Monday, January 24, 2011

So You Want To...Self-publish a Book

Ten years ago I self-published my first book, Bead Crochet Ropes. I had to use a traditional printer and order 5,000 copies of it. This month I self-published my third book, Triangular Bead Crochet Ropes, and used an internet print-on-demand service. What a difference ten years makes in technology.

Anyone can be an author and have a published title for very little cost today. It's not the printing, but the content that makes an attractive book. You can provide great craft ideas, however it takes a good editor and layout stylist to put those ideas into a professional format. My layout stylist didn't know anything about bead crochet. She did have a good idea of how people processed information and rearranged my information to fit that model. She also made sure I had standard structure and left lots of margin space. My editor checked grammar, spelling and standard usage. If beads were called out as 11/0, then the text needed to be 11/0 throughout the book. I could have edited my own work, but I tend to see what I think is there and another pair of eyes sees what is really there on a page.

Starting at the very beginning, you will need clear, clean photos at 300 dpi. They need to be sized for the space they are to occupy. Photoshop, or other photo editing software, can fix small things, but the original photo has to be sharply in focus. Graphics and/or illustrations should be created in a software package that will also give you a 300 dpi result. You want smooth lines, not jagged, pixilated illustrations. I use CorelDRAW, but there are other layout programs that will give you good results. Just remember that the final product will only be as good as all of the small pieces.

The last part is Adobe Acrobat or native layout software that can transfer all of your pages into a 300 dpi PDF format. Print-on-demand services need standard files that they can print from. What you upload to the service is exactly what gets printed. The ones that I investigated did have additional services that you could purchase to help with cover layouts or content. I spent 20 years in the printing industry, had a working knowledge of what I was doing, and didn't feel the need to pay for extra help.

My research narrowed print-on-demand services to two; Amazon & Lulu. Both pay decent royalties and appear to be relatively easy to use. You can order one or any number of your own book(s) at cost. You could set up a discount code for a craft store to order copies at wholesale. They really do print only the copies that a customer buys. The only reason I chose Amazon was that I already had 2 books with them and could take advantage of their huge customer base.

Judith Bertoglio-Giffin, international author, artist, designer, and teacher has been beading for over 25 years. She teaches beading workshops nationwide and online workshops with CraftEdu that include advanced bead crochet techniques. She emphasizes many of the creative approaches to the craft. Judith’s other beading passions are free-form peyote and bead embroidery.
“The journey of creation is as important as the finished piece.”

Online Workshops by Judith Bertoglio Giffin


  1. Thanks for this helpful article. I self-published 2 photography books a couple of years ago and had narrowed my choice down to lulu and blurb. I finally chose lulu, and was happy with the results. I also self-publish ebooks through lulu, which is very easy to do.

  2. Most helpful and informative post. Thank you!

  3. Thank you so much for writing about this! The information is incredibly helpful.