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  • Writer's pictureHarshal

AI Plus Paper: Wins and Challenges for an Illustrated Book

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

My Learnings in Self-Publishing a Storybook Gift Co-Created with AI

I wrote a story with ChatGPT. I illustrated it with Midjourney. After these challenges, I imagined the journey to a physical book would be straightforward. But I found out that there’s a vast world between a story and bringing a book to life between the covers. In this article, I share my learnings in self-publishing or printing, from the nuances of book metadata to the art and science of printing layouts.

AI co-created paperback storybook cover.
AI co-created paperback storybook cover.

Drafting Book Metadata With ChatGPT

I tried to self-publish my story as a book using Draft2design and BookBaby. I realized I need more than the story text when going through this self-publishing process. C (ChatGPT) and I collaborated to write the book's metadata.

  1. Title: We brainstormed title ideas that utilized rhyme, alliteration, or other literary devices.

  2. Summary: We created a teaser for the book to go on its back cover.

  3. Dedication: We also penned a dedication page to my wife to announce the gift.

  4. Copyright page: On the advice of my friend and book publishing expert, Liam, we crafted a copyright page, but kept it playful.

  5. Acknowledgements: I included this along with the dedication, including to the latest Gen AI tools used and the people who helped me.

Navigating Book Design And Print

We can get any book at our doorstep by pressing a few buttons, for a low cost, yet, never worry about misprints or broken bindings. But, my book printing experience showed me the nuanced world of book layout and printing. I was fascinated to learn about the science and process behind book publishing.

I was fortunate to receive assistance from friends - Liam Borgstrom and Gian Tapinassi - regarding book layout. I learnt using Draft2design and BookBaby websites from Gian. I changed the layout of images and text on my final document layout based on his review. I learnt about the different paper types and “gsm” from Liam over a video call where I saw 5 examples of books with different adhesives, sews, layouts, and paper thicknesses. I had a longer chat with Liam here. More on Gian’s work here.

I bypassed other software and used Microsoft Word to layout the book because the other online software were tailored for book publishing, whereas I only needed to do book printing.

I found 12 printing websites thanks to online searches and recommendations Liam and Gian.These websites offered book printing and binding services, so I reviewed them. I identified Digital Printing Ireland (Northside Graphics Ltd) as the one that matched my desired price point, format, and delivery timeframe.

Clocking The Hours In My Publishing Journey

Stacked bar chart shows total hours spent and distribution across steps.
Stacked bar chart shows total hours spent and distribution across steps.

I used rescuetime to analyze the time I spent on this project. I completed this project over the span of 18 days, excluding writing the blog. The storybook project took me 20hrs but creating a video and blog around it took me an additional 13 hours.

The amount of time it took me to write the blog suggests I should track this for every article I write as part of a deliberate practice to reduce the time I spend on creating content, as I wrote here.

The Toolbox For An Illustrated Storybook

Gen AI tools:

  1. ChatGPT GPT4

  2. Midjourney v5.2

Considered, but did not use:

  1. ControlNet from Stable Diffusion

  2. Local Stable Diffusion model - LoRA (Low-rank adaption)

  3. Photoshop

Used for write and edit stage:

Used for illustrations stage:


  2. Gandr

  3. Microsoft Photos

  4. Canva

  5. Google Image Search

Used for book layout & print stage:

Used for blog stage:

  1. Wix

  2. Google Docs Voice Typing

  3. Google Sheets

  4. Substack

  5. Fiverr

  6. Google Drawing

A Look At The Finished Product

Here is a preview of the storybook output.

Animated GIF of pages being turned in the illustrated paperback storybook.
Animated GIF of pages being turned in the illustrated paperback storybook.

What are your thoughts on AI-generated personalized gifts?

I found ChatGPT and Midjourney useful for other projects too, like:



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