Publishing your own book can seem like a
formidable task but doesn't have to be so.
I started this search because I wanted to publish my webpage, Parachute of Jesus
( www.detailshere.com/parachute.htm ) , into a booklet I could hand out for free. In
order to do that production costs had to be cheap and printing costs also had to be
cheap. First understand there is a difference between a publisher and a printer.
Publishers, such as Abbott Press and Balboa
Press, are going to try and get into your
wallet. They'll want up to $2k or better to format your book before it can even be printed,
will only give you a 50-60% discount on the book from the list price they slap on it, and
between them and ebay or amazon.com or other outlets they set up and paypal; most of
the profit from sales of your book will flow into other people's pockets except yours. The
best prices per copy for a 5.5" x 8.5", paperback, 128 page book for 500 copies, I could
get from a publisher for my own use was still over $5/copy.
Enter the printers such as
www.diggypod.com or www.selfpublishing.com
With diggypod you have to format your own book into a .pdf printable master. You give
them the .pdf master and they make you the book and send you the copies. But it's cheap.
For 500 books my copies all of a sudden came down to under $2.50; $2.22 for 1000 copies.
And there's virtually no setup and layout costs; $40 for a single proof copy if you want one.
SelfPublishing.com is not as cheap as diggypod (copies are about the same cost) but a whole
lot cheaper than the publishers. They also will do the layout for you at a reasonable cost but there
is no reason to spend that. I'll tell you what to do here. Self Publishing.com also has the caveat that
for $149 they will market your book for you. Now you aren't going to get a lot of profit per book
after they and amazon.com and paypal get their fingers in the pie; but you will reach customers
you could not on your own. These marketed books are printed one at a time as they are ordered
so per book cost is higher. And you don't have to handle the books; just receive the pittance you
get for them. Read the tutorials at both diggypod and self publishing for what needs
to be in your book; copyright page, preface, forward, acknowledgments, chapter index, etc.
Putting your word document into .pdf format
Here's the easy part believe it or not. Basically you make a word document of your book and
then transform it into a .pdf using cutepdf . Download free cutepdf from
http://www.cutepdf.com/Products/CutePDF/writer.asp , run it (install it) . Open up your word
document, click print, but instead of selecting the printer from the menu select cutePDF, select
where you want to store it, and bingo you now have your document in a .pdf .
You need a separate .pdf for the cover pages,
front and back, as well as for the text in between
the covers. That's two .pdf's. They do the print for the spine which is the end of the book you
would normally see as it sits on a shelf that contains only the title and author's name.
Choosing a font
You can spend a few hours on this one. I agonized over Verdana12, Arial 12, and Tahoma12
for readability and size of letters. I ended up choosing Verdana12 because the letter size was
slightly greater than arial or tahoma. Garamond was recommended as a book publishing typeface
but I didn't like it. Keep it simple and readable instead of fancy makes sense to me.
Setting up word
The tricky part is setting up microsoft word so it formats the text of the book correctly. Neither
diggypod nor self publishing have the whole story, probably in an attempt to get you to use their
design service, but between the two of them all the directions you need are there. It's working
well and it's easy. Below are the directions I used for my book which is a 5.5" x 8.5" paper back.
A video for part of this can be found at https://www.diggypod.com/tutorial-videos.html .
Instructions for the rest of it can be found at http://www.selfpublishing.com/design/production-center/articles/ms-word/ download
the .pdf file there called Typesetting in Microsoft Word by Jack M. Lyon.
But here are all the directions you need.
Open up microsoft word.
One of the keys in using Word for typography is to change a few of its
little-known options. Most important is the option to make word spacing in
justified text contract as well as expand. This will greatly improve the look of
your type. To use it:
1. Click the “Tools” menu. On a Macintosh, click “Edit.”
2. Click “Options.” On a Macintosh, click “Preferences.”
3. Click the “Compatibility” tab.
4. Put a check next to the option labeled “Do full justification like
WordPerfect 6.x for Windows.”
The resulting type may not always justify correctly on a Macintosh, so be
While you’re looking at the “Compatibility” tab, put a check next to
“Don’t expand character spaces on the line ending Shift-Return.” Then if you
break a line with a soft return (SHIFT + ENTER), the line will still be properly
I also recommend using the following options:
• Don’t center “exact line height” lines.
• Don’t add extra space for raised/lowered characters.
• Suppress “Space Before” after a hard page or column break.
When you’re finished, click OK.
Finally, turn on automatic hyphenation in the document you want to
1. Click Tools > Language > Hyphenation.
2. Check the box labeled “Automatically hyphenate document.”
3. Set “Hyphenation zone” to about half an inch or the equivalent.
4. Set “Limit consecutive hyphens” to 3.
5. Click the OK button.
Even after you’ve set these options, justification may not look quite right
on your screen, especially at the ends of lines, since Word doesn’t render
everything perfectly. When you print your document, however, you’ll see the
justified text in all its glory.
Next we need to set page details - this part comes from the video at www.diggypod.com
Open your word document again - select page setup
at bottom select custom margins
set multiple pages to mirror margins as the left page and right page have a larger
margin in the middle where the binding is.
top and bottom margin .5"
inside margin .8" (where the binding is)
When making a separate .pdf for your cover pages use .5 here as there won't be a
mirror facing page for either cover page or back page.
outside margin .5
gutter value 0
set page to portait view (up and down)
apply to whole document
Go back to the top under "layout"
choose 5.5 x 8.5
apply settings to whole document
Do a "save as" and save document to a new file name.
You're done, ready to start loading pages
Word of advice.
When running my heating business I used Adobe Pagemaker almost exclusively
for any ads, estimates, text letters, brochures, etc because it was easy to use and stable.
I hated using word because it has a mind of it's own. It will change fonts on you, change
layout, put indents where you don't want them, change all kinds of things that you swear
you didn't touch. Nothing is more frustrating than making a long document only to have
things appear that shouldn't and have to go back and reformat a bunch of stuff. What I do
when working with word is save the document periodically and make a copy and rename
the copy. I work with the copy until I have made enough progress that it's time to save it
again and make a new copy of it and work with the new copy. Then when you get one of
those word surprises that will require a lot of work to fix, you can go back to the last good
copy, make a copy of that and only have to fix what got messed up from then forward.
And you can say maybe I should just learn how to use word properly but don't say you
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