Wednesday, 27 October 2010

self-publishing: how to make your own book (step by step)

In preparation for the Journal Your Dreams on-line workshop, and because I've been doing some of this recently (making books and I so enjoy it), here's a 'how to' on making your very own creative book (could be a mini journal?). Assemble at home, and create a 'one off' artists book, or limited edition series as a mini 'home' publisher ;) Rely on no-one but your very own self to get your 'messages' and art out there :)

my step by step of how to make your own little book using recycled materials where possible:

Soooo, getting started. You will need:
  • cutting board (or kitchen chopping board)
  • scalpel or sharp craft knife
  • ruler (a metal rule is best for this)
  • double sided sticky tape
  • scissors
  • strong used envelopes (I've used brown envelopes)
  • greyboard or card (I used the back of an old paper pad)
  • letraset letters and or letterpress letters or ink stamp letters
  • gouache paint and small paint brush
  • other embellishments of your choice including your printed text, collagey bits, paint, pens, ink, stamps etc
step 1:

measure a length for your inner pages (we are making a consertina page book here) for a square page, for example I have measured 8 cm's across and 24 centimeter's long (see below)

step 2:

24 cm's long means 3 whole pages can be folded into the strip

step 3:

measure 8 cm's in from the end to get your square page and score with the 'wrong' side of the scalpel so the page bends easily and neatly . . . .

step 4:

once you've folded the first page, turn over the strip and score again 8 cm's in from the fold of the first page and and continue folding alternately like this until you have a consertina-ed strip like so:

step 5:

once you have your correct set of pages (choose how many strips and therefore pages you would like) as above - you will need to plan how they fit together. There will be one or a few joins like so (see below):

step 6:

add double sided sticky tape to one of these inside pages to be joined, and secure them together, planning carefully which way up your pages are going (keeping them the same) and ensuring your paper is the right way round ie. you have all the insides of the envelopes or the outsides - if you are using normal paper it won't matter.

step 7:

for the hardboard cover I've used greyboard (thick card) from the back of an old pad and measured an additional centimeter across so there is a  width of 9 cm's across, then I've added another 1.5 centimeters to the length, this allows half a centimeter for the pages to fold in the centre of the book and to create a spine, and half a centimeter at each end so that book cover is slightly bigger than the pages all round . . .

step 8 and 9:

now to make a slip cover (this is optional as you could put text straight onto the card) I've measured a length of thick cream paper 9 cm's across but allowed a fair bit longer on the length so the paper can be folded in and stuck down at each end. Measure and fold appropriately: ie. allow a 0.5 cm for the spine and score and fold as per the pages, then fold each end in allowing room for give and take when opening and closing the book. Play around here and see what is required.

Then, add the title of your book. I've done it here with a combination of letraset (transfer letters) and vintage wooden letterpress letters painted with gouache and pressed down onto the paper - you could alternatively paint, collage or draw your own image on the front of the book.

step 10:

decorate and add text to the inside pages of your book now that you've folded them in together . . . I printed out the key points on the computer and glued in with pritt stick (glue stick) adding bits of collage, paint, ink, stamps, spray paint and drawing

step 11:

cut and stick lengths of double sided sticky tape to the inside of the first and last pages along all four sides, (making sure it's on a single sheet and not a double fold page), and stick down onto the card cover allowing room for opening - the best way to do this is to fold the back cover onto the last page so that it opens with a bit of  'give' and isn't too tight. Testing and experimenting re. folding here . . . . then put two strips of double sided sticky tape on the inside of the part of the cover that folds into the inside of the book and stick down (the white bit you can see in this image will fold in and stick down on top of the brown page already stuck down.)

voila . . . . you have your own book. Mine is dedicated to 10 little things (recipes) you can do for pockets of happiness:

good for messages; presents; or starting your own production line of limited edition of books to sell . . . . . or a journal to fill with dreams ;)


PS hello to new followers, am attempting visits/commetns to one and all . . . some days are slower than others but will hopefully get there . . . . .


  1. Thank you Amelia for your wonderful class 101 of bookmaking.

    Have a lovely evening.

  2. thanks for the tutorial Amelia! I haven't made one of these journals since college, and had forgotten how...think i'll make one this weekend!!

  3. thanks for this fabulous tutorial!! i LOVE bookmaking and it's been sometime since I've been able to take a class with my favorite local instructor...I hope it's okay to cut and paste the instructions to follow them at home later??

    i thought i was the only one that was still using old school Letraset rub-on lettering!! Have I given away my age with that?!? ;)

  4. Ohhhh I love this idea! Thanks for sharing. I've been toying with making an activity book for my niece and nephews for Christmas and I think this would be perfect! :)

  5. Amelia, I really liked the idea of making your own book. I believe with your step-by-step instructions I may get creative! This is the first time visiting your blog/ workshop. I am from Canada and it is a pleasure to read this blog. Thank-you for the great idea!

  6. Hi Amelia, wow! This is truly useful. I may do a collection of my blog posts into a book like this.

    Thanks for taking all the trouble to share it with us, very sweet of you!

  7. Fantastic! I have been thinking of making a book for Isabella for Christmas - this is perfect! x

  8. I love this....lots of ideas now

  9. Great tutorial. THanks for the ideas!

  10. This is great Amelia! I can't wait to gather up my materials and head back here to follow your step by step. Love it!

  11. Amelia, this is a fabulous idea your book of happiness looks wonderful. Thank you for showing us how to make them! Have a beauty filled day. xxx

  12. This took me back to watching Blue Peter all those years ago, all that was missing were the words 'sticky backed plastic'! Loved this post. :-)

  13. Great tutorial Amelia. Love your book of Happiness. I'm freaked out again as I was getting ready to put a journal together myself! I think many are thinking about this at the moment also. Thanks for sharing your techniques, i feel like a sponge looking for all the wonderful ways to create. Cant wait for your class! :-)

  14. Fantastic! What was your recipe for happiness btw?!

  15. That is very helpful advice on how to make a little book!
    My granddaughters would love to make these with me. Good for a rainy day project.

    I came over from my brother Eddie's Sunday Roast and thought I would let you know that I thought your answers were very good. I always find it very interesting to meet new people!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  16. This is wonderful - thank you for sharing this sweet little book. Can't wait to make one for myself. :)

  17. Me again! Congratulations on your roast over at Eddie's, I really enjoyed it. :-)

  18. Thank you for this! I've been inspired to make books lately because of the wonderful display in our public library.

  19. Just visiting from Eddie's roast to say hello.

  20. Hi Amelia!
    Great tutorial. I'm really enjoying delving into the art of book-making. I'll definitely be giving this concertina style a try.
    Hmmm I'm curious as to what ingredients are required for a happiness recipe? ;) x

  21. wowzers, there is so much overt awesomeness going on on your blog.
    i love it!
    keep up the fantastic posts you! x x

  22. very beautiful. you are an amazing artist :-)

  23. I think your work is AWESOME! I made one of your projects and gave it away as a birthday pressie! They loved it, so I dedicate my thanks to you.

  24. Thank you for sharing an idea that even a total non-artistic person like myself can do for someone else! I visited your website and love your work. So many talented people will not share their talent the way you do. I will love following you and if I get to London to visit my friend there I will certainly look for your art.

  25. Hey Amelia! I loved your blog! This is my first day on here, and I just wanted to look at some professional blogs to get some ideas, and I just wanted to say that yours inspired me! Check mine out if you want!


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