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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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.