How I Made a Throwback Book Project

Life doesn't always map out the way we planned.

When my writing dream was born during college, I had a different book to be my first written one in mind. After 10 years I decided I wasn't ready to write a series so I decided to write a standalone novel as training (I Killed My Friends and It Thrilled Me). Then I felt I didn't have the skill and the courage to pen an entire novel so I wrote spin-off short stories to boost my fiction-writing confidence (Walden and Hyde (and Other Short Stories)). With doubts still pestering me, I threw myself into my own informal training ground by blogging. After one year on Hemlock Time (my previous blog now closed), I decided to celebrate my achievement. I made Xenanimus, a retrospective/throwback book project to continue building my writing self-esteem (doubtful writers can be their own worst critic and they should instead be their own biggest supporter).

In this article, I outline how I created the book. Fellow writers (and even non-writers) who want to create a similar project can hopefully get some tips and pointers here.

Xenanimus

Xenanimus

What is the book project?

The first step was to specify what kind of book I must have by the end of the project.

  • A retrospective (throwback) book to represent the past year
  • A self-published digital book that will be available for free and must be released not that far from the anniversary date
  • The book will only be available in PDF format, not in EPUB and MOBI (this choice was due to time-constraint)

What do I need to make the book?

The next step was to list down the content and the tools I needed in building the book.

  • Since it was going to be a retrospective (throwback) book, I must choose blog posts from the past year.
  • To make the digital book, I needed a software.
  • To add visuals for the book, I needed graphics.

After listing the general things I must have to proceed with the project, I chose the specifics.

An iBooks screenshot showing some of the Xenanimus’ cover’s evolution

An iBooks screenshot showing some of the Xenanimus’ cover’s evolution

  • Putting all the blog posts I made this past year was a definite no. Instead, I chose what I thought were the best to represent the year that just passed.
  • I also needed to offer something new. I picked a few of my unpublished writings.
  • I browsed the Internet for bookmaking software. I chose Adobe InDesign based on Guy Kawasaki's recommendation. Adobe has a 30-day trial of their Creative Cloud applications so I took advantage of that.
  • I browsed my old photographs but only found one that I felt suitable for the book. It was then used as the book's cover. Since it was also used as the main photograph of my website for a certain period of time, it fit the theme of retrospection.
  • I used the Creative Common photos from Unsplash.com for the chapter images.

What are the preliminary tasks to be done?

Before diving into the bulk of the work, I made some preliminary tasks to prepare myself before tackling the big ones.

  • I arranged how the selected blog posts would appear in the book. I didn't want them to appear chronologically.
  • Even though I was familiar with Adobe Illustrator already, I had to get acquainted with InDesign. I read text tutorials and watched videos on YouTube.
  • I made prototype covers of the book so I could have an initial feel of what the book would like.

Now, on to the bulk of creating the book!

  • I continued updating the cover before settling on the final version, and even contemplated on changing the title to Xenflexio once.
  • I made a page template in InDesign and created a document for each of the blog posts. Then, I added those documents to a book file in InDesign.
  • I picked photos from Unsplash that matched each “chapter”/entry in the book and placed them at the beginning of each “chapter”.
  • After creating the cover and the chapters, I tackled the Thank You, Table of Contents, and Introduction sections.
  • I uploaded the book to my iPhone and iPad for review of the content and the design.

Download Xenanimus for free.


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