how to self bind your own childrens book  

*As you might already know I’ve been working on a children’s book for the past year and have been sharing the experience here on the blog. Most recently I’ve been struggling to find the right self-publishing company. Here are a few of the issues I’ve run into:

Publishing Company: I have scoured (what seems like) hundreds of publishing sites and always leave feeling disappointed and confused or both. On some sites just to log in and get a quote requires signing a lengthy and scary looking contract. Although self-publishing is usually touted as a way to flaunt “The Big 5” I did not get the feeling that any of these companies were looking out for me. Most publishing companies also throw in extra “free” stuff like cover design or a promotional website which is great except I don’t need any of those extras and I know they aren’t truly free. (Hello, inflated price!)

Price: Okay, maybe I’m just naive to the world of self publishing but this one blew me away. I have price checked many reputable self publishing sites (Blurb, Bookbaby, Lulu, Artbookbindery, etc) and it costs anywhere from $800-$1000+ dollars to print an order of 25 children’s books with black and white illustrations. That’s what I was quoted at least but those quotes only last 30 days after which the price goes up. (I’ve checked.) Generally that price doesn’t even include a printed proof to make sure everything is laid out correctly before spending hundreds on an order of of botched books. If I was only ever going to need 25 copies of my book I could swallow that price tag once but since I plan on selling the book here on the blog and using it as a special gift for friends and family in the future I’m eventually going to need more. There are small discounts on larger book orders but I have no room to store 150-300 books.

Customization: I’ve put an enormous amount of work into this book and I’d like my book’s “clothes” to reflect that by being extra special and interesting. I have tons of fun ideas for “dressing” my story but all the printing packages I’ve found in my price range are very plain and offer zero customization of headbands, paper colors, book marks, etc.

Sustainability: The older I get the more I find myself caring about the environment and changing my lifestyle to accommodate that. While doing my research I saw very few companies offering recycled paper/sustainable ink/green printing options. Maybe there’s not a big market for it? I’m not sure. What I do know is that I want to do my best to be environmentally responsible when I make this book…especially since it’s about a tree! :) The medium is the message, right?

*Okay, all of that on a small budget is a really tall order, I know. So what to do? Well, in my search I stumbled across an interesting solution…

Publishing Company: After a ridiculous amount of researching I have decided to print and bind The Story Tree myself. This Vlogger is wonderful and I must credit her and her wonderful tutorials for giving me the idea. I’ve already tried a few practice copies using different kinds of fabric/paper and the results have been great. To be honest, I was surprised that such professional looking books could be made by hand!

Price: Because I will be doing all the work myself the overhead cost is going to drop dramatically. On the other hand the amount of time and labor needed will shoot up but I’m okay with that. I like making stuff. :)

Customization: Oh man, where do I start? Self binding comes with unlimited creative freedom! I can do anything I want and all with very little extra cost. Custom fabric cover? Done. Beaded leaf book mark? Done. Secret envelope in the back cover with a surprise inside? Done.

Sustainability: This is the part where I get really excited. Because I’ll only be printing paper pages I can look around for online print shops like this one that offer recycled paper and plant based inks. Instead of using traditional book board for the cover I can recycle cereal boxes, old book covers, or cardboard boxes. Since I used a local artist for illustrations, an aunt with a master’s degree in English for editing, and wrote the story myself it feels right to do things this way. I want to say choosing this method feels more “organic” but I think that word is becoming too hipster for me. :)


Have you ever considered or are in the process of writing your own book? I’d love to hear about your experience below!

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, July 16, 2014
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