Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Making Poetry Booklets from Home

In this article, I will show you how to make inexpensive poetry booklets to hand out at your next poetry reading or open mic.

There are three main advantages to making a poetry booklet from home:

Firstly, it requires only a computer and a laser printer; and - most essentially - a long stapler to reach the middle of an A4 page. This means the entire booklet can be reproduced from home at little cost, and made to order whenever a new reader is found.

Secondly, once the page order has been correctly laid out, and a successful method for printing each booklet has been established, it becomes very easy to make changes to the text - or indeed to repeat the process to produce a completely new booklet.

Finally, by deciding to by-step the publishing industry (which includes companies such as Lulu and Create Space), the producer (usually the poet themselves) forges a powerfully direct connection to the consumer  / reader.

This gives the work itself a homemade quality which appeals to those of us looking for something unique and rare.

At the beginning of a poet's career, when the main focus should be to carefully test the market, a home-printed 40 page booklet is a relatively simple and cost-effective method to employ. Until the poet can find a publisher, it makes good sense.

Here is a list of everything I used to create my first booklet 30 Love Poems:

  1. A laptop with Word installed.
  2. One black & white laser printer (non-duplex) + A4 paper + black ink.
  3. The essential long stapler + staples.

With some patience and logical thinking, I designed everything without purchasing complex software, using the basic features of my word processor and printer.

The first step was to type out the pages of the booklet from page 01 to page 40, making sure to include several blank pages where appropriate. This step gave each page a number (from 01 to 40) which I then applied a logical system to.

Then, through a process of trial and error, I realized that the pages would have to be printed from 20 separate files. Using my printer's 2 in 1 feature, I set Word to manually print two-sided and, in turns of two, placed the pages directly back into the paper-tray without turning them. This feature may work differently on your printer so make sure to run a test.

Crucially, the page order would have to be correct. This is very important. Below are the 20 separate files that I created, each containing 2 pages. Notice how p.20 and p.21 converge in the middle of the booklet.

When this final page is printed, your folding booklet will be ready to fold and staple. If you wish to mass-produce your booklet, simply print however many you need on each turn. I made 6 at first.

  1. p.40 (left side of print-out) | p.01 (right side of print-out)
  2. p.02 (left side) | p.39 (right side)
  3. p.38 | p.03
  4. p.04 | p.37
  5. p.36 | p.05
  6. p.06 | p.35
  7. p.34 | p.07
  8. p.08 | p.33
  9. p.32 | p.09
  10. p.10 | p.31
  11. p.30 | p.11
  12. p.12 | p.29
  13. p.28 | p.13
  14. p.14 | p.27
  15. p.26 | p.15
  16. p.16 | p.25
  17. p.24 | p.17
  18. p.18 | p.23
  19. p.22 | p.19
  20. p.20 | p.21

Using the above method, each booklet will consist of 10 pieces of A4 paper. This is because there are 4 pages on every sheet. Using point 14 text size and setting paragraph spacing to none, I was able to fit in all 30 poems - plus title page, contents page and a short bio.

The result is a product which I am happy to sell for £3 or the price of a drink.

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