Do-It-Yourself Publishing

Lightbox for 2016 - Apr 2 - do-it-yourself publishing

Offset Printing

Back in the days when I was typesetting, there was only one [modern] way to print a book. The process produced galleys* — long strips of photographic paper with “type” (set up in required font, point size, column width, etc.) — that the artists would trim, wax and paste onto perfectly measured and marked sheets of paper. These in turn would become photographic negatives that were “burned” onto thin metal plates which would be wrapped around the huge rollers on the printing press. This is called offset printing. A tedious process then, it’s computerized now.

*A gal I worked with back then would say, after our lunch or a break: “Well. Back to the galleys.” Hence, this Post’s cartoon.

(I can’t tell if this is one really huge offset printing press, or several. Must be several.)

offset printing

The history of printing:

Traditional Publishers use the offset printing process because it can handle quantity and the quality is superior to digital. No need to go into further detail. Unless we plan to have thousands of units printed, we Indies don’t need to know any more than what I’ve provided about offset printing.

Digital Printing

Almost all self-published/indie-published books are done digitally. Simplistically, this means toss it in a photocopier and push a button. Out comes a book. (Well, after collating, folding, trimming, and gluing on a cover, and other things happen, that is.)

What I will refer to as “Real [digital] Printers” charge a lot for a single copy of a book. so the trend is toward what is called Print on Demand, or POD. This means we won’t have to take out a loan to get a single copy. The unit price is the same for one or a thousand copies.

There are a lot of companies who advertise POD services. Some of them are crooks so check around with colleagues before sending them any money.

From my colleagues, I have heard that Friesen Press ( ) delivers what they say they will deliver. They edit and design both print and e-format at market prices.

I use a US company, CreateSpace ( ) to upload my books to be available at They provide edit and design services as well (in US$). Because I do my own design, both interior and cover, I can’t speak of the quality of their edit/design services, but I’m very satisfied with the quality of the books they produce.

(The drawback with using a US company is that “foreigners” must deal with the W8-BEN — US tax form — to sell books through Amazon, even to ourselves through CreateSpace. (We can purchase copies for ourselves without the royalties at a good price.),-Certificate-of-Foreign-Status-of-Beneficial-Owner-for-United-States-Tax-Withholding )

For some clients wanting an average run, perhaps 100 copies or so, I recently am recommending a local Real Printer. When the Canadian dollar and the US dollar were almost even, it was cheaper to order through one’s CreateSpace account, even with the delivery charges and the taxes at the border. You might have to hunt around for a Real Printer willing to do a small run like this. Yes, to them, 100 copies is a small run.

Another good company that colleagues are recommending is

Here’s a link to a CreateSpace–IngramSpark comparison.


Microsoft Publisher

For those who have a knack for design, I can recommend Microsoft Publisher: They have templates. They provide Help.


I use Serif PagePlus. I have used it for years. I love it because it’s typesetter friendly [translate, obedient]. There’s a bit of a learning curve but once that has been surmounted, it’s a delight to work with. Yes, they provide Help, as well.

They also provide “free stuff”:

I like Serif’s PhotoPlus program, too , although I am still climbing that curve. (My needs are basic so I haven’t needed to get out my crampons, boots, ropes, pulleys and harnesses to explore all that Serif PhotoPlus offers by way of manipulating images.)

I hope in my next post to provide some information on creating an ePUB file, a touchy little monster that e-publishing pretty much requires we tame if we wish to upload our own e-files.


Next Post — will be April 16, April 30; i.e., every two weeks for the next little while.

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):

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