How to Publish Your Own Work for Next to Nothing
Obviously, there is more then one way to do this. This is just a description of what Iíve done. The final product of this process is not quite as ďglossyĒ and professional looking as what a traditional publisher, vanity publisher, or print on demand company can offer, but it will be nearly as durable, and it will look and feel like something worth buying. In addition, publishing this way is less expensive then almost any other publishing option. Paperback books published by major publishing companies cost a reader between seven and ten dollars by the time it gets to a bookstore. Vanity and print on demand publishers often charge between ten and twenty dollars a book. In contrast, it is possible to sell a thirty-thousand word novel for three dollars a book using this method and still make a small profit to help fund promotion and printing costs.
In order to publish in this way, you will need access to a computer with a word processing program, a reasonably good printer, a Risograph duplicating machine, a Bindomatic thermal binding machine, two sheets card stock (the stuff they print business cards on) for each individual book you want to print up, and a large quantity of white typewriter paper, preferably acid free. Itís not necessary to actually own anything except the paper and the card stock- although owning all of your own equipment, especially a computer and a printer, will make things easier and less expensive, there are many places where you can pay to either rent such equipment or use it on-site for a nominal fee.
Hereís how to do it-
1. If the text isnít already loaded into a word processing program, type it into a computer. Format the document so that page numbers are listed for each page of the document (this will come in very handy later on). Print it out. Be sure to set your printer and your word processor in such a way as to get the highest quality print possible. On Word, do this by pressing the properties button on the print menu before printing, and setting the Quality to High.
2. Come up with a front cover. All that your cover really need is your name and the name of the book, but itís probably a good idea to either come up with some kind of an image or enlist someone else to do it. Either way, the image will have to be in black and white. Itís a good idea to put a copyright notice on the flip side of the cover. This is what a copyright notice looks like:
Copyright © by Brendan Detzner
All Rights Reserved
To get the copyright symbol on Word, go to the Insert Menu, click on Symbols, then click on the special symbols tab. The copyright mark should be right there. Donít worry about registering the copyright, weíll go over that later.
3. Decide how many copies of the book you want. The more you print out the cheaper each one will be to produce. Get each page of the book copied that number of times using the Risograph machine onto the typewriter paper. Acid free typewriter paper is best for this- it lasts longer than regular printer paper, which dissolves after a few decades. Regular paper, on the other hand, is often cheaper, and can easily be liberated from workplaces and schools. The choice is up to you.
The reason that we recommend using the Risograph machine instead of a traditional photocopier is the price- when youíre making lots and lots of copies of each document (like one or two hundred), the Risograph is much cheaper then a copy machine. If you canít find a place that has a Risograph you can use (most major chains donít carry them, unfortunately) then a photocopier or an industrial laser printer can substitute. If you donít own the equipment yourself, itís worth checking around for the best deal. When youíre printing in bulk, small differences in per page prices can really add up.
4. Again, using the Risograph or whatever substitute youíre using, make a copy of your front cover onto card stock for each book youíre printing. If you put a copyright notice on the back of the cover, then these will be two sided copies.
5. Put everything into order. Use a blank piece of card stock for the back cover.
6. Use the Bindomatic thermal binding machine to bind each book together. This can be expensive to do all at once. I would recommend that you only get a few books bound at first. Once you sell those, you can use the money to bind a few more, then use the money from those to bind a few more, and so on and so forth. The easiest place to find one of these is an Office Depot outlet. I highly recommend using thermal binding- itís strong, lasts forever, and is professional looking. It also doesnít cost too much, depending on how big the book is youíre binding.
7. Get yourself a poor man's copyright. Mail yourself a copy of your newly printed book and don't open the envelope when it gets back. This isn't quite as good a measure as registering your book with the government, but it's much cheaper and good enough for our purposes.
Once you got the books bound, congratulations! Youíre published. Now what are you going to do? Iím still working on that question. Getting a book in your hands is a piece of cake compared to getting somebody to buy it. The cheap prices that youíre able to sell for this way will make things easier (itís hard to get somebody to make a fifteen dollar impulse buy, at least in most neighborhoods), but that wonít do the job entirely by itself. How are you going to convince anybody that what youíre written is any good?
Bad Grammar is an attempt to solve some of these problems. By working together, self-publishing authors can have a lot more luck getting their work out there. Trying to convince a complete stranger that they had ought to buy something that youíve written yourself is tough. Trying to convince a complete stranger that they ought to buy something somebody else wrote that you think is good is a little easier. Also, by forming an exclusive group, it gives each of our authors another selling point. We wonít take crap. If somebody buys something from an author associated with Bad Grammar, they know that, while the book may or may not be to their taste personally, itís not going to be a waste of their time. Itís going to be something different and interesting.
Thatís the dream, anyhow. Good putting this information to use!
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