book stories: the design

July 15, 2014

book stories design
Welcome to Anatomy of a Personal History Book. From our conversations to record your stories to the end result of you holding a beautiful custom book in your hands, how does it all happen? Let’s find out!

Being a Personal Historian allows me to use my academic research experience and analytic training (during the interview process and the story structure) alongside my passion for good design, and I love both!

The process for Book Design is unique for each client. However, my goal is always the same – to develop a design that reflects you, your experiences, your personality, yet is simple and clean enough to let your words take center stage.

Fonts are the most important element in book design, as your words are truly the star of the show. I use no more than three fonts throughout each book – one for the main text, one for titles and headers, and one to distinguish any highlighted pull-quotes. Readability is key, so the balance is to find fonts that are elegant and inspired and are also accessible to all readers. I recently printed a book with a larger font size to accommodate the aging storyteller’s failing eyesight – because the most beautiful book in the world is worth nothing if it can not be read and enjoyed!

At this stage in the process, I will ask clients to finish submitting any photographs and other memorabilia they wish to include. These include childhood photos, snapshots from travel adventures, wedding photos, as well as hand-written love letters, wedding invitations, military service orders, diplomas, awards and certificates of recognition. If a client asks, I am happy to scan any original photos and documents and ensure their safe return.

Often I will find design inspiration from a piece of memorabilia that you want to include in the book, like pulling colors from a couple’s wedding invitation for their Love Story book. Other times the inspiration comes from your story – for a Life Story of a successful investment banker, I drew inspiration from the fabric of his well-tailored charcoal gray pinstripe suits and the black and white photos of his office on Wall Street.

I sometimes add a custom design element to each book, always subtle, always unique. In one book, I created a small insignia of the couples’ initials to use at the end of each chapter. In another book, I used a watercolor pattern as a background for certain photographs as a nod to the storyteller’s art career.

The overall 11stories design aesthetic is clean and modern, never wanting a design element to overshadow your words, your stories. Once I have a plan for the style of the book, it’s on to the Layout, where everything comes together!

book stories story
Welcome to Anatomy of a Personal History Book. From our conversations to record your stories to the end result of you holding a beautiful custom book in your hands, how does it all happen? Let’s find out!

Soon after we finish our Interview Sessions, I will listen to the recordings and carefully transcribe your stories. Once I have a complete transcript, the story structure begins.

I organize your stories into chapters or themes – childhood, education, career, reflections, etc. This first step is a bit like gathering together the pieces of a puzzle. Just like you might put all the edge pieces in a pile and all the blue pieces in a pile, I find all the conversations about childhood and put them in a file, all the conversations about career and put them in a file. None of us tell stories in a perfectly linear fashion, and that’s okay – it’s my job to listen to your interview as a whole and to pull together the various pieces into an organized and coherent narrative.

Of course not all stories fit neatly into chapters, but that doesn’t mean we want to lose them. Those can often be real gems – the side conversations that reveal a fascinating fact about your aunt Helen, or a quick mention of your favorite toy as a child. Those go into a file of “pull-quotes” and I will integrate those treasures in to the book.

I will do a minimal amount of editing at this point as well. I may simply trim a few of the “ums” and errs,” without compromising your unique patterns of speech. Occasionally I will cut a few lines of the interview if they are irrelevant to the topic, like when we digressed about the weather, or if you have told me you are concerned about privacy issues, like when you let it slip that you felt Aunt Helen could lose a few pounds.

I use a professional writing software called Scrivener to organize your story. Scrivener is a powerful tool that allows me to create the chapters of your book, organize and edit, and coordinate your photos and other artwork that will be included in your book.

Story Structure is one of my favorite parts of the process – it’s when I get to see everything come together, and I get excited thinking about how wonderful your book is going to look!

Once I have created your Story, it’s on to the Design, so stay tuned!

book stories: the interview

June 10, 2014

Welcome to Anatomy of a Personal History Book – a new installment of Book Stories, where we explore the process of creating an 11stories Life Story or Love Story book. From our conversations to record your stories to the end result of you holding a beautiful custom book in your hands, how does it all […]

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11stories annual sale & celebration!

June 3, 2014

Each year, in honor of my father, the original storyteller in my life, 11stories gives a 20% discount on all packages booked during his birthday month of June.* So the 11stories Wedding Book, usually $500, is now just $400. And Life Stories, which normally start at $1000, now start at just $800. If you’ve been […]

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personal history awareness month: debunking the myths

May 30, 2014

This is the third in a three part series, in celebration of Personal History Awareness month. Throughout this month, I’ve talked about the importance of recording life stories before it’s too late, and how to start the process of recording those stories with your loved ones. Now, let’s get real – here are a few […]

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personal history awareness month: starting the conversation

May 23, 2014

This is the second in a three part series, in celebration of Personal History Awareness month. Last week I wrote about the importance of capturing stories before it’s too late. I encouraged everyone to start having conversations with loved ones. For some, a service like 11stories will be the perfect way to capture and record […]

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personal history awareness month: raising awareness

May 12, 2014

This is the first in a three part series, in celebration of Personal History Awareness month. Each time I talk with someone about my work, I inevitably hear some version of the same response, “oh, I wish I had known about 11stories last year, before we lost my mom. She had such a wonderful story…” […]

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featured: love/make

April 18, 2014

Please join 11stories on Sunday April 27 at love/make. Our friends at The Bold Italic have put together an extraordinary group of talented wedding professionals (including 11stories!), and it is sure to be a fabulous event. Come explore the best of what the Bay Area has to offer! I can’t wait to meet you all […]

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storytelling: lillia & jordan

April 2, 2014

Jordan: “I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I’m totally in love with you…” Lillia and Jordan’s interview was two hours of sheer fun! the two of them sat snuggled together on their couch on a rainy saturday afternoon, holding hands the whole time, sharing their whirlwind love story. they met in colorado […]

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storytelling: carol & maurice

February 14, 2014

11STORIES: if you could change anything about each other, what would you change? MAURICE: i’d make her 30 again! CAROL: (laughs) oh my god! carol and maurice are truly high school sweethearts. they met when she was 14, he was 15, at a local dance in their small town in upstate new york. maurice cut […]

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