(by Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)
I share these tips for self-publishers as well as for competitors who need guidance on how to improve their craft for the good of all. Caughtcha!
1) Begin with clean hands and a clean surface. There is nothing more grotesque than seeing smudges on paper, be they from dirt or jelly donuts. I begin with a clean table cloth and clean hands washed with a standard bar of soap that will ensure no oily residue.
2) Fold no more than two sheets of paper at a time. It’s time-consuming but a crisp crease is important, and to fold too many is to increase the likelihood of ironing wrinkles into the pages. There is no undoing wrinkles except by reprinting pages.
3) Use top-quality staples in your saddle stapler. (You do have a saddle stapler, yes?) It sounds small, but get the “premium” staples, because there is no surer way to make a new book look instantly used than by pulling staples and restapling.
4) Use a heavy-duty paper cutter (you know, the ones that begin at $130). It’s a wise investment if many chapbooks will be made. It allows you to trim three or four books at a time without books sliding toward the blade, and without deep indentations on the top and bottom books as the cutter secures the stack.
5) Use top-quality paper. 16-lb copy paper encased in 65-lb cardstock looks as cheap as it is, so please do your words a favor by packaging them in a way that shows that your words deserve respect.
Okay, make that six tips. If you feel a bit intimidated or just don’t have the time, hire an experienced subsidy publisher to do it for you. It can cost less than all materials needed to begin.
We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet. We specialize in poetry.