cheapass guide to publishing a book – First Fit

I ‘pulled the trigger’ on the WitchCraft at Andover book today. If I had my laptop back I would have gotten it done last week easy. In fact I think it was the fastest publication I have done. I was cruising through the 600 page parent book and found this chapter and said ‘hey, lets make a book with the word witchcraft in the title.’

I also pulled the trigger —— meaning the book is already uploaded and proofed on the website, i just made it LIVE, so it can be bought —— on the Abbot Academy Diary – that’s the one with all the embedded illustrations that was making me crazy…this time i just inserted them in the simplest way possible and it all worked fine. Sometimes i just need to get out of my way.

Among the things i have been meaning to do is detail the process. I need to do this for the book on non profits cheapass guide to the internet, so i may as well start with what i know. right?

Buckle up, I’m gonna write this in the simplest manner possible.

1 •  GET YOUR TEXT –  If you are writing it, then FINISH writing it before you start anything.    If  you have completed text, mazel tov.   If you are using something produced by running Optical Character or Voice Recognition software, you will need to go over that carefully and correct it against the ORIGINAL page.  FIND the Original Page..find a PDF, buy the book or get the book from the library, but don’t believe the machine!  Computers are STUPID, and don’t speak or read English, they are basically babies guessing about shapes. If you are transcribing something from another sources – don’t stop to edit, just type and get it on the page, otherwise you are going to get sick of it very fast.  Just keep typing and you will get it to a stage where it will be just like a computer created text file.


2 • PROOF READ YOUR TEXT –  even if it’s your own.  AND  if it’s YOUR text, have someone else proof it…someone who isn’t trying to please you. Someone who wants to find every mistake and shove it in your face….try an ex-significant other if you are still speaking, or someone who thinks they are smarter than you and that you have no business writing a book.  Just remember you are using them to get something you normally have to pay for, and they get to lord your mistakes over you in exchange.

If it is NOT your text, try not read it too closely before you proof read it, that way the words are still relatively fresh and new and you can read it slowly and carefully.  If you have already read it 8 times, your brain is sick of it and won’t see the missing commas.

USE MS WORD or the equivalent, use their stupid annoying spell check and grammar check and any other automated tool you can switch on.  Consider each suggestion one at a time, and make your own decisions, only globally change things when you are SURE of the outcome.  Like when you have been typing  “thier” instead of “their” all the way through.  Global change is a dangerous weapon and sometimes you can make a mess you can’t recover from…30 years of typing on machines with global replace, and i still don’t use it that much.


3 •  FIND YOUR COVER – look at book covers, which one make you pick them up and examine them? that’s the kind of cover you need. Bright Colors,  elegant illustrations, Clean Clear Type, the fewer words the better.  You don’t want to combine words with very busy illustrations, save your words for the back and the websites. Use your own photos or illustrations if you can, it will be unique, you own it and can shoot exactly what you need.  Get the dimensions from the website.  You should be able to make a simple cover and back cover files using Photoshop or any Image editing program. has a cover building application on the site, you can use their design, font and illustrations or you can use YOUR illustration with their design or your can upload YOUR front and back covers, or you can upload your own wrap around cover.  Chose your skill level, and RELAX, it can ALWAYS be changed, EVEN after it has been published YOU CAN CORRECT OR CHANGE nearly everything.  THIS is the benefit of this form of publishing.  

4. PREP YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS – Your images need to be 300 DPI to appear properly inside your book.  If you are scanning it from another sources, scan it HIGHER than you need, twice will be fine.  Then when you make your adjustments in Photoshop or your Image program, and you save it DOWN to the size you need and it will look better.   IF you are scanning images from a printed source…look closely…see those dots? those are HALF TONE DOTS and you have to really get rid of them before you can use the image. Because  the image will be broken down into MORE half tone dots when it goes to print and that looks AWFUL. So avoid using images recovered from other books unless they are very dense and you can make the half tone dots fade.  DON’T USE LOW RES IMAGES FROM THE INTERNET PERIOD – the online service will just keep flagging the image making you change it.    You can find LARGER Resolution images on the net but even if you save it at 300dpi, the image information just isn’t there.

5 • COMBINE THE WORDS AND THE IMAGES –  you can actually produce a decent book file with MS WORD, many many people do.  But any decent Layout software will do it better: MS Publisher, old faithful – Adobe Pagemaker, Adobe InDesign is the new expensive software.  You SHOULD save your file as a PDF with all the fonts embedded properly, the person who owns the software should already have it set up.  WORD should be able to do it, even if you PRINT to PDF as a selection.   But you can find online apps, that will let you upload files in several formats and convert them TO PDFs.  Portable Document Format is a universal and stable way to send files to other people.  Think of them like the manila folders of the internet.  You shove all the pieces in so they all stay together the way you want them to appear on the other side.

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.  Wrapping the text around the illustrations is tricky, and unless you intend to do it a lot and get skilled, then don’t bother; don’t fear the white space around your illustrations.  The one book I have done with pen and ink illustrations wrapped by text was a pain in the ass, and in the end it looked better when I did less to it.    For the most part if you have a photo that’s one page or a half a page.

5.5 • MAKE BACKUPS – I usually have THREE going in case the computer or software crashes and corrupts the file I am working on.


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