How to Print, Bind & Sell Your Own Books

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Producing your own book for sale is a good way to publish your own art, photography or writing without having to go through the normal route of finding a literary agent and traditional publisher. With new technologies now available to the general public, it is extremely easy to self-publish your own work, allowing you to control every step of the process, from selecting the paper it's printed on, to determining where to sell it. The most straight-forward way is to go to an online self-publisher, such as Lulu.com or CafePress.com; however, you can also go through offline publishers.

  • Select the publication method. This will determine subsequent steps, such as how to format your book or manuscript, or how to submit it. Online publishers such as Lulu.com and Blurb.com may already have templates and web-based browser tools to assist you in uploading, formatting and printing your creation. Offline publishers will have more specific requirements.

  • Print Your Book. If publishing with an online service, follow the step-by-step publication wizards. Select the size of your publication (pocket book, A5, U.S. Trade) and whether the paper is to be publisher grade, standard quality or a premium, heavier weight, or coated-finish type.

    Use the online service's cover design wizards or templates to make a cover that looks professionally designed. Offline publishers will require the design to already be finished using Photoshop or other similar software to generate jpg or tiff format documents.

    The manuscript itself may be requested as a Windows Word or Adobe PDF document, of a particular size such as 5.5 inches by 5.8 inches. Both services can print out the book and mail it to you to bind yourself, or the service can bind it for you.

  • Bind Your Book. Choose the type of binding you want, such as perfect binding, ring binding, stitched binding or hardcover bindings (casewrap). Some methods of binding require machines, others only use basic craft materials. For example, to bind a hardback publication, first stack the pages neatly and then staple the papers together down the mid-line of the stack.

    If your staple is unable to do the whole document, then split it up into smaller stacks of eight pages. Next, collect all the stacks and glue a strip of thin fabric down back of the stapled mid-line to make a bound folio.

    Make the cover by cutting out two pieces of hard card that span the width and length of the bound folio. Also cut out a strip that is the width of the thickness of the folio (this makes the spine of the book). Lay out the back cover, spine and front cover in that order on a piece of leather or fabric, and cut these to size, ensuring that you include a one-inch (or wider) border surrounding the cards.

    Spread rubber or white glue over the entire surface of each card and then glue these onto the leather or fabric covering, leaving a gap approximately the width of the card, which gives the cover flexibility. Cut out a sheet of lining paper that is slightly smaller than the size of two pages of the book. Fold this in half and glue one half onto the cover, and the other half onto the first page of the folio, then repeat this for the back cover.

    Allow the glue to dry for at least 24 hours, and iron the pages on medium heat if any wrinkles have formed. The book is now bound. You can also use online publisher sites like lulu.com to bind the book and proceed straight to selling.

  • Sell Your Book. If you have used an online publisher, you can use the company's distribution service to obtain an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to allow your book to be located by buyers, publishers, libraries and sellers.

    Next get a bar code that can be included on the back cover of your publication. This can be obtained for free from many online sites, including Barcoding.com. Use distribution services such as marketREACH from Lulu.com, or the Blurb Bookstore on Blurb.com, so your book is made available to a wide range of brick-and-mortar and online retailers globally, including Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

    Use the services to list your book details with bibliographic repositories, such as Nielsen and Bowker. Any books sold will earn you royalties that are paid through Lulu.com to your specified account.

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  • Photo Credit pile of books image by Photosani from Fotolia.com
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