Do-It-Yourself

Mar 142006
 

By Hamish MacDonald

Blood, sweat and glue.UPDATE:Hamish has started a DIY Book podcast!

Back in 2000, I wrote an article for this website about how to produce your own book. Things have changed considerably since then, both in the technology available to individuals and in the services available in the marketplace. It’s all good news for us independent publishers.

The original article was called “DIY Book Production.” Aside from being a clunky term, you now have more power than that: You can be your own press. I now produce my own books at home from start to finish, and in this article will explain what I’ve had to learn and acquire in order to do that.

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Feb 162006
 

Warehouses always make me think of the Ark of the Covenant.Distribution is one of the toughest nuts to crack when it comes to publishing. There’s a few reasons for this, one of which is that it’s boring. It’s hard to get excited about receivables, warehousing, and invoices. But good distribution has made it possible for me to make a living off my books.

When I started thinking about No Media Kings six years ago I thought through doing distribution on my own. I would have to write letters to all the bookstores in Canada, and ship out the orders myself. Assuming that they took it seriously enough to order, and I shipped out the books, they sold, and I followed up with an invoice, I then hit a snag. My invoice would naturally float to the bottom of the pile: those from distributors representing a number of books and publishers would get paid first. They had the leverage of not shipping out any more of their books (and a collection agency), while all I had was the threat of not sending out any more Jim Munroe books. So I discovered the strength-in-numbers value to being with a distributor.

Over the years I’ve discovered a few more things about getting your books out into the world. Let’s start with some general concepts of the book distribution business.
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Jan 192006
 

Alien helmet for the AYS tour by Sandy Plotnikoff.I’ve come to realize that I don’t hate advertising so much as have an allergic reaction to a high-hype-to-low-content ratio: like when the inner ear is imbalanced, when marketing TALKS LOUD and SAYS NOTHING NEW it induces what I call hype nausea. So promoting my books was initially a challenge for me. But since I wrote my first DIY Book Promo article five years ago, I’ve brought public attention to three more novels and now quite enjoy it. Here’s some of the things I think about when I craft a promotional campaign.
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Dec 212005
 

The Red Panda, Canada's Greatest Superhero.I first noticed the Red Panda, his hands outstretched hypnotically, on a street poster in my neighbourhood. “Adventure! has a new address… decoderringtheatre.com” the poster announced. I checked it out and spent the next few days listening to the adventures of Canada’s Greatest Superhero (and his sidekick, the Flying Squirrel) on my MP3 player as I walked around town. More homage than spoof, I thoroughly enjoyed these additions to a genre most assume is long dead, and emailed Gregg Taylor to tell him so. A couple of emails later, he’d graciously agreed to “give the nickel tour” of how to make radio drama, from the high-tech of podcasting to the lo-tech of vegetable-based sound effects.

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Nov 302005
 

by Emily Pohl-Weary

Aaaar! Ye'll want the DPI to be at least 600!Everyone has a graphic novel inside them. A picture paints a thousand words, right? It’s easy to be seduced by the old truism. But it’s not as easy to produce a 24-page comic, especially not if you’re the kind of person who wants your work to actually look good.

I publish Kiss Machine magazine, so I thought it would be simple to turn my hand to publishing my indie comic, Violet Miranda: Girl Pirate, with illustrator Willow Dawson. I didn’t realize how steep the learning curve would be.
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Nov 182005
 

Shave seconds off your trip!So my pal Sean is the creator of the TTC Subway Rider Efficiency Guide: a small booklet that helps you plan which car on the subway to get on so that when you get off, you’ll be at the exit stairwell. He got a lot of media attention for this fascinating and obsessive project and he’s very generously offered to share all the things he learned during the process of media outreach which (true to his nature) he extensively catalogued as he went along.

While media outreach is only one part of promoting a project, it’s one that a lot of people find intimidating. He’s broken down a lot of the key things in a very approachable way. Check it out and feel free to add your own tips or questions in the comments.

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Nov 022005
 

diygrants-thumb.jpgI’ve received five grants in the past eight years. Amounting to about $50,000, they’ve allowed me to take some time to work in different mediums and build community resources instead of focussing solely on making money through publishing books. The grant system isn’t perfect, but overall I am a big believer in it — I wrote an article a few months back on free money.

A lot of people have asked me about this over the years, and while I don’t think there’s any trick to grant writing, I do think there’re certain strategies that have helped me.
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Mar 272003
 

by Nicholas Johnson

Making a movie where each scene is the perfect length and contributes to the piece as a whole, leaving echoes of images that stay in the brain like aroma, is a colossal pain in the ass. I tried to make that movie once, and it was not only painful for myself but for my friends as well. I had a pool of about eight friends whom I begged mercilessly each week, trying to get at least three of them to show up to film. I thrust liquor at them to keep them patient while I futzed with my camera to assure perfect shots. Inevitably problems would arise: a wind would kick up and wobble the camera on its spindly tripod, a cloud would pass over and change the tone of the daylight, or I would fuck up the pan. I duplicated shots just to be safe, I took a thousand close-ups in case I needed them during editing, and few of the actors escaped without injury — in one case a knee injury requiring medical treatment, the result of quite unnecessary horseplay. Continue reading »

Mar 272003
 

by siue

I’m not going to be writing from a professional’s point of view. Most of the time I couldn’t be bothered to go about things the “right” way and am more concerned with time management and the outcome than doing something that will make me a “master” of my “craft”. I like to do animation because it’s fun, it’s a cheap way of getting what’s in my mind onto film, and I seem to be halfway decent at it. Maybe you’re wondering why you should do animation and not live action? Well, here’s two reasons — money and control! Sure you could get your friends to act for free — but will they give you want you want? Also what about special effects, costumes, sets, make-up, lighting etc., etc… Working a miniature scale is not only incredibly cheap — you can hand craft characters, movement and things exactly the way you want.

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Mar 272003
 

by Stacey DeWolfe

One day in early January, while reading a selection from the autobiography of famous porn star Harry Reems, I had an epiphany. Back in the seventies, Harry and his buddies were making these feature length films that they would shoot in one day on Super 8. They didn’t have much of a script, but they had the one thing that everyone was interested in…tons of sex. They called them one day wonders.

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