For those who missed my previous ten tips, click on article 2 of 3 after reading this one.
I’ll conclude at fifteen tips (lest I give my competitors too many of my trade secrets and I like the number 15) but for those of you who insist on self-publishing, I hope that my suggestions help you along your journey toward chapbook perfection for the sake of your perfect words.
1) Begin with clean hands and a clean surface. (Wait! I already said this.) I cannot stress it enough: wash your hands with non-oily soap and be certain that there is no fuzz on a cloth-covered table, or no dust or ink residue on wood and other such surfaces. You don’t want your product to look like it was made in a dingy factory.
2) Vertical spacing is important. It sounds like common sense and it’s all a matter of preference, but you don’t want more space between your title and the top edge than you have at the bottom, and you don’t want your title floating away from the text, and you don’t want your page numbers to take center stage. Study a few quality books with your eyes and note what you like.
3) Watch page numbers as you collate and fold. Be in the present tense. Even perfect chapbook-makers can get a page turned the wrong direction or have the same two pages printed twice on one sheet of paper (etc.), so make a habit of watching carefully. The wrong page in the wrong place is a nightmare that I expect to never see again.
4) Make friends with your stapler and cutter. It takes time to learn exactly where the staples will land and how to “roll” the chapbook on the saddle to get it perfect, and it takes time to learn the nuances of your cutter. When you learn these things, your comfort will result in accurate speed.
5) Consider unique finishing touches that make your chapbook “gifty.” It’s sort of like decorating a room. You can keep it simple and not challenge viewers’ expectations, or you can take bold chances and make striking impressions. And on that note, my husband and I are expanding our micro-publishing services to include chapbooks as Deluxe Edition gift books! Yes, small and simple is going deluxe with special touches that take chapbooks to a higher level. We’ll keep you posted here and at Middle Island Press.
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