Publishing a Doujinshi, Part One

April 13th, 2004

Part One

AniLesboCon (ALC) Publishing was born in 2003 with the mission of creating and disseminating high-quality yuri manga (that is, Japanese-style comics with lesbian images and stories) in English.

Last year we published two books: Yuri Monogatari 1, a compilation of nine yuri stories by thirteen artists and writers from seven different countries and; Rica ‘tte Kanji!?, a translation from the Japanese version of the sweet and funny stories of Rica and her girlfriend Miho, by Rica Takashima.

This year, ALC is proud to announce the publication of WORKS by Eriko Tadeno, which now on sale at the Yuricon Shop.

Even as I type, we are also working on this year’s volume of Yuri Monogatari, which is slated for a summer release – and for the fall, Volume 1 of Shoujoai ni Bouken: The Adventures of Yuriko, with illustrations.

So, after three books under my belt, and two more in the making, and as several folks have asked me for advice about this, I thought I’d walk you through the process of publishing your own doujinshi.

Doujinshi is Japanese for a work put together by a like-minded group of people…i.e., a fan work. In other words, a doujinshi is a self-published, or small-press published work. There are many, many groups of people doing this in the American comics field, and several good small comics presses extant. You may want to get in touch with them for their advice, if you want to do American-style comics. I’ll be focusing on Japanese-style doujinshi, with a strong emphasis on the kinds of things you might see at Comiket (Comic Market) in Tokyo.

Let me start by saying this: This is work. Like anything else, if you want your publication to look good, you’ll need either a lot of time, energy and money to put into this, or a stable of friends and employees to help. Both is best.  ^_^

First you need to decide what *kind* of doujinshi you are going to be making. Today’s entry will be some thoughts about the things you need to think about before you begin.

On the cheap/easy end of the scale is something called a copy book. This is basically xeroxed pages folded together and stapled, with *maybe* a color copy cover. You can format the pages easily in any graphics program, import them as images into Word, or some other common word processing program – or even copy them directly and cut and tape the pages together in the order you want, then run the pages through a copy machine at work or school. The color copy page is folded and stapled on and you’re good to go.

If you choose a copy book then your costs are going to primarily be: time, for formatting and; materials, for copying. You might have paper costs and ink, if you’re doing this at home, and a saddle stapler will be helpful. If you want to spend a little more money and want it to look nice, you can go to a copy center and have them do it – saves time, costs more. If you’re like me, you can steal both time and materials from work and only have to be careful about doing it out of sight of your supervisor. ;-)

Any type other than a copy book is going to require binding of *some* kind. If you plan on stapling, or having your book spiral bound, then you can go to a copy center. If you plan on making something with a flat spine (called perfect binding) you’ll need to talk to a real print shop. If your book is more than 50 pages, perfect binding looks *much* nicer and more professional – it also costs a lot more.

Unless you want a hard cover book, you’re going to want to look at card stock of varying weights or perhaps textured paper, also of various weights. Weight indicates how thick and heavy (duh) the paper is. I wouldn’t swear to it, but my guess is that a paper’s weight is based on how heavy a standard amount of that paper is… i.e., 20 lb. weight paper (which is standard copy machine paper) would weigh 20 lbs. for a ream, or 1000 pages, or whatever the standard amount of pages is, while 24 lb. paper weighs more for the same number of pages.

Paper will give the book a soft, flexible body, card stock will give it strength and solidity. And of course, your budget will dictate what you can use. If you’re trying to do this on the cheap, a lightweight textured paper, or pale-colored paper can probably go through any home printer and come out looking good…. You can get paper from any paper seller, on- or off-line, for cheaper than buying it at an office supply place, or buying it through a printer. Stationery, art, scrapbook, craft stores have small amounts of different papers you can experiment with to see what works for you.

Okay, next – book size. This is a REALLY important choice, because it will make a difference as to how easy it will be to print and bind. And you’ll need to know it for your page layout, too (that will come later, but you NEED to know before you start what size you’re going to use.)

The standard size in the U.S. for paper is 8.5″ x 11″. We and Canada are just about the only countries in the world that uses this as a standard size. ^_^

If you are making a copy book, then you can just assume you’re folding a standard sheet of paper in half, so each page is 5.5″ x 8.5″. Or, conversely, you’ll be printing on 11″ x 17″ pages and folding *them* in half, so you’ll have a book that is 8.5″ x 11″.

If you truly desire to publish a doujinshi-style book, then your book will probably be one of several sizes, both of which are international standards, but almost never used in the U.S. The usual paperback-sized doujinshi are A5, although you can find doujinshi in all ISO sizes under the sun.

A5 is technically 148mm x 210mm, but in U.S. measurements it’s slightly harder to render: 5.83 x 8.27 inches. Stick with metric, if you can, when setting up your parameters.

If you choose one of the other international sizes, remember this – chances are, your printer (hardware and/or person) will not have ISO size paper to hand, so if your chosen size is bigger than the normal 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, you’ll be paying for very big paper, which will have to be cut down. A5 can be cut down from a standard sheet and is a nice size to read from, IMHO…that’s what ALC Publishing uses. B5 is also common for doujinshi (182 mm, 257 mm/ 7″ x 9-7/8″) and so is A4 (210 x 297 / 8-1/4″ x 11-3/4″), but A4 is larger than our standard page – remember, bigger paper means more expensive.

One last consideration before you start…the paper you will print on should be heavy – i.e., thick – enough to not have art show through when you print it out. Unless you’ve got light strokes and no heavy black areas, regular copy paper won’t be thick enough.

Okay…that’s enough for today. Tomorrow, I’ll depress you with the list of equipment you’ll need. ^_^

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