Tips for Creating a Chapbook

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If you don’t know already, a chapbook is a small book filled with poetry, usually from the same poet. It is usually less than fifty pages in length. I just got done making one with my creative partner, using my mother’s poetry. Here are some hints of how we got it done:

The first step in creating a chapbook is to pick the poems. It’s best if they follow a theme.

Next, decide what embellishments or illustrations are going to be used. They can be anything from clipart to photos to illustrations. I used pen and ink illustrations, reduced town to pure black and white, one to a poem. So the format had one poem with one facing illustration. It’s best if there is spacing between poems like that, so each one can be savored and enjoyed individually.

Next, decide the format. We chose 6″ by 9″ perfect bound, because it allowed higher quality than a folded, stapled, booklet style, at the same time as being less expensive to print. Shop around, both at your local business supply stores, as well as at online self publishing places like CreateSpace.

Then, get the illustrations and decide what is going to go with what. Choose a good, readable font, and if the font is going to be some kind of handwriting, make sure it’s large enough to read. As you format the poems, make sure you know how wide the margins should be with the publisher you have picked.

Design the cover – again, check the minimum print resolution – how many pixels for inch, measurements, that kind of thing. Make sure to leave space for the bar code if you are using CreateSpace.

Tip: When creating the interior file, make sure you set the page size and margin width before you begin, that way you are doing it correctly from the start.

Lastly, when everything is the way you want it, convert the file to PDF. Do the same thing with the cover art. The PDF format locks the file so your format stays the same and can’t be changed. It forces the printer to make it just as you wanted it. LibreOffice will do file conversions very easily, and GIMP will convert your cover art into a PDF as well. Both are free programs with no ads or spyware.

Then send your PDFs to the printer, whether it’s an office supply store’s printing services, or CreateSpace, or wherever you want to use. Happy creating!

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