Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Self-publishing Works

Priming for Printing

Up until this point, your "book" hasn't really been a book at all -- it has been a manuscript. The next step is to convert this manuscript into a printable form -- the baseline for what will actually become a physical book.

This is far easier today than it has ever been before. With a decent PC and the right desktop publishing software, you can create a printer-ready book in digital form. With this software, you can adjust margins and font size to get at your desired page count.

You can't simply send the printer a formatted Microsoft Word Document, because that type of word processing program isn't designed with the necessary print drivers to use a printing press. Instead, you need to format your book with one of two programs: Quark Xpress or Adobe Pagemaker. The software itself isn't cheap, and there's a steep learning curve, but a computer literate person can make a go at it with relative ease.

You also can't use one of the fonts that comes with your word processing program. For print-ready material, you need a Postscript font, coupled with Postscript print drivers.

To incorporate illustrations, you'll need a high quality computer scanner and a quality graphics program, like Adobe Photoshop, to get it ready for print.

With your desktop publishing program, you actually put together every single page of the book. Then you save all of this to a CD -- the desktop publishing file, the file for the font you used, and all the graphic files. This is your book, in digital form, ready for the printers.