Introduction: Self Publishing

I am an award-winning author published in numerous anthologies as well as complete books of my writing. Because of my success, the professors of creative writing and English from my alma maters ask me to give lectures occasionally. It makes teachers feel proud when one of their students become a published author and returns to share their success with their class.

I am going to explain how I made this book from cover to cover, and how you can make and publish your own book. We will be covering editing, copyrights, ISBNs, barcodes, printing, binding, cover design, attaching the cover,and the three main ways to publish. Make notes to ask questions at the end of the lecture or at the end of each step of the books construction.

I often speak about being published by a publisher, self-publishing, and vanity publishing.

Many famous writers started by vanity publishing or self publishing.

Publishers will tell you their submission guidelines on line and by mail.

Vanity Publishers will publish anything as long as you are willing to pay many industries use vanity publishers for their in house printing. (I.e. Their catalogs or Trade Journals)

Although I have never paid a publisher to publish a book of my writing or a short story of mine, I have self-published one book of poetry. Books of poetry are hard to get published or market simply because of the limited market. Not a lot of people read poetry for the sheer joy of reading poetry, so a lot of good work would never be read unless self published or vanity published.

My book is studied as Canadian literature in a number of prestigious colleges and universities across North America and I self-published this book of poetry. So now I am not just the author I am the publisher.

Step 1: Editing

Writing a story or book is the easy part if you are inspired, editing is more work, but simple if you take the time, get other people to read and critique your writing before you commit to print. Other people see what you don’t and you do not want mistakes in your book permanently.

Many publishers charge for editing and the larger the book the more they charge for editing your book. Some publishers are particular about the dialect of what they publish in this case it may be worth the cost to pay the publisher for editing. When critiquing writing, remember there are over eighteen different dialects of English with different spellings and grammar.

Watch out for spell checks; I write in a word processing program with the auto correct turned off, and still if I miss type the word “donut” missing the “u” it will auto correct to “don’t” instead of marking it spelled wrong. Auto correct makes many mistakes with typos and homophones. Others may call this a spelling mistake; I call this word confusion because this is a mistake created by the program and a typo.

Listen to what they say, if they say things like “It sounds awkward”, and “It is hard to follow”, or the killer of all stories, “Boring there is no suspense it is to predictable” your book is dead from the get go. Of course, this only applies if you have a western reader reading a western story, not a western reader reading a science fiction.

Step 2: The Numbers

Some of the fees and copyright duration's have changed since writing this Instructable. Remember this is the W.W.W. and different countries have different copyright rules and fees.

If you are thinking of self-publishing here are a few numbers you should consider these amounts are subject to change. These are easy to do, little more than filling out your name and address, paying the fees and supplying two copies of your book.

You need three things to publish a book for the public:
1. ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
2. Copyright
3. Barcodes

These are usually on the cover and on an inside page.

In Canada ISBN (International Standard Book Number) are 13 digits and are free to Canadian Authors and publishers and it will cost two books sent to Library and Archives Canada.

At the U.S. ISBN Agency, a single ISBN is $125.oo online and goes down per ISBN the more you buy to 1,000 ISBN for $1,000.

Some publishers charge $0.oo for ISBN that is just some publishers; other publisher’s charges thousands.

There are two Copyrights, Registered Copyrights, and Unregistered Copyrights.

The free Copyright you get with some publishers is not necessarily a Registered Copyright.

Unregistered Copyrights cost nothing.

Registered Copyrights are $50.oo Canadian online from Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

U.S. Registered Copyrights are $35.oo online from U.S. Copyright Office and $65.oo by mail in form.

All works under copyright protection that are published in the United States are subject to the mandatory deposit provision of the copyright law. This law requires that two copies of the best edition of every copyrightable work published in the United States be sent to the Copyright Office within three months of publication. Mandatory deposit applies to works first published in a foreign country at the point at which they are distributed in the United States in the form of copies that are imported or are part of an American edition.

Publishers charge $250.oo and up for a Registered Copyright.
$250.oo and up is a lot more than $30.oo to $50.oo.

Barcodes are $25.oo each.

You can get a publishing company to publish and market your book. Publishing packages can be as low as $600 and as high as $20,000 depending on the advertising and other services you are willing to pay for. The down side is you do not always control the price of your book to you or your readers. Foreign royalties can be two years behind sales if you get them at all.

If you don’t want to use your credit card on line, get a prepaid card, $185.oo U.S. or $75.oo Canadian. That is Copyright, ISBN, and barcode.

Then you can design the book from cover to cover find a printing company and market the book yourself.

A 4.1/4-inch by 7 inch by 1 inch, 500 page, paperback colour, glued binding, should cost no more than $4.oo a copy a gross. Get bids from different printers, public bids get the best price. Remember 1000 copies is $4000.oo.

If I print my novlet a 6 inch by 9 inch by 0.11 inch book with 48 pages, paperback colour, glued binding from my computer it cost me $1.oo a copy, from my publisher $13.oo a copy with shipping.

A minimal order from a printer can be 25 books and cost $250.oo, that is shipping, handling, and customs if your book must cross a border, so if you only want a hand full of books you might want to make the book yourself.

Step 3: Making a Book

I worked in the printing industry and know how to make a book from scratch, If you only want to produce a hand full of books it might be worth your wile to learn how to make one. You can make a book any size, however I am going to stick to a book size you can make on a standard colour printer.

Once you have edited and gotten your ISBN (International Standard Book Number), Copyright, and Barcode, you are ready to print.

I have a printing company print my book now, however the first two copies of my poetry book I made at home on my computer and printer when they were new.

Format the book in a word processing program for a 6x9” book and setup the printer for 6x9” paper, then load 6x9” paper in the printer and print the odd pages first then flip the pages over and print the even pages.

That is how easy it is to print the interior of the book.

Step 4: Binding

There are many different ways to bind a book, hardcover, soft cover, perfect bind, plastic coil, and saddle stitching just to mention a few. In this article, I am going to explain glued binding.

For binding I used a 6x9” jig, the jig is a wood box to hold the pages in place while you glue the spine. It has a back with edges to hold the pages square and a front to compress the pages.

Perfect bind is a one piece cover that wraps from back to front of the books interior; anything over a 5x7” book you will need the cover printed by a print shop if you want a one piece cover since a standard printer takes 8.5x11 paper and needs a border.

If you print the cover yourself you may want to print and trim the cover pages before binding and then attach during the binding process.

Place the books pages in the jig with extra paper in the front and back and clamp. Do not over compress the books or the binding will not hold.

Then glue the back, the exact glue is not important as long as it is not brittle when it dries or your books back will break when you bend the pages. (Something that sets with a rubbery texture is best.)

When the glue is set separate the books and they are bound.

Step 5: The Cover

The cover of a book is the first thing a reader sees in a book store and can attract a reader faster than anything else, I am not 100% happy with the covers of my other books. They were designed by someone else, so I designed the cover of this book myself.

Anyone can design a cover start with a photograph, in my case I used a photograph of the moon on a cloudy night. Using a digital image editor crop the photo to center the front of the book and size the cover with a little extra for triming. Then add the print, a photograph of the author, and the barcode.

This cover is 12 1/2 inches by 9 1/4 inches it is too large for a normal printer so you may need to print the front and back cover separately or get a print shop to print the cover.

Step 6: Making the Cover

First print the front and back cover.

Then trim the borders making sure the front and back are the same size as the books interior.

Then glue the front and back cover to the spine.

When the glue is set the book is ready to cover the spine.

Step 7: Covering the Spine

You can cover the spine with almost anything, in my case I used black silk ribbon. The silk ribbon will ad strength to the spine as well as it looks good.

To attach the ribbon to the spine lay the ribbon on some tape to protect the table from the glue and spread glue on one side of the ribbon. Then simply wrap the ribbon around the spine and trimmed off the excess ribbon.

Step 8: The Finished Book

The out side edges of a book do not have to be perfect, but if you want them perfect you will need an industrial cutting machine to trim the edges. Even a small book like this one is too much for a hand cutter, for my first few books I put the finished books back in my jig and used a belt sander to make the outside edges perfect.

I have a printing company print my books for me now, so I was not to concerned about the cover of this book having lines in it or getting the book perfect. (I need a new printer.) I made this one book just for this article to show you how you can make your own book. I will probably redo the photos when I get a new printer.

Don’t be afraid to mess up your first try, practice on blank paper and use the book for a journal or take it apart and try again. When you get it perfect, you will be proud.
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