Update: One comment was all it took to make me realise that my post was lacking in something fundamental. Damn you Heilemann! I’ve added a few bits and pieces since I published this a full hour ago.

When I first started Broken Kode it was originally meant to be the online account of my trials and tribulations to getting published. 1.8 years later I’m slightly closer to that goal, although I’ve not progressed the book in the same way I’ve progressed the graphic design and web site aspects of my life, I’m starting to get itchy fingers.

I printed out my draft script a little while ago. It currently clocks in at around 70 pages, but the book itself will probably clock in the region of 120 pages, or at least that’s what I’m aiming for.

My battle plan was to try and have a finished product when I’d start shopping it around to different publishers. Ideally it would be under a similar publishing model that Image Comics has. I control everything. That however does require you to have money up front to put up the publishing of the book.

Black and white publishing is 5 times cheaper than doing it all in colour. That’s a pretty harsh fact to get under grips with. If my submission wasn’t considered or whatever, my next plan of action was to self publish it.

A couple of months after I started blogging, CafePress decided to start it’s publish to demand option. I effectively was saved. Fair enough I’d have to sell everything via the net, and fair enough I’d have to do everything in black and white, at least I would have the book done and ready to go.

Nearly 2 years after I started this journey in earnest, Lulu decides to hit the scene. What is Lulu you ask? Well in simple terms it’s a new way to publishing. So what distinguishes Lulu from the CafePress model? As far as I can gather several very important aspects:
  1. The creator retains the full copyright. I haven’t followed up on it but a while back CafePress was getting some bad press due to their shady copyright documentation. Lulu is very clear on this point.
  2. The simplest formula for the cost of the book is as follows: Retail Price = Production cost + Royalty + Lulu Commission
  3. If you pay a little bit extra (depending on how much it gets put up) the book is eventually put onto the system that all distributors, online stores etc have access to and actually put into the market on offer

For me it’s that last one that really makes me stand up and take note. It gets provided for consumption by anyone, by everyone? You can effectively get it published and into book stores. You loose 20% of the commission but everything is set up for you. That’s elevates the game to a whole new level. It’s print on demand, but without limiting your audience to only those with access to a credit card and the net.

If I really wanted to publish my book in colour, that is also an option. An expensive option, but an option non the less.

So what’s the downside? Well effectively it’s all got to do with control. How much control am I willing to give away? Personally I’m curious about the actual quality of the final printed product. That’s what I care about ultimately. Which is why I’m planning on trying this out with something I actually have the time for doing right now.

I’m going to publish the first year of Broken Kode as a book to try and see what the quality and process of this actual system is. I’ll give an in depth report on my findings once I’ve got the finished product in my hand. Of course this isn’t going to be just the first year, this is going to be me going mental with the design, probably including doodles and commentary on posts I thought were of any significance or importance.

The object of this book isn’t to make money. The first and foremost reason for publishing it is to see what the quality of book I can expect from Lulu. Secondly and this is probably even a bigger reason is I’m a complete and utter book junky. As such I’m keen on keeping copies of things. I pour a lot of effort into Broken Kode, and I’d like to have something I might look back at in 20 years time or whatever and see what mattered to me back in the day. I’ve always said this is my diary, except it’s online. Now I can get a hardcopy of it as well.


  1. It’s funny you should mention this, as I have thought of doing the same. Not so much for the sake of selling it to people online (though if anyone wants a go, they can be my guests), but for my not-so-blog-knowledgable family.

    1 Michael Heilemann
  2. I’m doing it as a complete experiment. Don’t really think anyone will buy it, but it’s like an archive of sorts. Something of a keepsake as it where. Will we be blogging in 20 years time? Who knows, this provides us with a slice of our life. I’m surprised more people aren’t jumping onto something like this. I mean c’mon the bloody content is already done and waiting :). I like the family idea thing actually.

    2 Khaled
  3. I look forward to hearing what your experience is. Being a junkie for any manner of content creation the fun stuff that could be had putting a book together (fonts!, illustrations) that just aren’t as easy to do on the web would just be awesome to play with. Heh, pages that flip instead of scroll. Terribly cool.

    3 Chris
  4. Very interesting entry, I had been perusing LuLu’s services in the past few days, after having randomly found a blogger who had used it to print his book (it was advertised on his blog, that is). It looks indeed like a service that is worth keeping under the elbow, as we say here. As for control, I know the feeling, it’s something that matters to me a lot as well; if however this could be an appropriate venture in order to get self-published with at least a few guarantees, contrary to what happens when it’s all on our own… it’s perhaps a worthy sacrifice.

    4 Yzabel
  5. If you published your site in book format would you be tempted to:

    - Make use of additional fonts (not limited by those the web finds acceptable, which drove me to distraction when designing for the web).
    - Would you change the layout to make it more appropriate for the page?
    - What about comments.. Sometimes comments make an entry. Would you select certain ones for inclusion?
    - Would you edit your entries? Having written “books” and theses in the past there is nothing worse than looking back and finding a spelling, grammar or crap word choice.

    Just curious.

    5 David
  6. Fonts and design, I’m going to go a bit mental with. I’m no longer constrained by anything but my imagination, and whether or not it will look any good in black and white.

    I’m going to go for zip-a-tones because I really like how these print out, and I’ve got to find out if graytones is something that’s ok, or whether it will look muddy etc. Lots to go through before I send off everything that’s for sure. I’ve gotten 50% of the posts and related information in indesign right now, so once everything is in there I can start playing. Layout is going to chance considerably as you can imagine from the above comments.

    Comments are a tricky one. You are right sometimes they actually make a post, and I will say that the whole podz/other guy who wanted to write a wordpress manual spring to mind as like pretty hot comments sections that made me think about open souce and wordpress a lot more, so I would like to put that in there. Luckily the first year of BK was not very heavy on the comments. Currently I’m displaying the number of comments. When I get to the more interesting posts I’ll go for showing them as well probably, although thinking about this, I don’t actually have any rights to those comments, except mine….hmm now this does beg yet another post about copyright of comments, surprised no one has mentioned these ever. Probably because no one’s ever decided to include them in a book for publication?

    Not editing a single word from the stuff I’ve written. I think it’s a learning experience, so I want to see how my writing style developed over the course of the years, and how I went about talking about things etc.

    6 Khaled
  7. regarding including comments, that is tricky. are comments on the site mine or yours? As there isn’t any sort of published policy regarding the status of comments on the site there could be a legal issue. I’m speaking generally.

    If it’s any comfort, you can feel free to publish anything I say (why would you want to?) :)

    7 Chris
  8. I suspect you will be publishing your experience and an evaluation of the results, but I would like to chime in with the “I’d like to know what you think of the results” crowd nonetheless.

    lulu makes it sound like you can be completed in a matter of a few minutes. When might we expect to hear about your results?

    8 Douglas
  9. Hey Khaled,

    I have had a number of things printed through LuLu and all I can say is wow. The quality is amazing from the binding ( I have only purchased perfect bound) and the paper quality.

    The ISBN is a little… strange. There are two services, the cheaper one assigns an ISBN to your ‘book’ but does not handle distribution. This option also allows you to use color in the book.

    The more expensive option ISBN plus has the channel setup, but you cannot use any color whatsoever inside the book.

    If you would like I can post some pics of the three works I have here with some thoughts. You can then decide if you want to plunk some money down on a test.

    Let me know.

    9 Chris J. Davis
  10. Well I decided it was a good idea, so I went ahead and started a 3 part series on publishing through LuLu.

    Check my site for it, since I was seen as spam when I included a URL.

    10 Chris J. Davis
  11. Douglas -
    Currently I’m hoping to have all the text into indesign by the end of the weekend. I’ll probably take a week to really start hacking and designing and drawing. Add a couple of days for the cover (although I pretty much know it’s going to involve CoCo on the cover in some way, and then once I’ve got a pdf that’s about it.

    Chris -
    I’ll be posting stuff on your site as well to keep the cross fertilisation going :). It sounds strange about the colour option. Also the whole wraparound cover option really mistifies me completely. I’ll be looking to see what you can and can’t do from your experience.

    Honestly my first actually clue who they were was from you, but then I read the article on the bbc that told of how and why LuLu was created and well I’m game now. Right time to go onto your site and ask my specific questions.

    11 Khaled
  12. What a fantastic find. I’d use this myself only I’m not sure my content is worth all that much, even to family. :)

    I have some ideas for future projects that it could be useful for though. Look forward to reading more on your experiences with Lulu.

    12 Zenith