Advice on self-publishing a book?
March 8, 2004 10:01 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone here ever self published a book? I have a great idea, a sure-fire distribution venue, and completed content, but I'm clueless about producing the actual end product. Its quite short (about 40 pages) -- other than taking it to my local copy shop and having them photocopy and bind the thing, are there other options?
posted by anastasiav to Writing & Language (11 answers total)
I'm going to be attending an alt-press cartoonist's thing in the summer, and I'm trying to get a booklet of strips and essays printed.

If you need a very, very short run, odds are for a first go the Kinko's route is honestly the best, price and time-wise. If you're aiming for hundreds of copies, there are a few professional printers people have pointed me to.

Most other cartoonists I have talked to have recommended Brenner and Morgan for printing, but I'm still writing to them vis-a-vis rates myself. The advantage that the printers have over Kinko's- aside, of course, from the quality- is that they can offer a wider range of pre-press services that can help you with your problem.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:18 AM on March 8, 2004

There are print on demand services around now. For example there's Fultus and iUniverse.
posted by skylar at 10:21 AM on March 8, 2004

There's LuLu, which among other things has a print-on-demand "solution."
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:04 AM on March 8, 2004

Cafepress does on-demand book sales now, too. I know that noted blogger Lance Arthur sells his book [vaguely NSFW, naughty book title] through them.
posted by bcwinters at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2004

Depending on how many copies you need, do a Request for Proposals, with details about what you need (you don't need to include content).

Then send it to local copy shops, and even some shops you wouldn't normally think of, like blueprinters, who do copying services of scale.

Kinko's will generally undercut everyone as a rule. And as a rule, if you get a lower quote from another company, Kinko's might match it. Just get all the proposals in writing, and then send them back out with the low-ball offer, and see who is willing to go even lower. When you finally have all of your offers, judge their abilities versus cost, and then you have your choice.

It sounds a little complicated, but its not that hard, and can get you a lot better deals than just going into one company and saying "print this".
posted by benjh at 11:08 AM on March 8, 2004

No Media Kings may have some useful info for you. See the links in the top left corner under books.
posted by dobbs at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2004

anastasiav, let us know (maybe on your MeFi userpage) when you publish it -- and if it'll be possible to order it online!

posted by matteo at 2:35 PM on March 8, 2004

Depending on how big a distribution you want, you might have problems getting your book into larger bookstores.

Generally, though, B&N can get most iUniverse books.
posted by geekhorde at 3:05 PM on March 8, 2004

In my experience; For very short print runs (25 copies or so) and small booklets (~30 pages), I've found that for decent quality, printing them myself works out cheapest.

Pages are printed on my Panasonic KX-P7105 (With Duplex option), and the covers are printed in grayscale on coloured card.

With a good quality stapler, you should be able to go to 40 pages, plus you get that whole print-on-demand thing everyone talks about.

Of course, the results aren't very professional, but they're as good as most copy-shops.
posted by seanyboy at 3:37 PM on March 8, 2004

For a really good, professional project that you're prepared to sink a couple thousand dollars into, Tom and Marilyn Russ's "Complete Guide to Self-Publishing" is good, though rather dated by now; it was written before POD and the internet.

Probably not worth it for a smaller project, though.
posted by Jeanne at 7:00 PM on March 8, 2004

My employer recently self-published, as a fundraiser, a ~150-page 5.5" x 8.5" book. We used Kinko's, have printed I believe 4 runs of 500 copies, and were fairly happy with the quality, although the book was photo-heavy and the photos obviously would have looked better from a real printer, and the book (a cookbook) lent itself to being spiral-bound much more so than many others would. Also, if you are spending a decent amount of money, I found Kinko's to be very helpful and good to work with.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:16 AM on March 9, 2004

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