Tips for Publishing Your Own Book
In a world of digital design, online learning, and e-readers, sitting down and holding a real book, with a color cover and actual pages to turn, isn’t always an everyday experience. For many book lovers, reading an actual book and leafing through its pages is as much a part of the experience as reading the book itself.
Imagine now, holding a book in your hand that you have created. Maybe it’s a family history, a collection of the poems you’ve written over the years, the memoirs of your grandparents, or a print version of a full year of your blog. Putting works such as this in a print format will allow you to access it in a power outage, outlive your online publishing subscriptions, and last longer than your hard drive. If you’re interested in publishing your own book, here are a few tips to get you started.
Choose a page size. The most common page size for family histories and works containing photographs is 8.5“ x 11” which allows you the choice of double or single-columned pages. The second most popular size is 5.5” x 8.5” which nicely fits a single column of text and is better suited to books with fewer photographs. Format your writing to fit these pages and their appropriate margins.
Write and format. This requires certain degree of computer savviness. Your life will be much happier and the project will go much smoother if you format as you go. Use software that will allow you to format throughout the writing process, creating a layout that will work for you in all stages of production. Among the best software programs for this purpose are Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher, and Adobe InDesign. Many publishers will require you to save your works in a PDF format for printing.
Have someone edit for you. No matter how many times you proofread your own work, it is highly unlikely that you will catch all your own mistakes. Having someone else read, edit, and critique your work will result in a much better finished product. Never do your own final edit.
How many copies of the book will you need? If you’re publishing a family history work or your great-grandmother’s journal, there may be a number of people in the family who are interested in owning a copy. Some small self-publishing houses have minimums as low as 25 copies for hardcover editions and 50 for paperback. Ask how many copies are required for reprints and how much they will cost. If the minimums and or prices are high for reprints, consider getting a couple of extra copies for yourself at the time of the original printing.
These are professional-quality print books that will be treasured for years to come. If you’re publishing last year’s blog or your immediate family’s year in pictures, chances are you will need just a few copies, maybe as few as one for each of your children. In these cases, you may be best off printing them from a photo printing website. If you’re working with something in between, call a local printer and ask them what kind of publishing options they have available for you.
Remember the book is for you and your family. Don’t let publishing the book get too stressful for you. If you are doing this for yourself and your posterity, not to make money, don’t give yourself unrealistic deadlines or run yourself ragged in pursuit of perfection.