I definitely don’t use auto fill. My books take a lot of time. My last one took about 6 hours.
My books are vacation books, so I first find a theme that best matches our trip. Then I review all my pictures and select the best ones that I might use and stick them in a folder. Then I import a days worth into mixbook. I see how many pictures I want to put onto 2 pages and then select a layout based on that number of pictures that best for the rotation of the photos. However, I usually have to size, move, and sometimes add more photo boxes.
I also now always add a text box about what I remember from the day, especially weird humorous encounters. Not all of my photos are pretty landscapes and posed family shots. I like lots of action shots - like our group hiking from behind. And also get things like pretty landscaped flower boxes. I even tend to put in things like our hotel and us getting off the shuttle bus or sitting miserably in an airport after the fifth delay. I also add the stickers and cute captions. I thought Shutterfly had more stickers to choose from, but the ones in mixbook worked great with my latest book. And it was easy to import a couple of my own.
I got the non glossy version and I sized it up. I thought it would be the same size as my Shutterfly, but it’s bigger. It must be 11x14 vs 8.5x14. But I love it. The quality of the book feels great.