how to print your own book for $10 || using lulu and canva

Monday, December 12, 2016


Have you ever wanted a copy of your own book just for your own? To hold in your hands? (and maybe throw against the wall sometimes. shhhh) well, here you go. You can have your dream for only $10 - no joke.

well guys - here I am to bring you an in depth tutorial on how to publish your book with lulu. (including how to make cover with Canva, and actually being able to use it). I discovered that it wouldn't allow Canva images - but, well, I figured a way out of that. Want to see?

I spent 12 hours figuring this out for Julia's book so yeah, this may be long. but I'm here to save you time and headaches k? don't be daunted by my 12 hours on this - I made this test one WHILE doing this post and it literally took no time. I wish I had had this post for myself! well, here we go!

UPDATE: see the results here!



// STEP 1. first thing off is to choose the size of your book - then go ahead and download the word document sizing they give you and go format your book. It may sound daunting - but if you use the lulu formatting they give you it rly isn't that hard. Or, if you dare like I did, go free and format it yourself. (I won't be going too in depth with this bc it rly wasn't hard to figure out - comment below if you are having some issues and I'll see what I can do to help though!) oh, and in my case I chose the Premium Paperback 6x9



// STEP 2. now that you've formatted your book go ahead and write how many pages you have in the area selected on the lulu website. (I have 260 in this example). Choose if you want cream, or white paper. Select 'Make this book'


// STEP 3. go ahead and title your book and add your name. (feel free to use a pen name, or middle name).



// STEP 4. make sure to select this handy dandy little thing, k? This means ONLY YOU will have access to your book.


// STEP 5. go ahead and uploaded your formatted document. I uploaded mine as a Word Document btw.


// STEP 6. k it's uploaded? good. Now click 'Make Print-Ready File' go ahead and wait for that to load.


// STEP 7. pretty self explanatory. download, save and continue. From there, go to the 'advanced one piece cover wizard' 


// STEP 8. pay careful attention here. the dimensions here will not be the same as yours okay. DO NOT USE MINE. Use what is on your screen. Super important. Your dimensions will be where I highlighted it. okay? Use those. 

// STEP 9. we've done everything we can on the lulu website for now. SO, we are onto the cover. head on over to Canva  I promise. You won't be disappointed. Just, dont lose your head, k? Stay focused. Get over there and select 'use custom dimensions' in the right hand corner. Enter your info. (Mine is 3851x2775)


 // STEP 10. upload your image and design your cover (remember, if you are using a pinterest image as I am IT CANNOT BE USED FOR SELLING - only personal use, k? Keep in mind that a pinterest image could come out blurry - it's a chance to take.) If you are going to have a spine with font on it, you are going to have to get the measurements by subtracting where the spine begins from your total width with those same dimensions. when you are designing your cover be sure to leave space around the whole perimeter bc they cut stuff off. (btw i barely played with this cover - just did the basics for you all). 


// STEP 11. Okay so save this as ' PDF - print' 'kay? then download your image. Saving this as a PDF blows it up SUPER LARGE meaning, you can't just open it up and load it onto lulu like this. So I had to find another way. 


// STEP 12. To do this you are going to have to download a photo editing website called Gimp (you can do this temporarily and take it off your computer after). Don't worry, it's safe and free. You can go here to download it. It should take no time to download it. ^^ download it directly. 


// STEP 13. open up Gimp and upload your cover. See what I circled up there? Okay, put in your covers size. (mine is 3851x2775) THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT OKAY. so change that and select 'Import.' Don't worry if it changes your dimensions slightly like mine is now (3851x2774). 


// STEP 14. okay very important here. See that up there? it says 'Flatten Image' Select that. 


// STEP 15. okay now you have to export it. Select that and a window will pop up. 


// STEP 16.  Scroll until you find what I have highlighted above. It needs to be saved as a JPEG image, k? now, wait. don't select Export yet.


// STEP 17. this is major right here k. It WILL NOT WORK if you don't do this. see how it says 'examplebook title.pdf' up there? Okay, well what it needs to say is, 'examplebook title.jpeg' to get that, you just type it in yourself. okay? (aka take out the pdf and add jpeg to the end) Do this. Now you can click the export button down there and save it.


// STEP 18. Go onto the lulu website where you left it and upload your cover. It should work perfectly. (I've been doing this as I go along and it works for me.) Select save and continue.


// STEP 19. go ahead and download then save it. 


// STEP 20. EEEPPP. LOOK YOU'VE GOTTEN THIS FAR. okay now. *clear throat* Select 'save and finish' okay so it says your book is now published 'order a proof copy' it may look like anyone could buy it. DON'T FREAK. it's just for you only. Don't worry. 

well, what are you waiting for? GO ORDER YOUR BOOK. also, don't forget about coupon codes. I got a special deal and was able to get a free book so Julia got the two copies like she wanted. I think it's a one time deal thing bc I had an unfinished book in my account. Go ahead and google "lulu coupon codes" and try a bunch to see if they work. I got two copies of Julia's book for $11 including shipping. Shipping is around $4 for one book and it was $5 bc we bought two. 


I spent hours trying to figure this out and I googled tutorials but found barely any. I love Canva so I'm glad I was able to figure out how to use it for my cover. I hope this helps someone out there!

p.s. I just wanted to say thanks to my amazing writing group for helping me out with this. Dealing with my constant groans as stuff wouldn't work, and, a special thx to Chloe for suggesting to "flatten" the image again.

p.p.s. I ordered the books yesterday - when I get them we'll definitely be showing you all the results. :D

would you try printing out your book?
if so, would you use my tutorial?


62 comments

  1. OOH THIS IS AWESOME!!! Thank you for slaving away those 12 grueling hours to provide us with this lovely tutorial! :D XD :P

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    1. THANKS, GRACE! oh, totally. It will be great for myself as well to reference when I forget later lol.

      YOU MUST LET ME KNOW IF YOU EVER PUBLISH YOUR BOOK K XD

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    2. You're welcome, Sare! :D Heehee!

      I WILL!!!!

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  2. still can't believe you did this............ lol

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  3. OKAY WELL THEN. *breathes heavily* this is one gargantuan post and I shall come back to this when I am ready to print my book

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    1. *nodnod* yeaahh. it's one of those posts that's a legit step-by-step tutorial. DON'T BE DAUNTED BY IT'S GARGANTUAN SIZE K. I decided to legit go in detail so I wouldn't leave you hanging. let me know if you have any problems tho when you do it xP XD

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    2. WHAT IF YOU DO NOT HAVE MICROSOFT WORD THOUGH

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    3. THEN GOOGLE DOCS WORKS TOO. or pdf. (however you do that)

      also. *curious* ARE YOU PRINTING OUT YOUR BOOK RN?? *cough cough*

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    4. OKAY YES I WENT TO PDF AND IT SEEMS TO BE WORKING PERHAPS XD (someone is helping me lol)

      well yes I'm trying to lol- not Library of Lies though. my first one. :D

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    5. 'KAY THAT SHOULD WORK - let me know if it doesn't. (someone else is helping you *ouch but not rly* lol) hope it works out for you! believe me, I know the pain it can cause so I hope this thing helps xP lemme know if you have any problems tho

      duuddeee. that is such coolness. also. look at the coupon codes xD

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    6. YES OKAY IT DID. (lol it's Hannah Rodriguez- I just emailed her the pdf and POOF five minutes later she had it all formatted #techgoals xD) alright will do :D

      yess ikr I'm pretty pumped! okay where do I find coupon codes though

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    7. oohh dude she has super powers XD

      okay actually I have a couple..here

      free shipping: SHIPFEB17 - this one expire tomorrow k
      30% off your first order: LULU30
      50% off your 1st book: NEW50
      25% off all lulu print books: NICE25

      give all of these a try - I believe they let you use more than one option. so find the ones that save the most money lol. I combined mine xD (also, some of these might not work but I know for sure the free shipping..remember, it does expire tomorrow tho. xP)

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    8. ikr XD

      OOH NICE. thanks that's awesome :D

      okay but also- for the spine. how (on Canva) can I see where the spine starts? like, I know where it starts dimension-wise (1838 pixels from the left), but I can't see that on Canva.

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    9. okay so the spine. Basically what I did for assurance was take a black square overlay and dragged it so it was the correct size (1839 px wide in your case). you'll see that as you drag it, it's in small print in the right upperhand corner I believe. Basically that gives you where it starts from the left.
      Then, you grab another block and make it the legit width of the spine (which is said on lulu website)

      sorry if that didn't make sense...I can't add screenshots on here :P

      tbh tho, it's basically just dead center (which they show on canva) I wouldn't worry about it too much - for my book I didn't even do that, I just put it in the center and whala - it turned out fine. :D

      Just be sure to have extra space all around your cover - lulu likes to chop stuff off lol

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    10. https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-2VVRUy89XyA/WJ_XcKSnkHI/AAAAAAAAIwA/_fmv7xRb-14qajkO7lW1TMuniOQ9h2QbwCLcB/s1600/example.png

      ^^ okay so that should give you an idea of what I meant. Basically, I "copied" the image and put the block layers on the layer under it so I could gauge it. Hope this helps!

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    11. YES. I'M DONE. EEK. THANK YOU. XD https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-6ydZfPiRQww/WKIfX0Uuw8I/AAAAAAAAFiI/NRrLSoL9YNgtFFIzyPQUuTzSyQOTD6dbwCLcB/s640/THE%2BRAVEN%2BPROJECT.png
      (^^ cover if you can see it) When I uploaded the cover onto Lulu the colors went a looot darker for some reason? It might not do that physically though haha. :D

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    12. awesome!!

      duuddee. it looks epic!! did you order it??

      oh wait. eehh. okay it went darker bc something went wrong during it. did you follow my tutorial exactly?? you did do the Gimp part, right? If it looks dark in the preview (overly contrasted) then it will look like that in person :/ basically, that was my problem for the whole thing and why I made the tutorial. :P

      so yes, if you haven't ordered yet you can fix that. Just follow my tutorial step by step bc I don't know why, but it works lol. also, the free shipping thing is going on longer - I got an email update today (it's the same code as before jsyk) :D

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    13. haha yes I got it ordered. :D

      oh. hm. *cough* I did follow most of it but I skipped the Gimp part lol. #oops xD I didn't mind though- it doesn't look bad darker, I was just curious. if it is pretty bad irl then I'll just order a new one haha. (I have two income sources now + I might be taking on another job and idek what to do with money lol)

      thanks for the help though! :D and yes the coupons worked haha

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    14. ohhh okay well - I hope it doesn't turn out too contrasted then. I had a friend who did the same thing and she didn't mind it - I guess different sort of covers just work then. :D

      dudddee. don't skip steps k. lol xD well, anyways, I hope it turns out and doesn't take as long as it took for mine to get here lol. you're totally welcome - glad the codes worked :D

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  4. Lulu was how I selfpi listed my first book, and I'll probably end up using it for my next two books as well. I like how they do it. :)

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    1. oh, how cool!! Same - I can't wait to see the finished product :D

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  5. This is so timely. THANK YOU. I've been wondering how on earth I'm going to get a print copy of my book (when it's finished...) for a long time. Thank you!
    *bookmarks*

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    1. aww, great!! let me know if you do it - or have any problems, Brianna! :D

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  6. Can't wait to see how your printed books come out!! SO EXCITING! <3
    Canva is such a great book-covering website! That's what I use for mine.
    Glad you got it figured out! :D Thank you so much for tutorial -- it would have taken me a century to do this on my own. <3

    Sophie

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    1. IKR EEP. *cant wait* XD
      oh, i knowwww. it's SO amazing. like, ALLLL THE FONTSSS.
      aw, of course! I'm so glad it's helpful, Sophia! :D

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  7. k just a question but how do you find where the spine is?

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    1. It's pretty much dead center - if not a TAD to the left. but, if you want to be more precise what I did was did an overlay on top of my image with a square and faded it. using your dimensions of where the spine begins (mine is 1838) and made it the right thickness which mine is 176.

      it's sort of hard to explain but if you remind me about this I'll send ya some screenshots. :D

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    2. Ok I think I got it anyway, but thanks!

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  8. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOUR BOOK! YOU'RE AWESOME TO MAKE YOUR OWN BOOK! 😍

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    1. EEP THANKS, PAIGE! ikr - I'm so excited to see how Ju's book turned out. Hopefully I'll finish mine pretty soon so I can print mine out too XD

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  9. Eeep! *does a happy dance* Thanks so much for this tutorial! I'll definitely be referring to it sometime in the future. :)

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    1. *dances around with you* aww, great! let me know if you have any problems XD

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  10. I've always wanted to print my book, but never knew it would be this easy! I hope I can figure this out one day... This will help put a lot! Thanks for helping. =)

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    1. oh, yep. Once you get past the struggles I had it's really easy. I've had a friend use my tutorial and do it already and she said it was easy to understand - which I'm glad about bc I tried so many things lol XD of course! Hope it helps you :D

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  11. Thanks for this tutorial. Another blogger wrote a post about it. But I like how you went into deyail on making a cover. My, that looks hard. When I publish my book, I'll let you know if I need help with the cover,

    -Ashley

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    1. Hello. When you upload the book, is there one program that's better than another to use? Like microsoft word, works, etc....
      Also, what if my "chapter 1" is at the bottom of my book, and the newest chapter is at the top? So when I wrote, I added the new chapter right on top. Do you know of an easy way to switch it all around to bring the first chapter up to the top?

      Will it be printed the way it's uploaded?

      ~Ashley

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    2. Hey, Ashley! mmm - I just used Microsoft word and it worked fine for me. You can do PDF or google docs, too. Whatever works for you.

      ehhh. that really won't work. The best thing to do it cut and paste it into it's proper place bc yes, it does print the way it is uploaded. It will NOT fix that issue for you. It will be printed exactly as it shows in the document. Hope this helps!

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    3. Thank you so much for your help. I have been using Microsoft Works Word Processor. Hopefully that works okay too. :)
      Okay, I'll do that. Thanks a lot Sarah!

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    4. PS. I forgot to ask, do you think I could use a picture I took for the cover of the book, or will it not allow it?

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    5. yep using your own picture is the best way to go to be honest. Now you have your own rights - so if you do use pinterest images YOU CANNOT SELL YOUR BOOK WITH THAT IMAGE - you might get in trouble for it bc of rights and such :P so yes, your own image should work. good luck!

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    6. Oh, and one more question. :) Do you know if I can have pictures in the book?

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    7. well, I'm not 100% on this but I believe you can. You will have to select the color throughout the book option if you want colored pics - otherwise they will be black and white. whichever you prefer. Like I said, I'm not positive on this so you might wanna google it just to be sure :D

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    8. Hi again Sarah.
      I have some more questions. I hope you don't mind me asking for help. :)
      What color of pages do you think work best? Whit or cream? Also, what font did you use and what size font? I'm not sure which one to use...
      Also, from ordering your book till it arrived in your mailbox, how long did it take?
      And one more, how do you format your book, and is it a requisite step? (What does it mean to format it?)

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    9. well - color pages depend on the size. The 8.5 pg's only have cream paper - for the 9x6 you can have cream or white. I like both really XD I used font New Times Roman 11.

      Well - I wouldn't count on anything I say bc Julia's took 8 days and mine took like 15 so it obv varies. :P

      You can get a formatting download off the Lulu website. Just look it up on there. Formatting means basically to make it look like a book (aka the indenting, spacing, ect.)

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    10. Okay.
      Did you have to put page numbers iyour book, or did it do that automatically when you uploaded it?

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    11. OH, and did you have to make two covers, one for the back and one for the front? Or is it just one picture that wraps around?

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    12. you will have to add your own pages numbers. You can look up how to do that with whatever program you are using. :D So yes - whatever your finished document looks like is exactly what your book will look like.

      You can do both ways - this tutorial uses one that wraps around so - you'll have to choose. I've only done the wrap around kind so far tho :D

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    13. For the picture that wraps around, do you think it'll still look fine if I use a regular image and don't do anything to it at all? like change the pixels.

      Did you double space your book or would you recommend leaving it single spaced?

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    14. Yeah! I think it'd be fine - I haven't tried it before but it sounds fine to me. :D

      I actually don't know - sorry! I'd look it up. Or just do it on your document and decide what you like best :D

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    15. Thank you for all your help Sarah.

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  12. THANK YOU FOR THIS, I'LL NEED THIS xD. *can't wait to print my own book* Also, I'm SUPER excited for Ju's book to arrive so that I can see how it turned out *nodnod*.

    ~ Savannah
    scattered-scribblings.blogspot.com

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    1. OF COURSE GIRL!! *pushes you to print your own book* DO IT. ikr me too EEPP just a few more days *sits by mailbox* XD

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  13. This is awesome! I have been wanting to print a book for a long time, so now I have a tutorial to work off of! Thank you!
    -Mikayla-

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    1. YOU MUST DO IT - its like the coolest thing xD of course, Mikayla! Let me know if you have any problems with it :D

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  14. This is so cool!! I'll have to keep this in mind, if I ever choose to write a book. ;)

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    1. dude yes. WRITE A BOOK OKAY no pressure *ahem* XD

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  15. I'll be perfectly honest with you AHH YOU SAVED MY LIFE. =D THANK YOU. Bless you. I used this tutorial and will be ordering my very own novel soon. :D
    God bless!
    -Ang | thepeculiarmessenger.wordpress.com

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    1. AH I'M SO GLAD. seriously, Angela, you just made my day XD eeepp!! that's so exciting - I've love to see pics of your book once you get it cuz ohmygoodness - SO EXCITING *squeals*

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    2. OK SOOO I did it and they made it!! :D Thanks, girl, for this tutorial!
      https://thepeculiarmessenger.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/i-printed-my-novel-seek/

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    3. GAAHH IT LOOKS SO AMAZING, ANGELA!! *flails* thank you SO much for showing me. it feels amazing to know that people are actually using my tutorial and that it's actually working for them. it looks SO amazing, girl!! <33

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*waves* hey there! thanks so much for commenting - just please remember to keep it clean <33

hello there fellow human. i'm sarah - the introverted extrovert. just a teenage girl who apparently likes to embarrass herself {as you will see here}

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