good question. seems like forever. OK, here's the story. maybe more of a rant than a story, but hey, it's cheap therapy...so you want to self publish a book of your photos? lesson one: if you're a photographer, it will NEVER look as good as your prints. get over it, the sooner, the better. "book people" will tell you how great it looks, but you know better... done with that? great. next, assume the following: color management, maybe. ok, maybe for the book, but don't ask about the cover. some form of human eyeball looking at your pages roll off the digital press? not likely. that's your job, once you get the book. will your pages be trimmed precisely? maybe. obvious errors will be corrected once you get the book in your hands and mention that you didn't design the extra white stripe down the middle of your 2 page spread...thought metamerism was a fading issue because folks like Epson have been working so hard at it? well, it lives and breathes on these presses. want to print black and white? sigh. that was my first mistake. if you like a lovely green tone to your images under certain lighting, have at it. stick to color images for now. i'll save your layout software options for another post. having said all that, for around 75 bucks, maybe less, you can get a decent-looking 68 page 13x11 inch book, which ain't bad for a one-off. you'll just have to be patient, figure out how not to push the technology too far, spend time on the various forums, and be willing to send defective books back and sometimes start over again.
you can take a look at a place like PhotoBook Press. yes, the books are more expensive. yes, actual people will tell you how to optimize your images for their press. want proofs, no problem.
worried about pressing the button and not being able to get your book back to fix the obvious typos you just discovered? don't. they assemble, they proof. you approve a PDF. nice.
me, i'm doing both, mostly because i started at one place, and moved to another(the first is BLURB, btw) what happened to "High Drama"? well, it changed. cover, type, layout, images, length. went through 4 revs with Blurb, and now one with PBP. should get my first book from them in a couple of weeks. then i will rev my Blurb title to reflect what works, so the 2 books are at least close in most respects(not size or cover art(!)
nope, haven't been out shooting in awhile, but will next week. oh, in between, i've been putting together an eBook version. stay tuned. and thanks for listening.