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Self-Publishing 

Together  
 
Questions to be shared  
about the publication process  
 
The linear structure of this document doesn’t 
always reflect the publication process. We’ll ask 
questions and move forward—and then, when we 
return to the questions later on, we’ll find that 
they have changed.  
 
 
Contents 
 
What is publishing? 
Why publish? 
How can we come up with a publishing project? 
File of concessions 
How can we develop content for publication? 
What is editing? 
What is design?  
1. Print or digital publication? 
a) Print publication 
b) Digital publication 
Formats 
2. How can we design a page as part of a publication? 
a) Layout 
b) Framework 
c) Text box 
d) Font 
e) Color 
3. What kinds of images should we use? 
4. What aspects of printing should we consider in our design? 
a) Print area 
b) Overlays  
c) Font  
d) Font and color  
e) Offset type 
f) Lines 
5. How can we review what we’ve designed? The dummy 
Costs 
What is prepress? 
1. Reviewing the material   
a) Physical originals  
b) Digital originals in PDF or editable files  
2. Page makeup  
a) Manual page makeup  
b) Digital page makeup  
3. Marks 
a) Registration marks  
b) Cut lines  
c) Fold lines  
d) Bleeds 
How and where should we print? 
How should we finish our publications? 
1. Binding 
a) Saddle-stitched binding 
b) Spiral binding 
c) Perfect binding 
d) French binding 
e) Paperback  
f) Hardcover 
g) Folded binding 
2. Basic tools 
Parts of the book 
What is an archive? 
How can we circulate our publications? 
i. What kind of strategy should we use? 
ii. Participation 
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
SELF-PUBLISHING TOGETHER ​came out of the Taller de Producción Editorial (TPE, or Editorial 
Production Workshop), which is physically located in the Cooperativa Cráter Invertido in Mexico City. 
The TPE is a collaborative space where we share our enthusiasm for publishing texts and exchanging 
questions. This manual is a stockpile of doubts and a few certainties collected from our different 
experiences with the publishing process. We aren’t interested in reaching conclusions; what we want is 
to start conversations that will be transformed and reorganized whenever and wherever they’re shared.  

 
What is publishing? 
 
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Why publish? 
 
What do I want to share? Why do I want to share it? Who do I want to share it with? Is it something I 
already know or something I want to find out? What sort of place am I speaking from? What kind of 
dialogue do I want to start? What resources do I have that can help me share what I want to share? 
Are we doing this for ourselves, for others, or with others? Is publishing the same as writing? What is a 
catalogue of shared knowledge? What does collaboration really mean? 
 
 
How can we come up with a publishing project? 
 
Any of the following elements can be our starting point in planning a publishing project, as long as we 
consider all of the aspects and all of the questions. 
The order in which the elements are presented isn’t necessary the order of the process itself.  
 
About the content​: What is our context? What is our intention? What are our topics?  
 
About the readers:​ Who do we hope will read our publication? Who is going to read it? In which 
languages? How will the publication coexist with/affect the context where we want it to circulate? Who 
can afford to buy it? How much can she pay?  
 
About the working process: ​How do we want to work on this publishing project? Do I want to publish 
it on my own, or do I want to be part of a working group? What is self-publishing? Who creates the 
content and what is my relationship with these people? Do I want to publish my own work? Do we 
want to publish someone else’s work? How can we organize the entire process? How can we structure 
our timeline?  
 
About the publication:​ What kind of publication do we want? What form will it take? What are the 
basic resources we need to produce it? How can we make it sustainable and affordable? Is this the only 
way we can achieve the effect we want our publication to have? Why?   
 
About circulation:​ How will the publication circulate? How many copies will circulate? Will it be part 
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of an ongoing conversation? What is our position on copyright?  
   

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​Some alternatives to traditional copyright include Creative Commons licenses, copyleft, peer production licenses (which is
what we’re using in this publication), anti-copyright, or none of the above.
  
 

Before continuing with a project, we should ask 


ourselves the following questions: Is there any 
reason not to publish it? Is our project viable? Are 
there readers for this material? Is print the right 
format for us? What’s the cost/benefit 
relationship? 
 
If our answers suggest that our project isn’t viable, 
we may end up setting it aside in our file of 
concessions. 
 
But if not, then let’s get to work! 
   
How can we develop content for publication? 
 
What is our physical, geographical context? What’s the ground we’re standing on right now? What are 
the needs or interests at work in the community we want to address? What is it we want to 
communicate? Where does the content come from? What strategies can we use to produce that content? 
Will the content be in text form, graphic form, or both? Who will participate in this phase? Who will 
read our content?  
 
The content of our publication can come from infinite sources: The only possible limit to how we 
produce content is our own ability to imagine it. In general terms, we can produce content based on 
knowledge we already have, or by researching something we don’t know and are interested in 
understanding better, or through a mix of things we already know and things we’re learning now. 
Either way, it’s very useful to tackle the subject through a range of different perspectives that shed light 
on different aspects, then choosing the one (or ones) that makes us feel most comfortable (or 
uncomfortable, for that matter).  
 
What is editing? 
 
What is editing? How should we present our content? What kind of language should we use? Who am I 
speaking to? What effect do I want to have on my readers?  
 
Editing means clearly establishing the discourse of the publication. An editor builds a narrative line out 
of the content, and she guides the rhythm of the reading experience. To do so, she chooses the materials 
that will be included in the publication and determines their order, the forms they will take, and the 
relationships between these materials, so that the reader can access the author’s message as clearly as 
possible. Editing often means cleaning up, simplifying, removing things that aren’t necessary.  
 
The editor is present at every step of the publishing process. Sometimes she works alone; sometimes 
she works together with other participants. When it comes to self-publishing processes, we can’t forget 
that the same person often ends up fulfilling several different roles:   
 
With the author:​ She selects the original material, organizes it, makes an index, 
determines the discourse, and helps to make sure that the content is expressed properly.  
 
The editor:​ She makes sure the order makes sense, depending on the importance of 
particular elements to the discourse.  
 
With the copyeditor:​ She reviews the grammar, spelling, and syntax of the texts, and 
makes sure that the style guidelines are followed consistently.  
 
With the designer: ​She determines the design and physical characteristics of the book, 
makes sure it’s legible, and decides on the visual style and illustrations (if relevant).  
 
With the prepress operator:​ She prepares the designed files and makes sure they’re right 
for the printing method.  
 
With the printer:​ She makes sure that the printing and supplies are both high-quality and 
financially ideal.  
 
With the binder:​ She makes sure that the binding method is appropriate in terms of 
quality and cost. 
 
With the distributor:​ She makes sure that the publication reaches its readers.  
 
Process evaluation​: It’s important that we all reflect together on the work we’ve done. 
 
 
What is design? 
 
What is design? Why design? Who will use the publication? How do we imagine it? What do we want 
to spark in our readers? What visual characteristics will it have and why? What form will it take? How 
do we imagine it will be used? What technical tools do we have at our disposal? 
As we start to design our publication, it’s important to think about its goal, its reach, and the circulation 
it will have. In this way, we can start to imagine what kind of form we want it to take.   
 
1. Print or digital? 
We’re probably thinking of using both formats, but each one raises particular questions to consider. 
Besides, the quantity of content, its quality, and other factors can help us choose the best format for our 
publication and determine its formal characteristics.   
 
a) Print publication 
Among the formal characteristics we have to determine as we design are, for example, the paper, the 
number of pages, the number of copies to be printed, and the printing and binding methods.  
 
Format ​refers to the size of the publication. In deciding on format, we have to consider the size of 
paper sheets we choose, as well as the kind of binding. There are standard paper formats: tabloid, legal, 
letter, half-legal, and half-letter are the most common. Learning to use these formats will make our 
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publishing processes less expensive. We should ask ourselves: Do I know anyone who has extra paper 
I could use? 
 
Paper ​is chosen for several different reasons, including the type of printing, cost, format, and quality. 
There are many sub-categories defining different types of paper and cardboard, different textures and 
thicknesses. The best option is to use affordable paper that’s easy to find.  
 
The ​number of pages i​ s determined by the length of the content, the medium, and our specific needs. 
We always have to consider the type of binding and the weight of the paper.  
 
The ​print run​, or number of copies printed, is determined according to the publication’s cost, objective, 
“lifetime,” and the scope of its circulation. Sometimes it’s more affordable to print a greater number of 
copies, but it’s not always a good idea to have more copies than we need.   
 
Printing i​ s the system used to produce our publication and determine things like the image quality, the 
number of colors to use, and the font size.  
 
Binding​ is the system used to collect the pages into a single object and make it possible to read the 
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publication.  
 
b) Digital publication 
If we decide on a non-physical life for our publication, our considerations change, because many of 
them are determined by file formats and e-readers. What we have to evaluate here is the format, the 
distribution methods, and the device that will be used to view the publication.  
 
The ​format i​ s the type of code our file will have. The best formats to use are those that can be viewed 
on various different e-readers or file formats, like PDF. We should always think about the access 
mechanism, the weight of the file, and the available bandwidth for reading. It’s also important to keep 
the file size in mind.  
 
The ​publication platform i​ s the place where our publication will be distributed. This can mean personal 
websites or homemade platforms. There are also public archives of publishing material, P2P exchange 

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​If we consider size of the paper sheets in choosing the final formats of the printed publication, we will end up wasting less
paper. For example, cutting a 57 x 87 cm sheet of paper into four sections produces tabloid-size (28 x 43 cm) sheets, which
means wasting only three percent of the paper.
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​For a more detailed description of different binding processes, check out the section “​How should we finish our 
publications?” at the end of this booklet.
systems (peer-to-peer). And there are commercial systems dedicated to distributing and selling 
publishing material. It’s important to ask ourselves where we want our publication to be. In doing so, 
we should always consider the file’s final weight, which will determine whether it can be transmitted 
easily.   
 
Digital circulation depends on ​informational formats​ like web browsers or apps that depend, in turn, on 
computer equipment or e-readers like tablets and other devices. Some forms of publication require 
third-party distribution services, which often charge a fee.  
 
The ​layout ​depends on the production system. It can be developed through a platform in html5 and 
CSS, JavaScript, or graphic environments (whether commercial or in open code), generally producing 
formats in PDF or EPUB (electronic publication), as well as systems used exclusively for devices and 
commercial e-readers. 
   
Formats 
 
  Digital 
 
 

  Weblog or personal page  Social media (client-server)  P2P (peer to peer)  EPUB 
 
Advantages  Low-cost  Low-cost or free  Free  Low-cost 
Doesn’t require a large team of  Immediate access to readers  Isn’t mediated by corporate  Digital circulation 
people  Independent administration  interests  Independent administration 
Independent administration  Doesn’t require technical skill  Independent, consensus-based  Possibly constant circulation 
The publication’s lifespan  Broad reach   administration via  (flexible lifespan)  
depends on who publishes it   peer-to-peer networks of   
  nodes 
Possibly constant circulation 
(flexible lifespan) 
Possible to distribute different 
kinds of files (e.g., audio, 
video, PDF, text documents) 
 
Dis-advanta Reading experience  Reading experience  Little-known model  Reading experience and legibility 
ges  Requires programming skill  Social networks are corporate  Requires some technical skill  Physical disconnect among 
Physical disconnect among  property  Physical disconnect among  individuals 
individuals  Content ends up in their hands  individuals  Determined by access to 
Determined by access to  Subject to private interests  Determined by access to  computers and the internet 
computers and the internet  Physical disconnect among  computers and the internet  Programming languages can 
Programming languages can  individuals    expire or cease to be updated  
expire  Short publication lifespan 
  Determined by access to 
computers and the internet 
Programming languages and 
social networks can expire 
 

Print run  ∞  ∞  ∞  ∞ 

 
  Intermedial  Small-scale printing  Industrial printing 
 
 

  PDF  Household printer  Electronic duplicator  Photocopy  Digital printing  Offset 


(riso) 
 
Advantages  Free  Immediacy  Low-cost in print  Low-cost in small  Affordable in small  Print quality 
Multimedia  Low-cost in small  runs under 500  print runs  print runs  Low-cost in print 
circulation  print runs  copies   Independent  Low-demand  runs over 500 
(digital/print)  Low-demand  Independent  administration  printing   copies 
Independent  printing  administration  or by a small team   Circulation among  The industry offers 
administration  Independent  or by a small team   Circulation among  individual readers  different binding 
Possibly constant  administration  Circulation among  individual readers  and through  options  
circulation (flexible  Circulation among  individual readers  and through  networks of 
lifespan)   individual readers  and through  networks of  like-minded 
    networks of  like-minded  bookstores  
like-minded  bookstores    
bookstores    
 
Dis-advanta Reading experience  Slow production  Expensive in large  Very expensive in  Very expensive in  Very expensive in 
ges  Physical disconnect  Very expensive in  print runs  medium and large  medium and large  medium and large 
among individuals  medium and large  Monochromatic  print runs  print runs  print runs  
Determined by  print runs  technology  Requires print  Requires print  Requires print 
access to  Print quality  Can require printing  distributors  distributors  distributors 
computers and the  Binding costs   distributors  Print quality  Print quality  Storage 
internet  Binding costs   Black and white  Binding costs   Distribution 
Programming  technology 
languages and code  Binding costs  
can expire 
 

Print runs  ∞  1-10  50 - 500  1 - 100  1 - 20  500 - ​∞ 

 
   
2. How can we design a page as part of a publication? 
Design means arranging the elements that make up our publication and considering how it will be used 
and how the reading experience will be structured (in texts and graphics). The nature of each project 
poses different questions and possible experiments with how to organize the elements and establish a 
rhythm. All of this depends on our own intentions for the publication, including whether we want to 
offer a complex reading experience.  
 
a) Layout: T ​ he distribution of elements on a page is called the layout, and it involves making an 
internal composition of the content (titles, page headings, the body of the text, photographs, etc.) in 
order to establish the order in which it should be read. It’s important to keep these decisions consistent 
so that the project can be read clearly.  
 
b) Framework:​ The framework is a system of invisible guidelines established to organize the 
compositional structure we call the layout. It helps determine the position of specific elements. It can 
follow whatever order or system of construction we choose, if and only if it helps simplify the design 
process.  
 
c) Text box​: This is the space designated for the text. It generally defines a specific space within the 
layout​ for the text to flow on every page.  
 
d) Font:​ The kind of typeface we choose will give our publication a personality. The selection of font 
families, styles, and point-sizes should work to establish hierarchies among the different elements. 
Consistency in the use of font resources and styles will make the reading experience easier.  
 
e) Color:​ Choosing the color(s) we’ll use is a decision defined not only by aesthetic or conceptual 
factors, but also by how we will end up printing/copying the publication and by our financial and 
practical production conditions. It’s important to stress that digital publications use the RGB color 
model, which is the one screens use to convey images. By contrast, print publications can use the 
CMYK color model, a gray scale, or a spot color scale. 
 
Depending on the context, our available resources will vary. In order to meet our goals, it’s important 
that we can produce publications with minimal resources. The design can be done​ manually​ by 
formatting texts with a simple word processor (even by hand or on a computer), using photocopies and 
drawings for the production of images, and compiling the original by hand. ​Digital d​ esign calls for a 
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computer. It’s helpful if you have a word processor, a photo editor, and an imposition program to 

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Before printing, we have to position the pages on their corresponding sheets. This way, once they’re binded, the
succession of pages will turn out correctly. This process can be carried out either manually or digitally. Check out the
section “​What is prepress?” for more details on imposition processes. 
create the output files.  
 
 
3. What sorts of images should we use? 
We use the term “images” to describe any visual elements (photos, drawings, diagrams, maps, tables, 
etc.) that are part of the discourse of a publication. A publication can be made entirely out of images 
and have no text at all. Even so, they should always be chosen carefully. 
 
The size of the images we use should be close to the final size we want (whether measured in inches or 
centimeters) and they should appear in a high-quality definition. The ideal images are characterized by 
high contrast, clarity, sharpness, and tonal richness. 
 
Images have different formats and qualities, which then determine different degrees of quality. The 
recommended files for digital formats are .jpg and .gif. If using vector-based images, the format .svg is 
the recommended one. Digital publications should include images with a resolution of at least 72 ppi, 
although the latest file formats, e-readers, and computers require a minimum of 144 dpi.  
 
For print publications, we recommend the use of the .tiff format because it doesn’t compress the 
information, which means it will be printed in higher quality. In such cases, it’s advisable to use images 
close to the desired size with a 300-ppi resolution. 
 
Note: Image resolution in digital formats is measured in pixels per inch (ppi). Physical resolution in 
printed material is measured in dots per inch (ppi).  
 
Note: The resolution is the number of pixels or dots in an image. The higher the resolution, the greater 
the level of detail when printed.  
 
4. What aspects of printing should we consider in our design? 
Every printing system has technical specifics we must take into account during the design process. We 
suggest asking print suppliers for the specifications they require.  
 
a) Print area:​ It’s not possible to print on the entire surface of the page. The maximum print area varies 
by system. In general, we should leave margins for handling the paper, for the cut marks, and for image 
bleeding (if applicable). We’ll return to the subject of bleeds and cut marks a little later, in the section 
on prepress.  
 
b) Overlays:​ We should remember that the use of color overlays in printed publications means higher 
printing costs and doesn’t necessarily improve the design. It’s a good idea to evaluate the effects you 
hope to achieve by using ink overlays.  
 
c) Font:​ For the body of the text, we recommend using fonts larger than 7-point size for optimum 
legibility. To compose fonts, it’s best to use vector graphics editors or self-publishing programs, not 
image-editing programs.   
 
d) Font and color:​ It’s best not to use more than one ink for the text. If you do, you run the risk of 
causing a slight variation in the position of one color in relation to the other, which makes the 
publication more difficult to read.  
 
e) Offset type:​ We recommend not overlapping text on image or overlays under 9-point size, because 
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the ​tone value increase can complicate or hamper the reading experience. 
 
f) Lines:​ We recommend that your lines are at least 0.25 points. If the point value is greater than that, 
the lines tend to disappear when printed.  
 
5. How can we review what we’ve designed? The dummy  
We recommend making a dummy of the project with all of its final characteristics; that is to say, a test 
model of the physical publication (ideally printed in its actual size). The dummy helps us make sure 
that everything looks and reads as planned, and it helps us spot possible errors in the editing, design, or 
binding. It’s a very useful guide for the rest of the printing and publishing process. 
 
This exercise also helps us evaluate the ink distribution, weight, drape, and transparency of the paper 
we intend to use, among other relevant features for the project. 
 
Note: We should always remember that the result we’re seeking may lead us to different solutions than 
the one we imagined at first. 
   

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This is the effect of the ink spreading onto the paper, which causes a slight expansion of the dots that form the letters.
Costs 
 
It’s important to consider all of the costs involved in the process. It’s also important to calculate, 
according to our plan, the practicality of publishing in one system or another and the number of 
copies that can be published. The costs to consider can be divided into two categories:  
 
Fixed costs​ are paid just once, regardless of the print run: they include payments for content creation, 
capture, copyediting, design, illustrations, formatting, and prepress, as well as the fixed costs involved 
in the work space (rent, utilities, etc.). 
 
Variable costs​ depend on the medium, print run, publication format, number of pages, printing 
supplies (for print publications), storage costs (for digital publications), amount of time in operation, 
paper, finishes (binding), and circulation.  
 
Some important questions worth answering carefully are: 
 
a) ​How much should our publication cost? 
It’s essential to think about who our readers are and how much they can pay for our publication. Not 
all projects have commercial objectives. Sometimes the best way to circulate them is by distributing 
them for free. When this isn’t possible, we can calculate a price by considering our expenses (fixed 
and variable costs). This total is divided by the number of copies, and the result is the ​production 
cost​; that is, the real cost per copy. 
 
If the publication has been subsidized, or if we so choose, this same result can be its ​retail price​, or 
what we will charge someone to buy it. 
 
However, if we’re thinking about setting a commercial price—one that will leave a margin to help us 
fund the next publication, for example—then the production cost should be multipled by three or by 
five. We can make this decision depending on what works best for us. 
 
b) H​ ow many copies should we print? 
It’s worth experimenting with different print runs so we can find a balance between the priced our 
readers can pay and the number of copies we can print without getting overextended. It’s important 
to consider that, while the costs do drop when you print lots of copies, a large print run comes with 
great responsibility—so that the publications don’t turn into a dead weight stuck in a warehouse.  
 
c) ​Is our project viable? 
It’s important to consider the practicality of our publication in terms of our budget, the relevance of 
the publication itself, the possibilities for circulating it, and how long it will be circulating. All of these 
factors will affect the number of copies we print.    
What is prepress? 
 
Once the design stage is behind us, we need to prepare the material for printing. In the prepress phase, 
we’ll make sure that our files have the characteristics we planned in the design, and that the page 
numbering, margins, cut marks, and measurements are the right ones. Two other aspects we need to 
review are the image resolution and ink-separation.  
 
Is everything we see in our design file going to turn out the way we want when we print it?  
 
1. Reviewing the material 
The first step is to make sure that the material we’ve designed, whether made by hand or digitally, has 
the characteristics we chose for publication and production parameters:  
 
- Full size (measurement of the open publication; that is, before it’s folded) 
- Final size (measurement of the closed publication; that is, the final cover size)  
- Page makeup  
- Number of inks (color selection or spot colors)  
- Number of booklets (division of the total number of pages into little books to be sewn) 
- Type of binding  
  
The prepress process depends on how the book has been designed. For example:  
 
a)  Physical originals 
The material must exist in the final intended size and with the highest possible quality. We need 
the originals of every page, back and front, separately. If we’re going to color-print our 
publication, we need to separate the originals by color. 
 
b)  Digital originals in PDF or editable files  
The designed material must be complete and the files must exist in their actual printing size, 
with images of the highest possible quality and selected fonts. 
 
If we’re going to submit open files to a service provider, we need to include the images and 
fonts, as well as a printed mockup so we can doublecheck all the material.  
 
2. Imposition 
Imposition is the distribution of pages onto sheets before being printed, folded, and bound in the 
correct order. It involves considering spaces for the margins, gutter margins, and lines indicating cuts, 
folds, and registration marks. The imposition is determined by the number of pages. Depending on the 
final size of the publication, we’ll know how many pages fit on each sheet and therefore how many 
sheets we need.   
 
a)  Manual imposition 
The position of each page on the sheet is determined by the imposition outline. This, in turn, 
depends on the type of binding: if the publication will be made up of independent pages 
(French, spiral bound, rustic), a booklet (saddle-stitched), or various booklets (paperback and 
perfect-bound). 
 
To create a page layout outline, we determine how many pages fit on one sheet and fold as 
many sheets as the number of pages in our publication. Then we determine the number of pages 
in each booklet (the standard is 16 pages per booklet) and assemble the folded sheets together. 
Once the booklets have been assembled, we number them so we can keep track of how many 
there are. We create a window by making a diagonal cut into each booklet, which we use to 
number the pages. When we unfold the sheets, we’ll have the order and position for the page 
imposition. We call this technique the “page numerator.”   
 
b)  Digital imposition 
The digital page makeup process can be carried out in various ways:  
 
The first is to create a new file in the self-editing program in which the pages are the same size 
as the sheet to be printed. Here, we’ll arrange the designed pages (extracted from a final PDF) 
in the order and position established by the imposition outline (page numerator), as well as the 
marks. We’ll make one page per side of the sheet. 
 
The second option is to use specialized imposition programs that automatically perform the 
process of organizing and arranging the pages on sheets. These programs include Imposition 
Wizard, Imposition Studio, and Booklet Creator. 
 
4. Marks 
a) Registration marks: ​These indicate the position of a printed ink in relation to the other inks.  
 
b) Cut lines:​ These indicate where the final cut will be made. They also help create the ink registration 
and align the bleed on both sides of the paper.  
 
c) Fold lines:​ These mark where the printed sheet will be folded.  
 
d) Bleed:​ When the printed area extends all the way to the edge of the publication, we have to leave a 
bleed, because the trim size is never exact. In general, this margin should be under 5 cm.  
 
 
How and where should we print? 
Before printing, it’s necessary to make sure that the publication has been edited, copyedited, and 
proofread; that the design layout describes our publication effectively; and that the image resolution 
and marks are adequate. Once we have exhaustively reviewed every aspect of our publication, we can 
dedicate our efforts to the printing stage. This stage will truly display all the work we’ve done together, 
and so we should carry it out calmly and carefully. 
 
Every printing system has its own characteristics and requirements. The table of formats included in 
this guide can help you think through some of the standard techniques that are available to you. Talking 
with the printing provider can teach you more about these issues.  
 
On the medium and the long term, forging a ccooperation relationship with the printing provider can 
help your publishing project continue to grow and evolve. 
 
 
How should we finish our publications? 
 
Once the sheets are printed (back and front), the finishing and binding phase begins. The first step is to 
fold the sheets and form booklets. Then the booklets are assembled according to the series of sheet 
numbers. Next, they’re put together with the technique of your choice (sewing, glue, or staples). After 
adding the cover or jacket, the edges are trimmed.  
 
1. Binding 
How do we want our publication to be used? The type of binding will determine the lifespan of the 
printed work, depending on how it’s going to be used, as well as its flexibility. We should also consider 
the number of pages and costs. There are different kinds of binding: saddle-stitched, spiral, French, or 
paperback, just to name a few. 
 
a) Saddle-stitched binding (stapled or sewn): ​The sheets are grouped together and stapled in the 
middle. The pages should be a multiple of four. We recommend not stapling more than 64 
pages (16 sheets). Bear in mind that the booklets will shift as you make them. This method 
requires few finishes, which means it also requires few tools: a paperknife, a stapler, and a 
paper trimmer or box cutter. There are few cuts needed and it has no spine. It’s very flexible, 
but it can be damaged easily.  
 
b) Spiral bounding:​ The loose sheets are punched with holes and bound together with a metal 
spiral. This system is available in any stationary store. It’s best used for printing a small number 
of copies, because the process is slow, costly, and labor-intensive.   
 
c) Perfect binding:​ The sheets, in a block, are rasped and glued together at the spine. The hot melt 
method dries quickly but is more rigid (it works better for a small number of pages). If your 
publication has lots of pages, the cold melt method is a better choice. In both cases, the covers 
are made of cardstock.  
 
d) French binding (stapled at the margin): T ​ he loose sheets are stapled on one side along the 
spine. We recommend testing this method first and not binding more than 36 pages. This 
method doesn’t allow the publication to be opened completely, and it’s important to include a 
margin for stapling. It calls for few finishes and tools.  
 
e) Paperback (sewn and glued):​ The sheets are grouped into 16-page booklets. Each booklet is 
first sewed individually, then sewed onto the next booklet, and so on. The set of booklets that 
form the publication is finally glued onto the cover, which tends to be made of thicker paper 
than the inner pages. 
 
f) Hardcover: ​The sheets are grouped into booklets, which are sewed together. The cardboard 
covers are sheathed in cloth or leather and joined to the block of pages through an internal 
​ his is the most durable 
structure that isn’t visible, because it’s covered up with the endpapers.​ T
and most expensive method.  
 
* When we use French or perfect binding, we must the width of the spine so we can include it 
in the cover design. With papers between 82 and 105 g/m,​2 ​we must calculate 1mm per 16 
pages, which means that if a book is 96 pages long, the spine will be 6mm wide 
(approximately). 
 
g) Folded binding: T​ his type of finish requires us to fold a sheet once or several times, depending 
on the design. The folds can be combined with cuts for a range of different results.  
 
2. Basic tools 
Some of the basic tools we should have on hand are a paperknife, a press, a hacksaw, a paper cutter, a 
box cutter, a metal ruler, a cutting board, framing squares, glue, a stapler, a needle, and hemp thread.  
   
Parts of the book 
   
What is the archive? 
 
Why is it important to keep a record of what we’ve published?  
 
 
 
 
 
How can we circulate our publications? 
 
What are we going to do with our publications? How will we share them? What are some possible 
strategies for doing so? When is the right time to think about this: at the beginning, in the middle, or at 
the end? Or all the time? Are circulation and distribution the same thing?   
 
Circulation is the way we bring our publication into the hands of other readers and spark a dialogue 
with them. Based on the project goals and motives, it’s important to ask ourselves: Who do we hope 
will read this publication? Keeping this question in mind will help us answer many others, both about 
the publication’s physical characteristics (costs, print run, etc.) and about means of exchange and hubs 
of circulation.   
 
Not all projects are commercial projects. Some may only need to recover the costs of the materials 
used; others may have their own funding sources; or maybe it’s more important to absorb the expenses 
in order to encourage dialogue and exchange.  
 
 
What kind of strategy should we use? 
 
Once we know who we want to share our publication with, our next question might be: How can we 
reach them? The possibilities include word of mouth, through social media, at public events, in fairs or 
bazaars, or at special presentations. Other options include digital distribution, consignment or direct 
sales in bookstores or specialized spaces, via distributors, or through exchanges. Can you imagine any 
other possible forms of circulation? 
 
More formal circulation systems usually charge some kind of commission, percentage of the sale, or 
even fixed participation fee. To choose the right mechanism for us, we have to consider the reader’s 
relationship to the material and how she will come into contact with it. It’s always best to have direct 
communication with our readers. This way, we can explain certain details and motives involved in 
making the publication, in addition to discussing why a reader might be interested in the project and 
how it was created. Do you think it’s important to establish a relationship with readers?   
 
 
Participation 
 
We think it’s important to consider the fact that selling a publication isn’t the only way to make it 
available to our readers. We also suggest other mechanisms for approaching readers and encouraging 
them to get to know our material. Some ideas include:   
 
● Public readings (group or guided), which can even be transmitted via digital media. 
● Discussion sessions. 
● Presentations/talks with authors or contributors. 
● Gatherings with other publishers. 
● Reprinting/sharing in other formats and forms of exchange.   
 
What other ways to share a publication come to mind?  
 

 
 
 
 
 
Why don’t we go back to the questions we asked 
at the beginning?    
 
Self-Publishing Together 
First English edition 
Translation by Robin Myers 
Mexico City 
Printed on the RISO GR of the Taller de Producción Editorial [Editorial Production Workshop] at 
Cráter Invertido 
taller.produccion.editorial@gmail.com 
TPE, 2018 
Copyfarleft P2P