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Turning your manuscript into an actual book may entail a little bit of a learning curve. Here are some steps to get you started.
This should go without saying, but it must be said anyway. While your manuscript is still in MS Word, or whatever word-processing software you use, it should be thoroughly proofread by a professional or a trusted friend. There is nothing more disheartening than getting your final product back and finding spelling or grammar errors.
Choose a Layout Program
Whichever layout or typesetting software you choose, if you are doing the job yourself, there may be a little bit of a learning curve involved. Some of the most common choices on the market are Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress, although there are a few other choices out there, including some that are free.
While we can’t provide all of the information you will need to do a complete layout, here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started.
1.Decide the trim size you want your book to have and if you want the pages in a normal (portrait) format or landscape (long ways). Make sure that all the pages reflect the orientation that you prefer.
2.When it comes to setting the margins, there are a couple of choices. Most of the time you will see books with margins that are a half inch from the edges, while some prefer to go as much as three quarters of an inch. Just do some experimenting to see what works best for you.
Now you can start to import the text from your manuscript file into your pages. Make sure that the columns are linked together so the text will flow from one to the next seamlessly. It is usually better to use the import function of your typesetting software rather than simply copy and pasting from your word processing program, because in the latter case there is the possibility of losing your formatting.
In a lot of cases, you will have to work with your spacing and font size to create a total page number that is divisible by 32.Meaning that your book should be, for example, 192 or 224 pages rather than 200. Remember to use the master page function to place the book title at the top of each page (or alternate title with author name). And don’t forget to number your pages.
Use your program’s PDF function (in InDesign, it is the “export” function) to make a PDF out of your file. Send the file to your printer.
If you are sending the manuscript to a publisher, punch and bind the pages into a three-ring binder. If you are publishing the book yourself, consider purchasing your own thermal binding machine to finish your book. These types of machines create bookstore and library-ready books in a matter of minutes and the process is amazingly simple. Thermal binding machines can be had for less than $100 in some places, so take a good look around for a machine that suits your needs.
Pick a Theme or Genre:
You have probably decided on this long ago, right? If, however, for some reason you haven’t, now is the time to start to think about what kind of book you would like to put together. Some of the most common types of home or small office-produced books are:
1. Poetry. Putting together a collection of your poetry is a great way to get your work out into the world, and the process of editing and culling your poems can be very useful and constructive.
2. Photographs. Digital photography has made shutterbugs of us all, and putting together books of photos of vacations, family reunions, special events or holidays is one way to make sure that they stay with us forever.
3. Novels and Short Stories. You don’t have to be a published author to get your work in hardcover form. You can print and bind your works of fiction at home whenever you like.
4. Cookbooks. Whether you are creating hundreds of books for a fundraising project, or just enough to hand out to friends and family, you can quickly and easily put your cookbooks together all by yourself.
5. Presentations, Reports, and Proposals. Whether you are currently running a small business or you are looking for ways to get one started, putting together attractively bound proposals and other promotional materials on an as needed basis, and edited for specific audiences is a great way to control your message and appeal to the right people.
These are, of course, just a few examples. You may also be looking to publish and bind a family history, book of children’s stories, comic book, or even a coloring book. When you do your own binding and have your own machine at the ready, the possibilities are endless.
Editing, Proofreading, and Layout
Just because you are doing your work yourself doesn’t mean that your book can’t look as good and read as well as those of the big boys. Be sure to have some trusted friends or colleagues go over your book with a fine tooth comb to check for any spelling or grammar errors. If you need help with readability, you can either use the services of a friend, or hire a professional. If you have a college nearby, you might enlist the services of a graduate student, who will almost certainly work at a lower rate than a professional.
Layout is best done with software such as InDesign, Illustrator or QuarkXpress. If you do not have access to these, there are similar programs you can download for free, or, depending on the scope of your project, you may be able to use a word processing program such as MS Word.
Printing and Binding:
If parts of your book are in color, you will want to use a four color digital process for those pages. The rest should be laser printed. As far as binding your book, there are numerous options. Plastic Comb binding is great for cookbooks, music books and instruction manuals; Spiral Coil binding is great for menus and notebooks or journals, Twin-loop binding is a great way to display your photography or your poetry, and Thermal binding gives you a perfect, bookstore-ready look that will last forever. All of these methods use machines that are both inexpensive and easy to use, making them a cost-effective solution to running to the print shop every time you need to put a document together in a short time frame.
Getting into the publishing business to fill local needs can be a great way to make a living. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Finding a Niche:
Just like with any business, the key to being successful in publishing may well be to zero in on a specific niche. If you are fortunate, you will be able to find a niche that resides within your areas of interest. When it comes to finding a niche in publishing, the idea is to fill a need. If, for instance, you have a burgeoning tourist industry in your area, but you feel there is a lack of guide books or similar informational material, you can start to strategize ways that you can fill that need.
To find success as a small publisher, you don’t just want to fill the need, however, you want to fill it as thoroughly as possible, and to put out quality products and content. Another big part of this success will be doing a little bit of research to make sure that your audience is large enough to potentially give you enough sales to turn a profit in your business.
One of the main reasons small businesses fail is that they don’t do enough research into what their costs will be. The first thing you might want to research in your small publishing business is your printing and binding costs. You can get bids from your local printer for the number of pages and copies you anticipate your publications will run, and set these costs against what the price might be for you to own your own machines and to do the work in-house.
Depending on the type of binding that you intend to do, you may well find that having your own machine cuts your costs dramatically. Thermal binding machines in particular (the kind of units that bind hardcover and softcover books) are quite inexpensive and surprisingly easy to use. You can literally bind a book in less than a minute using one of these machines, and there are many that cost less than $100.
In the example that we went with above, (a set of books or magazines about local tourist attractions), you may find that you can defray costs be selling advertising. You can either sell the space yourself, or if that’s just not your thing, find someone experienced that is willing to work for a commission. The price of the ads is up to you, but you will want to make sure that they at least cover all of your costs. You are not in this business to lose money, after all.
There may not necessarily be a need to hire a graphic designer, though that may be your plan. Layout software such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress are absolutely necessary, but you can probably learn how to operate them well enough for your purposes if you take a class or two. Not to downplay the awesome abilities of these programs and those who are true wizards at it, but putting a little time in to learn the software yourself can save you the cost of a hired gun or full time design and layout person.
Creating books in class is a fun and engaging class project, and gives your students something they can keep forever. Here are a few tips on how to get started.
Picking a Theme:
Before you get to putting a book together, the first thing you will have to decide is what you want your students’ books to be about. Fortunately, there pretty much countless projects in just about all of the major disciplines that you can successfully create books around. In the English department, for instance, you can put together books of your students’ writing work, either individually or collectively. Your history class can create a book about a major event such as the Civil War. Even the science-based classes can make books out of field studies and findings from various experiments the class has undertaken.
Gathering Your Material:
As mentioned above, there are at least a couple of different ways to go about putting your book together. For instance, your book can either represent the work of the whole class, or of each individual student. In the former case, you can assign various tasks to each student that will represent his or her contribution to the final product. This is a great way to impart the lesson of working together to create something of value, and of setting and meeting deadlines. You can also create a separate book for each individual student that represents his or her work throughout the school year, or for a particular learning section. Some other options include creating department-wide books, such as cookbooks for home economics classes, poems and stories from the creative writing classes, drawings and paintings from the art department, and the list goes on.
When you are putting your book together, unless you intend the books to be your own project as, for instance, surprise gifts to your students, it will provide them a great learning experience if they are involved in every aspect of the work from inspiration, to creation, to the finished product. If your class were to, say, take a vote on what kind of book they would like to create, it stands to reason that they will be more engaged in the process and be more likely to follow through.
Just like with any book, there should be a good mix of text and graphics. If it is some kind of science or business study, for instance, there should be at least some photographs and/or charts and graphs.
For younger students, you may want to create a template that each student can work with, such as a place to put a photo, and lines to fill in.
Printing and Binding Options:
There are numerous options, of course, but if you are using color in your graphics, you will want to use a color printer if your school has one. As far as binding, you can take a look at what kinds of machines your school has on hand. Chances are there will be a plastic comb binding machine, or perhaps even spiral coil unit. These are both great options and very useful to have around, so if your school is lacking one, it might be a good thing to request. You might also check with your library to see if they have a thermal binding machine. These machines can create hardcover books in a matter of minutes, and are very inexpensive.