Publishing a Doujinshi, Part Four

April 21st, 2004

Part 4

The Final Part (In one sense.)

Okay – you have your graphics files all ready to go. Perhaps you don’t have/can’t afford a publishing program but still want to create a doujinshi. Can you?

Of course you can.

It will take a little longer, because someone still has to do that layout and distillation and if it ain’t you, that means the printer will have to. And *that* means that you’ll have to explain to them what you want, and how you want it, etc, etc.

So, let’s for the moment, assume that you have a CD burned of your publication, in PDF form. You bring it to the printers and you explain that you want X number of copies, and that you want X lb. paper, and Y type of cover. Then you hand it to them and give them a date you need it by. Request a job estimate with those parameters and get it in writing!

The more copies you print, the less expensive your run is per copy. So, if I print 200 copies of my book, each copy may cost $6, for a total of $1200, but if I print 500 copies, each copy may cost $3.50 for a total of $1750. I can sell the second printing for less and still make back the money and then some. These are just made-up numbers – the actual cost will depend on the weight of the paper, the cover stock, how many pages, any extra work the printers put in, etc.

Finding a printer than will do a small run isn’t easy, but don’t get discouraged, they are out there. Using a local printer is a very good idea, because you can run back and forth easily to pick up proofs, deliver corrected pages and to communicate with them face to face. This last is crucial when you are trying to explain the way the book should look.

Remember, your printer doesn’t usually print this kind of thing, so you may need to talk things over with him/her. If you’re doing a Japanese-style doujinshi, you’ll need to convince the printer that the pages are in the right order – please don’t flip them – and that the cover art is labeled correctly, because it will be read “backwards.”

You may, at this point, be tempted to give the printer plenty of time to work on your book – do NOT do this. Printers work on rush jobs all day long for many clients. If you give them too much time, your job will disappear to the bottom of the pile and be forgotten.

So, when you are budgeting your time, give the PDF to the printer at least two weeks before you need it. Minimum. Then tell them you need it in four days. I’m not kidding. This way, when they don’t make the deadline, and it’s a day and half late, you still have a day clearance on the original deadline. You WILL need this extra time, so don’t think you’re being unrealistic.

A proof is the copy of the manuscript that is printed by the printer for you to look over. Also called, I believe, a “blue” in book publishing. Take the proof home and read it very carefully. Do not read the story – look at the words, the pictures, etc. for problems.

If you have an Ed in your life, hand a copy of the proof over to him, again, and let him edit it, again. Anyone else you can rely on for this is good, too. Remember, you cannot ever have too many people to proof or copy edit your book!

If you were the one who made the PDF, at this point, unless a virtual miracle occurred, you’ll need to make some corrections to your document. Remember – you can’t change a PDF. You’ll need to reopen the publishing program and make the changes there, then redistill it – or make the changes on the graphics files and send those to the printer. (In newer versions of Acrobat, you edit directly in the PDF.) Either way, once the changes get to the printer, make SURE you get another proof copy, to make sure that the changes have been made. You may have to do this several times, as you find new and exciting problems. Each time the printer will take a little while to run off the new proof. More days pass.

If there are problems from the printer’s side – a line through the page, the quality of the reproduction isn’t good – don’t be nice. Be firm. Point out the problem, expect it to be fixed. Don’t expect the printer to find the problems for you – they won’t. They don’t care. And if page 50 has a black line running through the middle of it and you don’t catch it – the printer won’t fix it for you, even if s/he does catch it, because it’s not her/his job. (I exclude Sally from Trukmanns from this – she *did* catch and fix several things on our last job. But she was unusual in this.)

At last, you will pass a proof…time will be running out, though and you must continue to express urgency, because I swear to every god I believe in that printers do NOT manage time as do other humans. The printer will eventually send out the job to the binder. Make sure you get a good look at the cover before you send it to the bindery, because that too will have issues and you will need to fix things and make sure the printer is printing the fornt and back cover correctly – not to mention the spine, which may have art of its own. When everything is sent to the binder, you’ve basically gone too far to turn around, so everything has to be as right as possible.

When your books are done, do not expect the printer to call, even if they say they will. Again, give the printer a few days too little, so when they blow the first printing (and they will – there will be issues with the cover flaking, or cracking, or not working) there is still time to get the book before you actually need it.

When you pick up the book, before you go anywhere, check it thoroughly from cover to cover, to make sure that they printed it exactly the way you wanted it. If there are any mistakes you had corrected already, but for some reason were not changed, get the manager and demand a discount on the final product – or a reprint with the changes. Be polite, but firm. There is no reason to accept a finished product that it is not correct.

And then, at last, after weeks of hard work, you will be holding in your hand a finished, bound doujinshi. Congratulations!

And there you have it – a step-by-step intro to publishing a doujinshi. I hope that this has been helpful. When you get yours all done, email me and let me know how it turned out!

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