Tips for self-publishing a simple book?
April 27, 2009 8:01 AM   Subscribe

I know there are many Mefi references to self-publishing, but this question is a little different. Let me explain the background:

I work with indigenous communities in rural South America. I'm now working with a group with whom I have just developed an alphabet and written language. It's a very exciting time and the people, especially some of the youth, are very enthusiastic. To direct this enthusiasm, we have recorded a bunch of stories and transcribed them into this language using their (now existing!) alphabet. I thought it'd be a cool gift to publish the stories (about 100 exemplars) with some illustrations by a local artist. So far, so good. Now I'm looking at publishing options, and there are a lot.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions on getting a good finished product? Any particular publisher reccomended for this sort of work? Trying to keep costs low (this is from my own pockets), but quality high (the eternal struggle, eh?)

Thanks a lot!
posted by mateuslee to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is a fascinating idea. I wonder, though, how it can be made to work in traditional (as it were) Print on Demand; if you have indeed created an alphabet from scratch, are you using extant symbols? If not, I wonder how you can get the stories printed up in, say Word -- because you'll need to be able to submit some sort of document file to these places. The art is less of a problem, of course.

Could image files be used for the "text"? Sorry I haven't got any firm answers for you, but I'm favoriting this thread because I think it's so cool.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2009

I'm using lulu for a personal project and I like it a lot. I don't see any reason why image files couldn't be used as text. I just downloaded their word document template for the book size I wanted and started plugging stuff in. Very straightforward, and you can use their cost calculator to figure out how much each copy would be.
posted by selfmedicating at 9:07 AM on April 27, 2009

Word isn't a very good design tool, but it can do. Do you have access to any software such as the Adobe suite? Do you have any design background? Do you know what a bleed is? Sorry, but it's hard to give suggestions without knowing what you know.

As for the text, if you have a computer typeface/font for this language, then use that and send a PDF with embedded fonts to the printer, not a Word doc. You may have an Adobe "PDF printer" installed, depending on your system, which can print a Word doc to a PDF file. If you're on Mac OS X you can print anything to PDF. Failing that, you might be able to find a Word-to-PDF converter online.

If you're using only existing characters, should be no problem.

If it's all handwritten, scan in the pages as TIFF files, at least 150 DPI up to 300 DPI for better quality. Then put the images into the document a page at a time.

As far as what service to select, the big question is how many copies you want. For small numbers of copies, print-on-demand like Lulu would be my first choice. If you want a whole ton of copies, print-on-demand will be very $$$ and it would probably be better to go with a more traditional self-publishing company that does the whole print run at once. I'm not sure there's an exact cutoff point, but if you want hundreds, it would be good to do a price check.
posted by pengale at 9:30 AM on April 27, 2009

If the alphabet you've created is not made up of existing characters, use fontifier to create a typeface for it. Then, you can create pdfs using that font and the images from your illustrator.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @ Guy_Inamonkeysuit: Thanks for the enthusiasm! Well, the script we use in the Latin alphabet with a few modifications but nothing that couldn't be written in Notepad or something. Lucky for us, the standard symbols seem perfectly adequate... sad to say some of my colleagues have it much worse with strange (by our standards) alphabets or syllbaries.
@ pengale: No idea about bleed and no design background (sure would appreciate any suggestions!)... seems like I'll stick to under 100 copies (small community here!) so I'll check out lulu... I hear those people mentioned a lot and it seems like a good lead.
posted by mateuslee at 11:41 AM on April 27, 2009

Best answer: In addition to lulu, check out blurb.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:29 PM on April 27, 2009

I've used Lulu and was very happy with the result. I printed a full-color, case-wrap hardcover and I've been pleased both by the print quality and by the quality of the binding.
posted by larsks at 1:30 PM on April 27, 2009

« Older Name Change Help   |   software for unknown extension Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.