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Thoughts on books, design, storytelling, family, and more. From my little corner of the world to yours.

Archive for the ‘box problem’ Category

this dairy crate will become a book

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

dairy crate of family history 

Yesterday I met with Bob, the owner of this dairy crate filled with family history.

For his 80th birthday, Bob’s children gave him the gift of working with me to make a book. Now, I have made gifts before, but never before have I been the gift. It is a total honor. Besides which, I can already tell I’m going to like working with Bob.

We will take our time with this project. For health reasons, Bob cannot devote as much time as he might otherwise to gathering his resources. But we came up with an outline for his book and a production schedule for him to organize photos for one family member per week. A very doable task.

His book will be a scrapbook-type format telling his family history. Meaning, it will be a collection of photos with stories/captions/descriptions along the way when a particular photograph triggers a memory or story. Not necessarily a thoroughly written family history, just whatever he’s got stored in his memory bank and dairy crate.

Here are more shots of said crate and its contents.

dairy crate of family history 

old letters 

I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

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5 tips: turn your box of photos into a book!

Friday, April 25th, 2008

my box of old photos 

I just had such a fun meeting with my neighbor Judie and her cousin Maureen about their upcoming book project: their grandparent’s story.

Judie and Maureen are at what I call the ‘concept stage’ for their book. I love talking to people at this stage! They have a general idea of the story they want to tell, they have gobs of stuff from their boxes of photos and memorabilia, they still feel like they are missing a ton, and they are (quite naturally) feeling very overwhelmed.

So, here is what I told them. These are my tips for anyone who suffers from what I call the Box Problem (boxes of photos and no clue what to do with them!) and is ready to start on a book.

5 Tips For Turning Your Box of Photos Into a Book:

1. Pick one clear story. You can’t cram the whole box into a single book – an especially tempting approach for first time bookmakers. No one will want to read the book and you’ll feel scatterbrained putting it together.

examples of a good story: Mom’s Memoirs, Grandparent’s Story, Story of a Family Farm, One Branch of Family, Love Letters, Your Child’s School Photos, Your Family’s Santa Pictures, Celebration of 90 Years of Life, etc.

examples of a bad story: combining any of the above, mixing many branches of a family, mixing too much family history when telling a family member’s story

2. Create a table of contents. Totally essential. This will be your don’t-leave-home-without-it roadmap for the entire book project. It will help you organize images, gather your thoughts, and write your story.

3. Get help scanning the images. Unless you are a whiz with scanning, this can be an overwhelming task. We now offer a great scanning price – around 250 images for $100! Even if you’re not ready to start on your book we’d be happy to get your images ready for you. Email if you’re interested.

4. Pick a meaningful deadline. And I mean meaningful. Otherwise it won’t stick. Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas, Family Reunion. If you have a reason to finish the book, you will.

5. Accept that you will never be fully “finished.” You won’t find that one photo, that one family name, or the map of that one town in Sweden where Grandpa grew up. But it won’t matter. With few exceptions, my clients hand off resources to me and say things like “I’m sorry it’s not more organized” or “If I just had one more week…” or “I feel like I’m missing something.” But when they see their book designed, they are blown away. What looks rough and incomplete in a text document turns beautiful and priceless in a book form.

Books are magical that way.

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