How to Bind a Manuscript/Book
I've been a writer for several years. I have written many eBooks. What should come next? My book in print! I thought it would be really neat to have one of my better-selling eBooks in print. I used one of those online publishing companies that come up when you run a publisher search online. This particular company already had my eBook on their website and was doing a great job of marketing it for me. I thought maybe they could do the same for a print copy. It was a mere click of a button to have my eBook turned into a print copy.
To have your book put into print form is an incredible feeling! Your name, your book title, the story you wrote—all bound together in a real book! It makes you feel like you are finally a "real" author.
You Can Create Your Own Binding
They did a great job on the book. I like it a lot, but it comes with a price. Nearly half of the royalties will be removed to pay for the binding. I thought, "That really sucks. I bet I can make my own binding. And it won't cost half of my royalties to do it!" And so I did.
You don't need to be a crafty person to do this. Can you use a printer? Can you cut with an Exacto or another sharp object? Can you paste it? That's all you need! We can go through the steps, with photos as well, together. It's easy to follow along. Let's do this!
Bind Your Book
Just below this paragraph is a list of tools and items we will need to complete this project. Below the tools list are photo's depicting what your manuscript should look like at every stage. Below the photos are the step-by-step instructions we need to follow.
This Is Our Table of Tools and Items Needed
Your book is referred to as a manuscript.
A good, strong, glue. I use Gorilla Wood Glue.
A piece of heavy cardboard (like on the back of notepads).
This will be the structure for the cover. Make sure it is bigger than your book. Ex. 5" x 8" book = 2, 7" x 10" cardboard.
Clamps (at least two)
The clamps will hold the book together as it dries.
An Exacto, or heavy duty paper cutter.
This will be used to trim the pages so they are neat.
Preparing the Manuscript
Here is how we put the manuscript together for binding:
- Print your manuscript. 5" x 8", 6" x 9", 12" x 15", whatever size you want. This is your baby!
- Stack the pages of your printed manuscript neatly. Edges flush to one another. Using your clamps, or a heavy book, secure the pages. Make sure glue will not be able to seep between the pages of the spine area. Leave the edge of the papers that will serve as the spine exposed. When you have the manuscript held in place, glue the edge of the pages of the spine. I use a paintbrush along the spine of the pages to make sure glue gets on every paper edge. Allow it to dry thoroughly.
- Cut a swatch of cloth the length of the book and 3x the width. Glue this to the spine edge, centering the spine in the middle of the cloth. Then set on end to dry. This cloth will serve to keep the pages together along with the glue you already applied.
- When it is dry, take a straight edge, or ruler, and your Exacto knife, and cut along the edges of the manuscript, including any over-shot cloth, so the pages are all clean and even. If you have an industrial paper cutter that would work best.
Take a Break!
Right on! You've made it this far and things are looking good! This is a good time to take a break before we go into the final steps of the binding process.
Putting It Together
Your manuscript is dry, has a spine with cloth glued to it, including wings on the cloth.
This is the fun part! You can choose whatever material you like for the cover and the inside liner. Leather, cloth, blue jean, whatever you want for your book cover. The lining inside is your choice as well. I printed a design for the lining of my book.
Moving right along:
- Lay your manuscript with the spine along the edge of the cardboard cover material. Trace the outline of your manuscript leaving about a half inch around the edges of the manuscript. The extra half-inch will extend past the pages like a normal hardback book does.
- Carefully cut two identical pieces from your cardboard. One will be the front cover, the other the back. Also cut a strip the width of the manuscript and the same height as the front and back cover. This strip will serve as the book cover spine.
- Lay the book covers and spine down on the cloth you chose. Leave a small space between the covers and the spine (Approx. 1/2") so it will close properly. Draw an outline on the cloth adding 1" along the edge. The 1" overlay will be folded over later to make a nice edge on the book cover.
- Make sure the covers and spine are placed straight, and slightly apart (Approx. 1/2"), then glue the book covers, and spine to the material. Allow it to dry.
- Flip the book cover, with the now attached material, over. In order for the corners to lie nice, cut a diagonal line across each corner as shown in the photos. Along the length of the cover, fold that 1" overlay material over the edge and glue. Then, do the same on the short side. Allow it to dry.
- Take your manuscript, with the cloth wings hanging out like a bird in flight, and put glue on the front cover where the wings will lay, and on the back cover where the wings will lay, but not on the spine (See photo). Lay your manuscript into the cover, manuscript spine against the book spine, and press the wings firmly to the book covers. Let the wings dry thoroughly.
- Now for the liner. To cover all that nasty glue, and cut material edges, we put a liner down. Whatever you chose for a liner cut it to the size of your book with its front cover open. See photo #7 for this one.
- Fold your liner paper/material in half. Paint the inside cover and the first page with glue and lay your liner across the two. Set something heavy on it to dry flat. Do the same to the back inside cover.