A Partnership of Publishing Proportions

MCAnncmntHeader

By now, most of you have heard the exciting news we shared this week: As of May 5, 2014, we have transitioned the MagCloud business to our good friends at Blurb.

When we started MagCloud back in HP Labs we sought to democratize publishing, so anyone could create and distribute their own magazine. In the five years since, we have been honored to print hundreds of thousands of publications from wonderful publishing enthusiasts, photographers, artists and business owners all over the world. Now looking ahead, we feel it’s time for MagCloud users to get even more out of publishing and we believe that Blurb’s growing self-publishing ecosystem was the perfect next step.

What’s next?

For the time being, you’ll still be able to maintain creative control of your projects within MagCloud. All you have to do to use MagCloud as you would normally is accept Blurb’s terms and privacy policy when you login to your account. Your publications will look exactly the same, they will be printed as they always have, and the cost to create or buy new and existing products will not change.

Over the coming months, as we get settled into our new digs, the Blurb team will be providing more details on the transition. That means you’ll also want to opt-in to receive Blurb’s newsletter updates to receive the latest information on the transition, as well as stay up-to-date on all things Blurb.

In fact, it is Blurb’s features, like their broad line of book and magazine products and growing global distribution channels, that made them the obvious choice as we were looking to evolve what we started. In addition to robust authoring tools and a commitment to product quality, some of the many new benefits that you’ll find at Blurb include:

  • Precision design tools – like the recently released Blurb BookWright™ – to help you design your magazines with Blurb
  • Offset printing options for greater cost savings, as well as print-on-demand services
  • Unprecedented global reach across 80+ countries within Blurb’s platform
  • The Blurb Bookstore and third-party marketplaces

We hope that as our partnership evolves, you’ll find yourself as comfortable on Blurb’s pages as you are on ours. In the meantime, click here to learn more.

Publishing Poetry

Established by the Academy of American Poets, the United States celebrates National Poetry Month throughout the month of April. Ultimately, the purpose of the dedication is to draw individual and media attention to the art of poetry.

Image Courtesy of Parnassus Review
Image Courtesy of Parnassus Review

As artists, we know that poetry takes on many forms. While some keep free verse journals, others compile intricate sonnets and visual poems. Regardless of where on the spectrum your collection lies, though, there is a publication designed to make it shine. There is no time like to present to celebrate your own poetry, so read on for publishing pointers.

Maximize your medium.

Since the layout of a poem can be as important as the words themselves, the first step to publishing it determining the best place for your poetry to call home. Composing poetry on glass or wood and then uploading photos can completely change the perspective in your book.

Think outside the lines.

Tell a visual tale with your story by writing in different shapes. Graphic layouts are ideal for acrostics and outlining the silhouette of a character, or tracing the landscape of your setting, can significantly increase the visual appeal of text without imagery.

Face the font.
Create a language of your own by changing the fonts throughout your text. Don’t stop at style though, increase the size, change the color, and indicate significance with bolding, italics and CAPS. Each aspect of your font can add emphasis to your words and your tone.

Image Courtesy of Great Lakes Writers Festival
Image Courtesy of Great Lakes Writers Festival

Structure your space.

Like with lines, spacing can increase the drama on a page without any images. You can control the chaos with specific kerning or create a world of context by increasing the length of your lines. Sometimes the white space between the words introduces a meaning more powerful than the poem.

Don’t stop with words.

Each picture you include brings 1,000 words of its own, complimenting the existing artwork with even more context. Ebooks can deliver a digital space where the possibilities are endless; complete your composition with videos and sound recordings for a visceral experience.

Have any tips of your own? Share them below!

Recommended Reading:

Passion: Poetry – Inaugural Edition

Anthology of Mad Dog Poetry

The Inquisition of Poetry: Volume 1

MagCloud Pet Love

MagCloud Team PetsHere at MagCloud, we love pets, so it’s no surprise that some of our team members have published “Puppy’s First Year” photo books, created wall calendars or even made custom placemats for their furry friends.

Whether you have a goldfish, a Peterbald cat, a purebred Great Dane or a rescued mutt, there’s bound to be a product that will help you pay tribute to your furry (and sometimes fur-less) companions.

petphotobook

Create a Photobook

Using cool action shots, fun Instagram photos or ‘selfies’ of you and your pet, you can create beautiful square photobooks to commemorate your pet’s first year, or as a gift for your favorite animal-lover.

Blank templates to get you started with MagCloud’s square product are available in the Getting Started section of the site. Or if you want a little more help with design, you can use our partner Poyomi. Poyomi is a web service that lets you take your desktop or online photos and easily lay them out as a calendar or photo book of many sizes and have them printed and shipped on-demand via MagCloud.

MagCloud_flyer_paws_stackMagCloud’s Flyer Product to Promote your Pet Cause

If you’re involved with a pet service, cause, or adoption agency, MagCloud’s glossy flyer product is perfect for pet adoption flyers or event promotions. We personally love a good ‘yappy hour,’ or ASPCA fundraiser. You can spread the word for your cause or event for as little as $0.24 a copy when you order 20 or more digest-sized flyers.

Posters Turned into Personalized Placemats

montyplacematMonty, MagCloud’s unofficial mascot and Canine Consultant even has his very own personalized placemat for a water bowl in his office. Using the poster product in a landscape format we created a custom graphic that looks like a sketch of a place setting on chalkboard. While the poster isn’t 100% waterproof, it does hold up well, and at $2 for a new one, it can be changed out seasonally, or swapped for holiday and sports-themed versions.

You can download this image to create your own–just place it in any MagCloud 18 x 12″ poster template in your favorite software and add your pet’s name in white text.

Enjoy Pet Photos Year-Round with a Custom Calendar

SATO Fundraiser CalendarCalendars aren’t only for a new year, you can still create a custom photo calendar to enjoy through the end of 2014. We’ve modified our 2013 calendar templates to go from July 2013 to December 2014 in our Standard (8.25″ x 10.75″) and Small Square (8″ x 8″) formats for InDesign CS4 and newer, and Apple Pages. Just download the template for the size of calendar you want to create in your software of choice, add your photos and use the included instructions to export a PDF for uploading to the MagCloud website.

InDesign CS4 and newer: Standard template  |  Small Square template

Apple Pages: Standard template  |  Small Square template

If creating your own calendar file in InDesign or Pages isn’t for you, then this could also be a great time to check out our partner Poyomi. In addition to photo books, Poyomi lets you create a calendar just by uploading your photos from your computer, SmugMug, Picasa, or Facebook, and then you can have it uploaded automatically to your MagCloud account.

Discover and Enjoy other Pet-Centric Publications

If that’s not enough pet-mania for you, Monty has picked out some of his favorite publications available in the Pets Category of the MagCloud Shop.


Pup Culture May / June 2013Pup Culture

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

Spot MagazineSpot Magazine

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

Animals VoiceAnimals Voice

Features articles about the history and plight of pit bulls. Also: Wild Horses, Factory Farming, Whales and Dolphins, Endangered Wildlife, Horse Slaughter, and other news and information regarding the rights of animals


Pony PalsPony Pals

July’s issue is full of great pony stories, summer tales, art, horse themed crafting projects, and a great tale about Equitarian Initiative in Haiti.


Shelter Pet MagazineShelter Pet Magazine

Everything Pet in the Northwest–We cover pet health, welfare, events, and just about everything else for our readers in the upper-left-hand-corner of the map.

InstagramAnimal lovers: be sure to stay tuned for a MagCloud Instagram pet contest coming your way soon!

Summer Wanderlust

summertimewanderlustWhether you’re planning a big family vacation, or a small weekend staycation during the summer break, wanderlust seems to be an epidemic during warm summer months. In the Travel and Vacation Category of the MagCloud storefront, you can find all sorts of great publications to help inspire your travel whims, help you plan your trip, or inspire you to document your family adventure when you come home. And if you don’t get to travel anywhere this summer, you can always enjoy a good read on your lunch break and take a mental vacation.

So in honor of our own summer wanderlust, today we’re featuring some of our favorite travel-inspired publications on MagCloud.


LittleIndianalittle Indiana Quarterly Magazine

little Indiana: Where to Stay, Play, and Eat in Small Indiana Towns (population 15,000 and less). Just like littleIndiana.com, the magazine takes things to a whole new level! Find information about Indiana’s restaurants with outdoor seating, mom and pop ice cream shops, a young couple that renovated a building and restored a downtown, memories of summer from a town that no longer exists, a business on the brink of closure, and plenty more! Don’t miss regular features like “From the Hoosier bookshelf” and the Indiana trivia crossword puzzle.


toandfromTo & From: The Paris Issue

To & From Magazine merges travel and lifestyle.
The newest issue features Paris, “the City of lights.”


Tourism TattlerTourism Tattler: Kenya

The July edition of Africa’s premier Travel Trade Journal features Kenya, plus articles on Business, Conservation, Events, Hospitality, Legal and Marketing issues.


BVI NewbieBVI Newbie

A quirky and colourful guide to the BVI for residents and visitors. This books uses tongue-in-cheek commentary and bubbly design elements which keep the reader entertained and at ease when the time comes to move to Nature’s Little Secrets. This handy guide book also provides step by step instruction for several unfamilliar practices and/or procedures visitors often face while in the Virgin Islands.


Don’t just read about others’ adventures, publish your own.

Rather than let those sunny summer memories fade with your suntan at the end of the summer, start planning now to chronicle your summer adventures and photos into a cool summer recap magazine, or travel photo book printed through MagCloud. You can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Save and scan ticket stubs, itineraries and after your trip, compile all of your pictures and memories into a Square photo book or scrapbook using Apple Aperture  or Photoshop to share with your friends and family! If you’re not a big designer or super savvy with software–not to worry–you can try out our partner Poyomi’s on-line tool for photo book design.

Need some inspiration? Check out some of these great examples published on MagCloud:


DisneylandDisney Vacation 2013

To & From Magazine merges travel and lifestyle.
The newest issue features Paris, “the City of lights.”


 Hawaii Trip 2012Hawaii Trip 2012

A 8″ x 8″ book of photos from the Splonskowski family 2012 trip to Hawaii

DIY Wedding Ideas using MagCloud

Maybe its a side effect of Pinterest, and all of the beautiful weddings we keep seeing pop up, but with June being one of the busiest months of wedding season, we couldn’t help but get into the spirit and explore some DIY wedding ideas using MagCloud products.

invites

Custom Party Invites

It all started last month when I created some fun custom bachelorette invitations for a getaway weekend for my friend who is a bride-to-be. Using MagCloud’s digest pamphlet product I designed a fun little invitation that fit into the top 5.25″ of the template. When the prints arrived (each cost just $0.64) I took a quick snip with my scissors and popped them into coordinating 5.75″ x 5.75″ square envelopes that I found at Paper Source.

Then the idea of creating custom stationary using our digest product got me thinking:

How else could you use MagCloud products for wedding DIYs?

programs

Wedding Programs

Whether you have 12 bridesmaids or 2, having a nice wedding program helps keep guests informed of the order of the ceremony, and who you’ve cast in the important roles for you big day. The four-page digest pamphlet–or if you have a lot going on and want to include songs, readings and hymns–a digest-sized 8-page booklet are classically styled and beautiful printed. We also tried using the square pamphlet for a more modern feel. Depending on the form factor you choose, and the quantity you need, a 4-page digest or square pamphlet could cost somewhere between $0.48 and $0.80 a piece, perfect for the bride on a budget.

Like our modern design? You can download the template for Adobe InDesign below:

Wedding Menus

menus

Using our flyer product to create a sleek menu was really simple too. By dividing the page lengthwise (basically creating a 0.5″ gutter right down the middle of the page) we were able to print two menus per flyer and simply cut them in half with a paper cutter when they arrive.

Because our flyers cost just $0.40 print (or buy at least 20 and the price drops to $0.30/print), printing two per page makes them$0.15-0.20 per menu. That means you could print 200 menus for just $30.00 + shipping.

*Note: Flyer publication orders are subject to an 8 quantity minimum in multiples of 4.

Wedding Poster

posterscompared

The wedding poster seems to have surpassed traditional guestbooks in recent years as the popular way to commemorate one’s wedding day. Rather than being stuffed into a box and never looked at again, the wedding poster allows newly-wed couples to enjoy the love notes and encouragement given to them by family and friends for years to come.

MagCloud’s 12″ x 18″ poster costs just $2, leaving you plenty to spare for a fancy frame. We recommend having your loved ones sign a mat (like this one available from Amazon) rather than directly onto the poster (UV coating which protects the poster, also makes some inks smudge). But if you really want to let folks sign right onto your print, we found that you can do so with Sharpie Metallic Fine Point Permanent Markers.

Get started creating your own! For more design guidelines for our poster product, visit our Getting Started page.

Banners and Pennants

With the “Rustic Chic” style of weddings still ever-popular– pennant or flag signs have become a wedding or shower must-have. We’ve seen every variation from “she said yes” to the classic “Bride” and “Groom” signs on the backs of chairs, and found that the MagCloud standard pamphlet is a great tool for creating your own. With two letters per pamphlet we were able to create this sign for just $6.40. Using fishing line, twine or a narrow strip of ribbon and a glue stick, we simply cut out the pennants, lined the ribbon up in the fold of the paper, and glued the two sides together around it. The 100# cover stock used in our pamphlet product helped the banner hold up in a nice afternoon breeze.

banner

pennant-guideTo create your own banner, each pair of letters will need to be designed as it’s own 4-page pamphlet. We used the standard size, 8.25 x 10.75 publication so that we could get 4″ x 8″ pennants. In order to be sure the pennants look great from all sides, we set the full inside “spread” of the document to be a matching color to the outsides (this hides trimming/gluing errors) and to add a little bit of fun, we added a pattern, like stripes or polka dots, to the back sides for when the banner is blowing in a breeze. For the space between words, we used a heart symbol, so the banner would read “FROM❤MS.❤TO❤MRS.” or “SHE♥SAID♥YES.”

Try it and Save

Interested in creating your own event DIY with MagCloud?
Use promo code MCDIY when you publish and save 15%. Valid through June 30, 2013

More Wedding Reading on MagCloud

Now that you’re in the wedding mood, check out some of our favorite publications in the Brides & Weddings Section of the MagCloud Shop.

SmittenSD Wedding StyleDIY Weddings

Disrupting From Within: Lessons in Business Innovation

recipe-for-disruptionAs Chief MagClouder I know first hand that starting a new business inside an existing, well-established, large and profitable company can be just as challenging as launching an enterprise all on your own. Especially if your idea is a disruptive one – and one that requires time to grow before it adds a noticeable boost to your company’s overall bottom line.

In Innovator’s Dilemma, author and leading business thinker Clayton Christensen is spot on with his observation: Traditional companies are wary of pursuing new products and services that will initially have smaller target markets with unproven business models.

Why invest in something new that will result in a smaller return (at least initially) when you can continue cultivating larger and much better-understood markets based on your existing business proposition?

The answers vary, but the one that strikes a chord with us is simply this: If you don’t disrupt your own business, someone else will.

We’ve learned some useful lessons about launching a disruptive business inside a large company – in our case, creating MagCloud within Hewlett-Packard (HP).

You might find these lessons useful, too.

1. Bottom-up ideas can be just as successful as those directed from the top down.

The idea for MagCloud didn’t come from HP’s executive offices or reports from famous industry consultants. Instead, a couple of researchers in HP Labs thought it would be cool to create a way for anyone to become a publisher.

We took that idea and ran with it. It was bottom-up driven and an approach supported by our cross-company sponsors. It’s a model that suits both HP and MagCloud well.

That bottom-up philosophy suits many companies well. Google, for example, encourages employees to spend about 20 percent of their time “on projects that aren’t necessarily in [their] job descriptions.” This dabbling in other endeavors has resulted in some of Google’s most important products, including Gmail and Google News.

Facebook Hackathons – all-night, code-writing “ragers” – are a big tradition at Facebook, inspiring employees to collaborate on some great (and some not-so-great) ideas.

2. Flexibility is your friend.

Starting a business is no time to be set in your ways. From the moment you come up with your initial idea to the day you launch, you must be flexible enough to tack and weave your way forward, evolving your idea as you go.

When we began working on MagCloud, we thought that, along with providing print-on-demand based publishing, we should offer a tool that publishers could use to put together their publications – you know, type your text here, add your pictures there. And, voilà, you get a great-looking publication.

Then we remembered that authoring tools already exist in applications such as Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign and Apple Pages.

Why make customers use our tool when they’re already working with existing, proven programs? It seems obvious now, but at the time it was a big “aha” moment for us.

We might revisit creating authoring tools at some point as we tack and weave our way forward.

3. Small teams can outperform big ones.

If you’ve ever worked within a large group, you know the perils of spending far too much time communicating just to stay in sync, and adhering to the many processes designed to keep a large group coordinated – both of which can hinder creativity.

There’s a great story about a high-profile Silicon Valley software CEO who, upon hearing from a manager that a project was late, asked that one person be cut from the team. When the project continued to be delayed, he asked that another person be cut from the team. And so it went, until the project was successfully delivered.

The moral: The smaller the team, the more flexible you can be – and the easier it can be to keep working toward a common goal. At fewer than 20 staff members, we know this lesson all too well at MagCloud. We take turns at doing everything and finishing our projects on time. Mostly.

4. Small teams can make big impressions.

Whether you’re one person working from a spare bedroom or part of a 100-person, full-fledged marketing department, producing beautiful, professional-quality publications with MagCloud will give the impression that your business is bigger than it really is.

And, in fact, as long as you produce quality products that people enjoy, even the smallest team can attract millions of fans and followers.

Consider Pinterest, founded in March 2010 with a handful of employees. The company employs 100 today, just three years later. But what’s really impressive is Pinterest’s 40 million faithful fans who spend hours pinning their favorite things to their own virtual bulletin boards, so they can organize them and share them with friends. Pinterest is now the largest social media platform as measured by users per employee.

Instagram’s team was even smaller. Just 13 employees built the business, which now has 30 million users who pause in mid-step to capture just the right photo, add their favorite filter and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare.

It’s difficult to argue that small groups can’t deliver big results. Instagram’s tiny team caught the $1 billion attention of Facebook, its new owner.

5. Look ahead, but not too far.

Most large companies have very strict planning cycles, forecasting three or more years out and detailing every step of the way.

At MagCloud, we don’t pretend to know what the world will look like in three years. We don’t pretend to know what MagCloud will look like in three years.

Instead, we focus on a month ahead.

We decide what we’re going to invest in for the next month based on what we learned from our previous month through our customer support, website analytics, blog comments and social media interactions.

In a large stable business with mature markets even the slightest changes can have significant impact and high risk. This often results in long decision-making timelines that require deeper data analysis and more people involved in choosing the course of action.

At MagCloud, all of us – all fewer than 20 of us – are empowered by HP to make all the decisions that affect our business, hundreds of times, every day.  Even if we make decisions that aren’t quite right, we make them and move on.

We’re willing to take the risk because what we know – and what you know, too – is that if we don’t quickly iterate to meet our customers’ needs, someone else will.

Which brings me back to my beginning point:

6. Disrupt, lest ye be disrupted.

Disruption. It’s what makes new businesses successful and old, stuck-in-their-ways businesses fall to the wayside.

One great example of this lesson was when Netflix disrupted movie rental stores with DVD rental subscriptions. Remember how much you anticipated receiving those red envelopes in your mailbox? Then Netflix was smart enough to disrupt its own DVD rental subscriptions with even easier access to streaming video at a fraction of the price.

I wonder what they’ll do next.

In much the same way Netflix disrupted Netflix, MagCloud doesn’t want to be disrupted by someone else. We want to be our own disruptor, and we work hard at giving our customers what they want, even if it means we need to continually reinvent ourselves to do it.

New possibilities for meaningful impact

Discipline and focus are crucial with a small team.  There is never a shortage of new ideas but choosing the ones that will have the greatest impact to building our reach and growing our business are the keys to success.

We’re in control, we make the decisions and we live with the consequences. It’s exciting and exhilarating, and it’s one of the reasons why I love doing what we do as a small-medium business.

I suspect it’s why you love what you do, too.  I would love to hear what lessons you learned starting your own business or innovating as part of a small business or team in the comments section below.

Q&A with Holli True of Holli True Photography

Q-and-A-Series-header-HolliTrue2The words Young & Free come to mind when you mention the name Holli True, and it’s not just because that’s her business’ tagline. The Oregon-based high school senior portrait photographer manages to keep a free spirit and a young attitude finding inspiration in the teen-world around her. In 2010 the savvy businesswoman decided to specialize her business from general photography to a very specific market: high school senior girls. While it may seem like a small niche, Holli has made a name for herself in the region amongst high school girls and in the photography community worldwide. Over the past two years, she’s begun hosting workshops across the US and has spoken at a number of photography conferences and events. Now she’s furthering her reach with a new magazine, set to launch in May of this year.

How did you get started publishing?

FieldNotes

Holli True When I was planning my first workshop, I decided to create books for each of my attendees. I didn’t want them to have to scribble notes, so I provided each of them with all of the workshop content in a book. Following the first workshop, I received a dozen emails from other photographers that had heard about my workshop book. While they weren’t able to attend my workshop, they wanted to buy my book. I decided to revamp the workshop book and offer it to the public for purchase, calling it Field Notes: Workshop in a Book. Since then, I have also released Body Language: The Pose Book.

What exactly are your Young & Free publications?

HT Traditional studios offer proof books with printed images in a leather album, but I am not a traditional photographer. The Young & Free Look Book is my version of a proof book, in magazine format. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with my clients and got everyone buzzing about my business. While albums tend to be more of an heirloom product, our Young & Free look books are intended to be toted around and shared with their friends.

Q&A-Products

How did Young & Free come about? What inspired you?

HT In 2012, while planning for my senior photography season (which peaks in late summer and fall), I looked at my assortment of products and decided to simplify. I stripped down my products, which used to consist of photo boxes, signature books, mounted prints, gallery prints and more. Having too many options for clients can be overwhelming, so I decided I wanted to focus on a small handful of items–keeping my brand in mind–I ended up with Albums & Metal Gallery Prints. I quickly realized that I was missing one thing: a key product that my clients would love, that would do constant advertising for me. My solution: a Look Book.

I absolutely love looking at designer look books, they are different from magazines, as they are filled with just pictures. I adopted the same format and dedicate the entire look book to my clients, filling all of the pages with their beautiful pictures. It is a unique product that other photographers in my area aren’t offering, which allows us to stand out, while remaining true to our brand.

Tell us about your newest publishing adventure.

HT Earlier this year I joined forces with Heather Dunnigan, of TheaCreative, to create a new magazine publication for photographers called Denim+Grace. As a workshop instructor and business mentor, I am very passionate about teaching and sharing. I was craving a creative outlet and new platform to connect with other photographers in the industry and create something beautiful–a magazine was the natural choice. We are so excited about our premiere issue launching on May 1st, 2013!

BodyLanguage

Why did you choose MagCloud?

HT I have been a dedicated MagCloud user for over a year now. I turn to MagCloud for all of my printing needs in terms of magazines & books, it was a no-brainer for us when it came to Denim+Grace. We absolutely love the print quality, quick turnaround time and impeccable customer service that MagCloud offers. Thank you so much for creating a product that makes our hard work look gorgeous!

How has MagCloud made a difference in your business?

HT I think the biggest difference I have seen in my business because of MagCloud is with my look books. Our Young & Free look books sell themselves, we always have them on hand when we are out and about, which has been a huge marketing piece for us this year.

What software do you use to design your publication? Do you have any special tricks to make it easier or well designed?

HT I am a Photoshop girl, so it’s my go-to for design. Due to the number of look books I had to create, I wanted to make it as simple as possible to get them designed, so I made an assortment of templates that I can mix and match easily. Due to the popularity of the look books, I recently wrote a blog post about how I created them and now offer templates for purchase to anyone looking to create similar publications.

What tips do you have for someone new to self-publishing?

HT Do it! MagCloud makes the entire process a breeze, just commit and go for it! Oh, and before you order a large number of copies, make sure to do a test run, just in case! When you start designing, it’s easy to forget to leave enough cushion on some pages, a simple test can give you peace of mind!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one book would you want with you?

HT Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer. I am obsessed with the Twilight Saga- Eclipse was my absolute favorite! I could read it and reread it time and time again. I’m not even ashamed to admit it! ;)