Tiny House Book Mojo

Professional book packagers would be aghast at the way I put together a book. Assemble material (photos and text) for over a year, store in file folders, then at certain point pull best material out and begin laying out a spread — 2 pp. at a time. Random, no order. No plan or outline, no idea how things will fit together; just here the requirement that shelters be under 500 sq. ft.

It’s a wild mix so far — about 40 pages roughed out — and the book has now got its first trace of a mojo workin.

Book starting to run through my mind all the time. I’ve read how novelists get into a thing where they (authors) are just transmitting what their characters are telling them. Or maybe it’s muses at work. It feels a bit like that now, a natural process, a seed growing. Exciting! This is the best part of my job, watching all this unfold.

Not only my disorganizedness, but method of layout would never fly with a grownup publisher. I do layout physically, adjusting size of photos on a Brother (DCP-9040CN) color copy machine, writing text as I go, printing out, taping photos/text down (using, can you believe it, #11 X-actos, a proportional wheel(!), and lift-uppable Scotch Tape — I see you InDesign-meisters shaking your heads). Other tools: coffee, sometimes ganja, blues, rocking country, reggae, or bluegrass on Sirius radio. Often I start out wondering how I’ll ever make sense of all these pix and lo and behold, things will fall together. Right now I’m in email touch with a bunch of contributors. Everyone loves the project.

Then David Wills, Shelter’s Senior Artist will come in and improve the design of each spread. Eventually they go to productionmeister Rick, who builds the book in InDesign/Photoshop. A lot of back-and-forth and refining goes on, it’s a long (and costly) process. But like organic strawberries, the result’s worth it.

I’ll show some of the layouts at my talk on the ½-acre homestead at SolFest on Sept. 25 if there’s time.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

10 Responses to Tiny House Book Mojo

  1. From reader to writer I can safely say we can stick to our usual contract Lloyd.

    You write how you want, in the way you see best,
    We will buy it, read it and enjoy it.

    Simple enough for me!

  2. Thank you for sharing your process Lloyd. As a reader of your books, I appreciate the big, beautiful and interesting photos. They are all pick-up-able, meaning that I can pick them up and be amazed many times over, and I see new things from new angles with each viewing. The way you design is tactile and involved. Though I'm "Generation Y" (oh-why!) I love the feeling of physically move-able pieces and will hand write/compose designs for projects long before I hop on the computer.

  3. I am most inspired by your books and blog I have a small space living passion and am working on a project now .I would love for you to see it on my face book page.It is only 64 sq ft and knock down portable off grid solar powered with a saw dust toilet….I also think you should write a cook book …truck struck critters lol kevin coy kevin@mobile-clean.com thanks and keep it comming

  4. thanks sooooooo much for your way of doing books. yep, sense Shelter, you have influenced my "dream house" and now I'm in it. Smack in the Midwest where I never thought I'd live Smack on the Mississippi….Thanks so much for your research and putting it together like you have. We have now lived in our round log house (yep, built of logs that were in a cabin in 1750, and a yurt roof and rounded windows….we get folks to come and see this house every week…..it would fit in easy in the Northwest, but here….very unique to say the least!) I can hardly wait for your new book as I'm looking to build a harp studio. aloha, irene

  5. No matter on "conventional" publishing methods, your style is all your own and is wonderful. Love your books and am so excited for the new one. Lookin’ good so far!!

  6. I'm with you, brother. There's nothing like working with paper to reveal what the end result printed on paper will be like. It's just not real enough on a computer monitor. For organizing large amounts of information and juggling positions, it's the tactile best.

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