Self Publishing – The Basics

Self Publishing – The Basics


I had a professor at Pratt Institute who taught us to make books.

It was the final month of senior year. The sleepy, spring air pressed through the Industrial Revolution era windows as we trimmed pieces of watercolor paper. We folded them into signatures, and saddle stitched. Then, we carefully built bindings with cardboard wrapped with handmade paper.

I cherished the lovely little books which smelled of rubber cement. It was one of my favorite projects.

Many years later, I found myself working in pre-press and production. The words of professional bookmaking became my daily lexicon.

Saddle stitch. Perfect bind. Total creep. Signatures. Blow ins.

I tossed about the terms like the tough-gal insider I fancied myself. The crisp, matte pages fresh off the Heidelberg made me happy. Rather than smelling of rubber cement, this time they smelled of litho ink. Anyone out there who loves that new book smell, I urge you to visit a print shop. The look on the pressman’s/preswoman’s face will probably be priceless as you ask to smell the just-printed pages. But it will be worth it.

Flash forward? I am making books again.

Now, I eagerly await UPS packages from the printer. I slice open a box to reveal a glossy stack. Yum.

But how is this done?

I use a service called Createspace. It is an Amazon company, so the books you produce can be offered for sale on Amazon. I love the simplicity of the process:

  1. You pay nothing up front
  2. You can even use a Createspace-assigned ISBN, so that you do not have to go through the process of purchasing your own. However, that places some limits on distribution, so you should do your research if you want to sell in other venues.
  3. Setup is easy. They have a step-by-step walk-through on the site. They describe the basic information you need, such as trim, safe area, etc. and they generate a full-color preview from their end so you can see how the book will print. You can create your own press-ready PDFs or use their online setup. I create PDFs because my product is very specific.
  4. You can order a printed proof on which to sign off so that you do not miss anything
  5. The finished product is clean and professional. I have gotten great feedback from the clarity and richness of color. And I am extremely hard to please when it comes to books. I know good from not-so-good.
  6. The payment works on a royalty structure. I am not taking home much with each sale, but that is not the point at this stage in the game. I am trying to establish myself, and Createspace has given me the platform from which to do exactly that.

The big benefit is that you can order Author Copies. And the price per is very competitive, in fact, it is lower than most print quotes I received (e.g., A 40 page / full-color workbook author copy price is about $3.40. That’s cheaper than your friendly office-supply store.)

There are other self-publishing platforms about which I have heard good things:


Infinity Publishing

Some additional sources:

This is a phenomenal resource that rates the self publishers

A list of self publishers from Wikipedia

If you are ready to go large scale, you can print with the greats.

I have worked with both of these companies in the past when working with the bigger publishers. Their product is top-notch, and the pricing is fair. I could not recommend them highly enough. Tell ’em I sent you. They will have no idea who you are talking about, but it will make me feel good.


Edwards Brothers Malloy

More large-scale sources

Have a day that works for you, and get your brilliant stuff out there already.

Photo credit: © Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division LC-USW3- 009048-E, photographer: Collins, Marjory / Farm Security Administration


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