Thursday, 3 March 2011


There're plenty of ways of getting a book made.

One is to construct a full-on publishing company with years of experience, an international reputation, and oak-panelled back rooms filled with old white men smoking and muttering about how publishing hasn't been the same since moveable type came along.

Alternatively, you can track down one of these shiny self-publishing companies, shower them with riches, post them all your stuff in a brown envelope and watch as they turn it into a book. This isn't a bad idea for this sort of project: you get plenty of control, and you get someone else handling some of the logistics in exchange for, well, money. And that's the problem: we're students, so we don't have money. Worse: we're postgraduate student writers. Point more than two ale taps at us and we might ask which one's cheapest.

Then there are small presses. Small presses are lovely things, and the modern world with all its electrickery and internet cleverness is making them more viable by the year. Sadly, they're also businesses, so they're unlikely to be terribly interested in a wonky little project like this that intends to give away a hefty proportion of its print run to agents and reviewers and whatnot.

Ideally what we want is a cross between a small press and a self-publishing company: our very own small press - a pet one that we keep in a hutch in the garden and let out to run around at the weekends. So we have made a small press. A very small press. In fact, it's a laptop, plus a few e-mail addresses belonging to people who happen to run printing companies.

Why this, then? Well, partly that aforementioned electrickery and internet cleverness. With a bit of publishing experience and some software there's nothing stopping a little project like this from cutting out all the middle-folk. Making a regular paperback book isn't necessarily that hard these days (unless you're a tree). It's fiddly and takes work, but the barriers to entry are surprisingly vaultable.

The advantages of this are that it saves cash, gives us complete control over the process, and, most of all, is kind of fun. Making books is cool. Not asymmetrical-haircut cool, and definitely not trendy brand-name cool, but geeky cool. And that's the best sort, isn't it? No, don't answer that.

The downsides are that this takes time and effort, and there's a horrible possibility that if it goes wrong I will end up sat on a street corner with a cardboard sign saying 'Will proofread for food' (I will anyway, by the way, particularly if the food is cake). Mainly the time and effort, though. And hell, I'm a student: it's not like I have anything better to do.

So self-self-publishing it is. Let's see how this goes.

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