How to make a book, part one

Here is how I recently made a book. This is a hardcover book, and anyone can do it if you have a story to tell.

1. Write a story on the computer. Give it a title page. Print the title at font size 66, your name at 40, the bulk of the story at 22.

2. Copy, two pages on every sheet. I used standard American size paper 8.5 X 11 inches.

3. Cut the pages apart.

cut them apart

The font is now a normal-looking size for a book 8.5 inches tall.  The trick is to arrange the pages in small bundles, or signatures.  Each signature is made from two pieces of paper folded in half with one nested inside the other and two pages printed on each side, for a total of eight pages per signature. Look at any hardback and see that it’s not one large stack of pages, but several small signatures attached to the spine.

mockup, 2 sheets per signature

4. Make a tiny mockup of your book by bundling and stacking the signatures and then numbering the pages. The first four pages are blank, followed by the title page, then another blank, followed by page one, page two, etc. Please follow me: the first page is glued to the front cover; the second page is the blank inside of the front cover; the third & fourth page are the blank page of paper that separates the cover from the title page.  The title page appears on the right side of the book, and the next page is blank. After that, the story unfolds.  This is a recipe for eight pages per signature. It doesn’t matter how long your story is, the first signature can always be blank-blank-blank-blank-Title-blank-one-two.

Below is the mockup of my second signature, pages 3-10.

You can see the first sheet of paper, front & back, will have pages 3, 4, 9, 10, while the second sheet of paper will have pages 5, 6, 7, 8.  Do this for your whole story.

5. Tape the pages together as the mockup suggests, as seen below:

tape them together

6. Make double-sided copies onto heavy paper. Fold the full-sized sheets into signatures, as seen below:

copy onto heavy paper

Here are five signatures:

5 signatures

Join me for How to make a book, part two, when the signatures get sewn together in the Italian manner.

~ by Rick on December 3, 2012.

5 Responses to “How to make a book, part one”

  1. How would you recommend the “come up with a story to tell” part? Live a life of derring-do?

  2. I sort of glossed over that part, didn’t I. I always wanted to write a Lovecraft parody, and finally sat down and did it. But maybe that’s easier, because I had a style to copy, and I kept editing the thing, saying to myself, “More adjectives!”

  3. You do kind of skirt over the hardest part right at the beginning there. But perhaps that’s the attitude you need. Write a story, any story.

  4. Here’s an idea for a story: rewrite Moby Dick from the whale’s point of view.

  5. Ok, but first I’m gonna have to go method-acting style, and get into the mind of a whale.

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