on MagCloud to look for magazines on topics that interest you. Some publications are personal efforts (such as family albums, cookbooks, calendars, design and photography portfolios, etc.), while others are published by businesses and associations. Even actor Ashton Kutcher has jumped on the MagCloud bandwagon—in collaboration with GQ Magazine, HP, and The Gentlemen’s Fund, Kutcher published a photo essay to raise awareness of the flood that devastated Cedar Rapids, Iowa in the summer of 2008. All proceeds from the sale of the magazine go to support the rebuilding of Cedar Rapids. Learn more about the publication and see an online preview here.

One Respe: A Photographic Benefit for the Survivors of the Haiti Earthquake features the donated works of several photographers, including photojournalist Mary Ellen Mark. All proceeds from the sale of this 40-page publication go to the American Red Cross International Response Fund for Haiti relief.

Love dogs? Love Shirl Magazine, a 56-page, ad-free magazine published by Lee Spillennar, is whimsically designed and highlights living, working and playing with your dog.

Check out Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Quarterly, published by Spot On Media LLC, with stories of survivors, athletes, advocates and articles on healthy living, nutrition and cutting-edge medical advances.

Publish a magazine showcasing your photography! James Worrell has done just that with Food for Thinking. Drinking. Eating. and Make-Up. Give family members their 15 minutes of fame with a family reunion magazine like publisher Andrea Bagley has done with Roeber Family Reunion. Having trouble getting things done? Check out publisher Michael Sliwinski’s Productive Magazine. Frog lover? Check out Leaf Litter, published by Tree Walkers International, with beautiful photographs and articles related to amphibian conservation, ecology and natural history. Are you a Foodie? Check out Off the Vine Magazine, published by Jennifer Anne Shorr. This 44-page publication covers new flavors, fine dining, travel, wine review, cooking and beautiful photography from the west coast.

Publish your own calendar! Take a look at Brian Jones’ 2010 Pacific Northwest Nature Photography calendar. The publication runs 28 pages, so the cost is approximately $5.60, plus shipping. The list price is $10, which gives him just over $4.00 profit (won’t make him rich, but it’s something if he generates enough interest for volume purchases!). If making money isn’t your priority—say, you just want to publish your family reunion magazine and have it available to your family to purchase directly, you can list the price for the actual cost. The best part: you can use your calendar for marketing purposes. There is no minimum order, so order only what you need—no excess inventory in your studio. I really love this concept and have all sorts of ideas spinning in my head right now!

In between design jobs and the massive spring cleaning I’ve undertaken, I’m working on a “how to photograph your garden” magazine with photographs and how-to articles. I hope to have the magazine available for purchase by early summer. If the venture fares well, I might make it a regular series on different topics (how to photograph portraits, weddings, special events, landscapes, etc.).

I’m now inspired to put together a portfolio magazine with my garden photographs, accompanied by my own poetry and garden essays as well as some of my favorite works from other poets. I’m letting each image I pull from my archives inspire the design and this is one of the layouts that is completed. This two-page spread features a lacecap hydrangea I photographed at the Atlantic Botanic Garden. The poem is by one of my favorite writers, Rainer Marie Wilke, and has been translated by Guntram Deischel.

Blue Hydrangea

Just like the last green in a colour pot
So are these leaves, withered and wrecked
Behind the flower umbels, which reflect
A hue of blue only, more they do not.

Reflections are tear-stained, inaccurate,
As if they were about to cease,
And like old blue notepaper sheets
They wear some yellow, grey and violet,

Washed-out like on a children’s apron,
Outworn and now no more in use:
We contemplate a small life’s short duration.

But suddenly some new blue seemingly is seen
In just one umbel, and we muse
Over a moving blue delighting in the green





New print-on-demand option

8 07 2009

Thanks to Maggie Soladay, a photo editor/producer/photographer and member of www.linkedin.com, for writing about print-on-demand books and posting a link to ASMP/NY’s blog on the subject. Maggie is in the “Women in Photography” group I belong to on Linkedin. ASMP/NY recently did a test of on-demand publishers for photo books and the results are posted in the link below.

http://sharpernewyork.blogspot.com/2009/07/print-on-demand-book-test-results.html

So far the only one I’ve tried is Blurb. I did one of their smaller books and although the printing quality was adequate, I wasn’t thrilled by layout and typeface/point size restrictions.

Yesterday I stumbled onto http://magcloud.com/. I’m considering trying the service out for a few projects. I was delighted to then see it got very high ratings in the ASMP test. I have some ideas for a magazine (actually two!) and thought it would an inexpensive way to do some limited run copies for distribution to potential advertisers. I am savvy enough to realize it’s not an ideal market in which to launch a magazine, but really—is there ever a good market to do such a thing? And yet there are new magazines popping up anyway. The economy may be the death of some current magazines, but it doesn’t appear to be a deterrent altogether. A magazine format could definitely serve as a portfolio for a photographer or artist, or even for fun projects such as a birthday or anniversary book. There are several “wedding magazines” that photographers have created for specific clients as a keepsake. You can browse (and even purchase) magazines that have been uploaded to the site. It’s a neat concept—I’ll try it out and report back with my findings.

Check out their help and FAQ pages to learn more about the process, costs and other details.

I discovered an interview with the MagCloud creators here and a good discussion about MagCloud on FOLIO: mediaPRO. I just learned here that the MagCloud project is the brainchild of HP Labs and HP’s Corporate Ventures team. This excerpt from that last link sums up what MagCloud is all about:

It costs you nothing to publish a magazine on MagCloud.com. The service lets you upload a high-resolution PDF and MagCloud takes care of the rest: printing, mailing, subscription management and more. The MagCloud website functions as a virtual newsstand, where readers can browse and, using PayPal or a credit card, order publications. The publisher specifies a markup on each copy sold, which MagCloud collects and pays the publisher at the end of each month.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.