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Self Publishing at a Glance
Okay – no prospective publisher – no monetary assist from the Diamondhead Property Owners Association – and not much loose money in my pocket. What do I do?
Without a planned budget – of which I saw no need – I went about seeking printing prices by visiting print shops with my manuscript and cover graphics in hand. There were not many available opportunities in the adjoining small towns, but I found a printer in nearby Biloxi who gave me two separate pricings – one for the cover and binding costs – the other for the book copy prints – each in various volume counts. I was being trapped into the Printer's Game of it's “cheaper by the dozen.” In other words, the difference between quantity prints of 2000 and 3000 was somewhat negligible due to the initial set-up charges.
Armed with those costs, I called a number of printers in New Orleans and in Mobile, but none were anxious for my business. I finally received a lead on a new commercial department being created in a Kinko's outlet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It so happened that the salesman was interested in making contacts with Gulf Coast printing shops to whom he hoped to offer discounted prices for work that they could form out. I explained that I would like to know more about the program and that I would share with him the list of local printer contacts that I had developed.
Long story short – Kinko's in Baton Rouge had special Docutek print equipment that performed volume production, which afforded reduced pricing. Using their system would cost me the same per book if I was printing 3000, or a run of only 500 – thus, no “cheaper by the dozen” concept. This solved the printing of my text pages – but not book binding since I was already convinced that I wanted to use the Perfect Bind process rather than the Spiral Bind as offered by Kinko's.
To accomplish “Perfect Bind,” an 8½x11 inch double-fold cover is printed on an 11x17 inch sheet. With a color photograph on the front cover and one on the back cover, requiring four-color-separation process, which I won't explain herein, but is a one-time cost much like paying for a dye-cut mold to produce medallions or any ornamental souvenir button. The cost of this process is several hundred dollars for each photograph regardless of size. Then, the printer has color printing charges which is more expensive than black and white printing. This resulted in my getting 2000 covers printed which was actually the same cost to me if I had only gotten 500 printed – or I could pay a few bucks more to get 3000 printed. I settled on the cost of 2000 prints, which cost me $1200 by 1995 pricings. I made arrangements to pay him $500 down with the rest to be paid out as I made book sales and the nice printer-man accepted. (It took me a year to pay off the balance.)
I won't digress further – I then had print prices for covers and separate print prices for books. Next, I had to see how Kinko's was going to handle “cut and pasting” of photographs and place other graphics into my printed text, for which, I allowed measured spaces or “holes” throughout my text pages for photograph insertions. I had negotiated with Kinko's for a one-time set-up charge per book of $2 per page. This included their copying each page of text and copying and cropping each graphic representation to fit in each space or “hole” that I had provided for in my manuscript. (See Sample page -- where you see photos -- I allowed spaces to be filled by the Kinko operator.)
At that time, the computer and word processor that I was using was limited to setting margins for which I provided space for “side-bar information” and photographs. Within the main body of text, I had to count line spacings to accommodate the predetermined height for 5-inch or 7-inch-wide “holes” that I allowed for photograph inserts by the Kinko operator. This was my cut and paste method. My main text area was 5-inches-wide using Times Roman 12 point font. My side-bar was a column width of 2½-inches that allowed for smaller graphics with captions and miscellaneous information which I printed out separately in Times Roman 11 point font. Within that space, I cut and pasted-in a sample page before submitting to the printer. As you can surmise, there was quite a bit of "to and fro" of pages being edited and re-edited.
Some of you, particularly those who are simply using text with no inclusion of photographs or graphics such as maps or tables, etc., will find the above process quite unnecessary. Further, I don't wish to belabor such “cut and paste” preparation since current technology of hardware and software has made the process so much simpler. In fact, some of you may prefer to jump to later chapters of my list of tomes. My intention is to continue updating this website both with my personal growth and desire to produce less expensive books and hopefully to stimulate others to share their experiences with you.