Why to do it?

            You may think that your manuscript can become a success, and you are fed up with rejections. You can test your belief in the excellence of your writing without risking a lot of money. A small number of professional looking books can be published by yourself, at a very low cost, thus you can test your talent and promotional skills. Do it yourself publishing implies that you don’t need to buy any fancy publishing program, only a personal computer (PC) with a word processor. You don’t even need a printer, for you can give your book on a diskette to the printing company. Whether you already wrote the published material or just begin to write it, you need to setup and format your pages to be suitable for a book.

       This presentation is not about ‘vanity publishing,’ which is misleadingly advertised as ‘self-publishing’. Vanity publishers promise publicity and other attractive services, and charge 5 to $10,000.00 for 500 hard-covered books. Most authors end up storing piles of unsold books.

Even ‘Print on Demand,’ POD, the newest electronic publishing method costs a minimum $1,500.00 for setup the service, and you only get a few sample books. They advertise services, such as publicity, order processing, packaging, delivery, administration of payments, and 25% to 75% of the profit, your royalty, after every sale. POD appears to be a relatively low cost service, if the firm has resources to do the promotion, and the other hard tasks for you, but I did not yet come across success stories.

Don’t be frustrated by dozens of rejections. Your unpublished bestseller can become a literary and/or a commercial success, if you learn from a few motivating examples.

Robert James Waller placed his literary masterpiece, The Bridges Of Madison Countyã, on consignment, on the shelves of small bookstores. He guaranteed to buy back unsold books. But he never had to; the public loved the book, which became a best seller, turned into a movie, staring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

A Canadian writer, David Chilton’s book, The Whealthy Barber; Everyone’s Common Sense Guide to become Financially Independentã, 1966, sold 1M copies—second to the bible, in this country—and 2 million in the USA.

The Celestine Prophesyã, by James Redfield, an unknown author, was ignored by publishers. But, his self-published book was recognized by Joanne Davis, an editor of Warner, which paid $US800,000.00 for the publishing rights. The book was on the Publishers Weekly’s best seller list for 64 weeks.

Chicken Soup for the Soulã, by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, was published by themselves. They organized book launchings in small bookstores, and promoted their book through radio interviews. The publication became a bestseller. There are other success stories on the Internet. See   and  You may become a bestseller if you follow these examples.

I tested my talent and the marketing potential of several of my books by relying on computerized duplicating facilities, with ‘perfect binding’ service. I wrote my manuscripts on my personal computer, PC, using a Microsoft’s Word Processor, WP. I then took my pages to a duplicating service, ordered only 10 or 20 books, and paid 2 to $400.00, less than $20.00 book for a trial run. A production of 50 books or more would reduce the price to 8 to $10.00 each. Prices vary with the number of pages and specifications. You may become a best seller if you follow the examples of the authors referenced earlier.

I presume that you have a PC with a good WP program, and you can setup and format your pages. I will explain three different ‘do it yourself’ methods.

1.  The simplest method is to print your manuscript (MSS) on 11” x 8.5” sheets with settings: 1” margins, 1” gutter—a space in the centre required for binding—click mirror image, and #14 font size, instead the usual #12. The larger font is necessary, because your originals will have to be reduced to half size, into 8.5” x 5.5”, book pages. This is to halve your cost.

First, prepare the covers of the book, and if you know how, make or copy some graphics to the front. If you have appreciative critiques, type their comments on the back cover, and show the ISBN registration (I will explain how to get these) in its ‘footer.’ The first page after the cover should have the copyright and ISBN registration, the publication data, and publishing date (I will explain how to get these.) The following pages should have your Acknowledgments—if you have any—the Table of Contents, and Introduction. Use a commercially published book as an example, for the layout of these front and back pages. If you do not wish to disclose your name as being the publisher, rent a post office box, and choose a publishing name. In the trial run, have an order page in your book.

As explained before, each typed sheet must be reduced to half-size on a duplicating machine, twice. Bind the two identical copies of each reduced sized page together, side by side with a clear tape. This saves money because you will get two sets of books from one stack of 11” x 8.5” sheets.

After the taped 8.5”X11” duplicate sheets are reduced to 5.5”X11” book size, make half as many duplicates as the odd pages. The finished sheets have to be cut along the centre to yield twice as many books as the number of duplications you made. These pages will be bound into the cover.

However, doing the taping by hand is time consuming and inefficient. A better method is described in the 3rd method. A computerized duplicating service will do copying and collating automatically. It will shear the pages, print your name and title of the book on the cover page and on the ‘spine’ of the book, including the ISBN registration—as large publishers do.

2.  Another ‘do it yourself’ method relies on the computer’s versatility. You will have to change the ‘Page Setup’ in the File menu into ‘landscape’ mode, and the Print menu settings to have two 8.5” x 5.5” book-size pages on standard 11” x 8.5” sheets. This time there is no need to set larger font sizes, New Times Roman #12 fonts will do. The margins should be set approximately 0.5” throughout the document, set ‘mirror image’ and ‘gutter’ 0.5”. The ‘Properties’ of your ‘Print’ menu—shown usually on tabs—have to be set in  ‘Landscape’ and ‘Print Book’ mode. First, print the odd pages only, and in the next run print the even pages. Take time to find the right settings on the particular WP program and printer you are using. Your goal remains the same that is to produce two sets of identical 8.5” x 5.5” pages on each 11” x 8.5” sheet, this yields two books, thus halving your cost of paper.

After producing the odd pages, your printer will prompt you to remove the bundle of sheets and show you how to place it into the default tray to print the even pages on the yet clear half side of the sheets. The printing has to be repeated to obtain two sets of identical pages. As previously, the standard sheets have to be cut into halves and each pair of identical 8.5” x 5.5” odd and even pages have to be taped together by a clear tape. The taped 11” x 8.5” sheets can be taken to a computerized duplicating service, which will produce two books from one stack, as it was explained earlier.

3.  The third, and easiest, method is to type your manuscript with your default MSS ‘page setup’ as explained in the first method. None of the duplicating, cutting, and taping reduced size pages is necessary. When your work is completed, save your MSS or copy it to a diskette. A computerized full-service firm can convert your portrait pages on the diskette into two sets of identical 8.5’ x 5.5” pages, side by side, in landscape layout on 11’ x 8.5” sheets. The end result will be the same as before, but without any manual drudgery. This automation may cost an additional $2.00 per book in a small trial run and much less over a 50-book production.


Protecting your work. Publications are copyright protected without an official registration. You can adopt the text of copyright protection from a book of any large publisher. But if you want to feel more secure, register your work with the Client Service Centre, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Industry Canada, Place Du Portage I, 50 Victoria Street, Room C-229, 2nd Floor, Hull, Quebec. K1A 0C9. See more information on the Internet at URL <> or write an email to <[email protected]> The current fee (2002) for application is $65.00. Save money and claim copyright protection only after your trial run production becomes a proven success, and then apply for registration. 

     The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) identifies the publisher and classifies the media and the category of a publication. In Canada, this service is free. Application forms can be requested from the Canadian ISBN Agency, National Library of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0N4. Or get information by e-mail via <[email protected]> or through the Internet at <> 

Most publishers have a bar-code printed on the back cover of their books in addition to the ISBN digits. Bar-codes provide more information, but they are prepared and sold by private businesses. Your printer knows how to do it and for a fee of about $60,00 he will get it and print the bar code. But you don’t need a bar code for your trial run. However, when you apply for copyright, you are required to send two sample books with bar codes to the National Library of Canada.