In most urban localities there are now quick-copy printers who can produce a pamphlet for you of reasonable quality. Most use paper masters – which are inexpensive, but cannot be used for runs over, say, a thousand copies – but that is probably plenty for you. Suppose you want to get out a pamphlet the quickest, cheapest way possible – and are not concerned about your book being an example of the art of fine printing.
Take an ordinary 8½ x 11" sheet of typing paper and fold it in half, so that you have a page the size of this pamphlet. Tuck ten such papers together, and staple the spine (hard to do on most desk stapler, but you can roll the pages under and do it). Now you have what is called the "dummy" for a 40-page pamphlet. (You may, of course, use any number of sheets – up to about 16, which would make 64 pages, about the limit for saddle-stitching. For more pages you have to go to perfect binding.)
Now start designing your book. The first page is your front cover. Do you want the back side blank – or put something there (e.g., table of contents, copyright notice)? Do you want any other frontal matter? Study other pamphlets for suggestions. When you start the poems themselves, start on a right-hand page, which will be p.1. First number all the pages through the book. Do you want to use the inside back left-hand page, or leave it blank? How about the inside back cover? What do you want on the outside back cover – if anything?
Now look at the poems you want to include. How many lines will you be able to get per page? (See my suggestion about Pica type and space-and-a-half between lines, yielding 25 lines to the page – a reasonable length for most poems.) Don't put the poems themselves into the dummy, but indicate on the blank pages the titles, where poems start, and so forth. (For example, two-page poems probably should start on even-numbered – or left-hand – pages, so that the whole poem will appear on facing pages.) Planning this way you can get a very concrete sense of what the book will look like. This dummy will be essential for you and the printer to know how the final book will be put together. To understand why this is so, take your dummy apart – or take apart some other pamphlet – and look how the numbered pages fall on each sheet – back and front. Confusing, isn't it? When the printer has your pages to b photographed, he will have to assemble them so that each page comes out in the right sequence – and only a dummy can tell him which page goes on the back of which, and which pages face each other on one sheet so that the sequence will be right when the assembled sheets are bound.
[As stated earlier, with a little understanding of your word-processing program, you can do your dummy (or "mock-up", as I prefer to call it) right on your computer in the actual size it will be printed.
I know that Microsoft Word dominates the word-processing horizon these days, but WordPerfect 7, 8, 9 and 10 all have an incredibly useful feature. WordPerfect allows you to fit two pages on a horizontal page, and then, when you are ready to print, WordPerfect will rearrange the pages so that they print in the right order for stapling into a booklet. It helps if you have a printer which does two-sided printing, but it will work with a single-sided printer also (you have to first print one side and then the other side). The mock-up should be printed on both sides of the sheets and stapled at the spine, but the camera-ready pages should be printed on full 8½ x 11" pages, on one side only, and not folded. Your printer will love you for doing this, and it will insure that there are no mistakes.
The question has probably occurred to you that if you have your own computer and a laser printer, why not just print your own chapbook? You can, although you should be sure to use better-quality paper than standard laser paper. However, laser printers have a drawback: They put type on the page by melting rosin-based inks onto the paper, and depending on what kind of paper you use, the ink can flake off over time. I once received a stamped, self-addressed envelope that I had sent off to a poet along with my letter of admiration (to Richard Wilbur, actually), and when I received it back, I was horrified to see that the printing on the envelope had mostly flaked off and could barely be seen. To impress Mr. Wilbur, I had used a fine linen paper for my correspondence and envelopes, and the paper didn't have a firm bond with the laser ink. The ink that professional printers use cannot flake off. An additional problem with creating your own booklets is that you undoubtedly do not have the cropping machinery to make the page edges even, although any professional printer would probably do this for you for a small fee.]
If you do not want your typing photo-reduced – i.e., if you want it to come out looking exactly as it does on your page – you can put your paper in sideways and, following your dummy to know which page goes on each half-sheet, you can type up the master. (Don't type on both sides of the page, though. Give the printer two sheets, one for the front, one for the back, to be assembled by following the dummy.)
More likely you will want to type each page on a normal sheet of typing paper, with the narrow sides top and bottom, and have the printer reduce them to half-size. That is less confusing, gets more poetry into the book, looks more like printing, and doesn't cost any more. So just start typing – locating the poem on the page exactly where you want it. You can use white-out (better than correction tape or erasures), but it is better, of course, to retype. (Remember, that camera will reproduce exactly what is on the page – and look at your whited-out corrections carefully to see whether the type is clear.) The camera cannot see blue lines – so you may use these to indicate your margins or any instructions to the printer. You can also paste one sheet on another, if you are careful to avoid rolls of glue at the edges. (Don't use cellophane tape.) For example, if you type half a poem, then make a mistake, you can type the second half on another sheet, cut it out, paste it on the master – being careful to line it up exactly with what is already there. Similarly, line-drawings done on another sheet can be pasted where you want them on the page. You can also cut out graphics from magazines or other sources, paste them on the sheet, and they will appear (reduced, of course) just like your typing. You may include photos, too, but the printer will have to "screen" these (at an expense of a few dollars each) to prepare them for the master – so just clip them to your manuscript with blue-line indications of where you want them (and what size: he can blow them up or reduce them to order).
[As I have stated before, reducing is no longer necessary – you can bring actual-size camera-ready copy to the printer if the copy is printed on a laser printer. If, however, the copy is printed on an ink-jet printer, or if you have line art which needs to be reduced, then bringing 8½ x 11" pages to the printer and asking him to reduce them to half-size is still not a bad idea.]
For your cover, title page, and perhaps for the titles of your poems, you may want headline type. The easiest way to get this is to use "transfer" type, which you can buy inexpensively at an office supply store. You align the letters carefully (on a blue line), then rub them on. (A light-table – with light coming up through a translucent surface – is helpful, but not essential.) Decorative borders are also available in transfer tapes, and you may also life graphics for decoration from other printed materials – just pasted in where you want them to go. (Avoid colors – some of which the camera cannot see.) [Transfer type – if it is still being made – is now obsolete. Simply use the font you prefer on the computer. Graphical borders can also be applied on the computer.]
Clean off the masters with white-out, getting off any smudges, glue tracings, cigarette ashes, or any pencil or pen lines that aren't blue. Be sure everything is aligned and spaced exactly as you want it to appear. Be sure the print won't run too close to the "gutter" or center-fold. Also there should be at least a quarter-inch of space around every edge, and probably more, for the sake of appearance. (The printer can't print clear to the edge – "bleeding" – without special processes. And, remember, the book will be trimmed, especially the right-hand edge.)
Now you have camera-ready copy. Remember, you are giving the printer pages, and he has to convert these into sheets (each of which represents four pages). With the aid of your dummy he can assemble the page – shooting and reducing two pages at a time for each side of each sheet. When you pay for this, you pay by the number of sheets, printed both sides. (The printer probably has posted prices for 8½ x 11" sheets, printed both sides – the basic cost of your book.) Divide by four the number of pages you give the printer – including cover, any blank pages, any unnumbered frontal matter. That gives you the number of sheets. (Note that it has to be a figure divisible by four.) Multiply the number of sheets by the number of copies and you have the basic cost – to which must be added the price of any special stock for the cover, any charges for colored paper or ink, any costs for screening of photos, and the cost of folding, collating, stapling and trimming.
If you need more advice, talk over the project in detail with your local quick-printer. See also Theron Fox's Booklet Publishing on a Limited Budget ($1.25 postpaid from Conference of Historical Societies, University of Pacific, Stockton, CA 95211). [A search of the internet didn't turn up any references to this book; I am still trying to find out if it is in print. But aren't those 1981 prices a riot?] It was written for historians, who, like poets, often need readers more than readers need them. Because the mail-order printers have the equipment to handle such jobs quickly, and the paper-stock and other supplies they use are purchased in bulk, they may be able to do the job you want even less expensively (and with better quality) than the quick-printer, but it is very helpful to be able to work with a printer who is close by, so you can follow the process through step by step.