TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.

How to self-publish a book

How to self-publish a book

Write a story. A fiction piece. Stop telling yourself you don't know how to write fiction. You aren't sure if the story is good or if it's gone off the rails. Spend months and months editing the story. Keep wondering if it is good. Keep editing it. Eventually get tired of editing. Stop wondering if the story is any good. Trust in your abilities and your peers.

Layout book in InDesign. Learn by asking questions and trial and error.

Purchase cover-weight and text-weight paper. Text-weight paper is just a fancy word for regular paper. This paper cannot be purchased at a place like Office Depot, only at out of the way art stores or industrial paper warehouses open at inconvenient hours.

Ask an artist friend to create a cover illustration. Have artist submit sketches, work with artist to pick one. Discover new aspects to your work. Pay artist. Don't blink at the price. They are your friend, you recognize that they are an artist and their time is valuable.

Cut down cover paper with industrial cutter. Try not to think about cutting off your fingers.

Use Illustrator to layout cover. Learn by asking questions and trial and error. Print illustration on covers.

Set type to letterpress title on cover. Adjust pins in machine to position cover. Adjust pins in machine to position cover. Adjust pins in machine to position cover. Adjust pins in machine to position cover. Print the title on all 22 covers.

Decide to perfect bind your book. Redo the layout in InDesign because the margins aren't set correctly to be perfect bound.

Forget special paper at home. Bus home to get it. Realize don't have your key and you are locked out of your house. Bus back home again later with key. Wonder if you need to be a functioning adult to print a book.

Print out 22 copies of the text. Forget to set the text to collate. Collate 22 copies of the book by hand. Cut the text before binding because the text paper isn't the same size as the cover and it's nearly impossible to get it to bind right if they aren't the same size. Forget to flip paper in the industrial cutter and destroy seven copies of your text.

Run out of time and go home for the night.

Find a typo. Reprint all the pages. Find a layout problem created by fixing typos. Realize you didn't need to reprint the whole book and waste the rest of your paper. Have a meltdown. Cry it out for a minute and then move on with saving your project.

Combine the correct parts of both copies into one new text. Decide that’s good enough and hope you didn’t mess up the page order. Settle for printing less books than you wanted.

Bind four mockup books correctly. Start on binding actual book. Destroy  two books because the text was inserted backwards during binding. Bind one book without a cover. Finish binding.

Find three books with a single backwards page. It's the page you corrected the typos on. Tear page out because it's just the acknowledgements and not the actual story. Plan to give them to your family.

Trim the edges of bound books. Stop measuring the cuts because you're an expert at this machine now.

End up with nine perfect books, and three that have a missing acknowledgement page.

Turn in one book to your teacher. Give one book to someone close to you who understands how much work went into this book because you called them every time something went wrong. End up with seven perfect books. Try to figure out how much they are worth and then think about trying to convince seven stranger to buy them at a reading coming up.

Go to sleep exhausted.

Wake up feeling better about your life. You published a book. And now that you've fucked up every possible aspect of making printing it you know it will be easier the second time. Plan to buy new paper and start again.

Is Susan Sontag my spirit animal?

Is Susan Sontag my spirit animal?

Sidekick works on 'Sidekicks'

Sidekick works on 'Sidekicks'