Self Publishing for Guitarists Part 4

By: James Martin

So, by now you’ve a) set out a clear set of parameters for your self publishing book, what you’re covering and not covering, b) planned out your approach methodically in a stage by stage logical progression, each stage building on what’s gone before, and c) put together a text file manuscript with placeholders for the various graphics, music notation and audio files.

Now it’s time to start turning this manuscript into a fully fledged, fully formatted book that can compete with the likes of the products released by the big boys – Hal Leonard, IMP, Warner and so on.

There are a wide variety of desktop publishing (DTP) packages available for both PC and Mac platforms – I plumped for Serif’s PagePlus X5, primarily because the newer X6 package had just been released and I could therefore pick up the older software for the princely sum of £20 (give or take).

This is a useful trick regardless of which software package you choose – you’re unlikely to be using all the ultra-clever high tech stuff that the latest package offers, so going for an earlier version is a great way of saving money.

Whatever software package you use, make sure it’s able to output in a variety of formats.

Although EPUB is the standard for eBooks, I found that this standard really doesn’t work well with embedded graphics, so I plumped for the tried and tested PDF format.

This let me send the publishing company an accurately formatted version as well as allowing me to sell it directly from my website as a download.

It’s also important to set up a template to ensure a consistent look for your book.

This is much more important than in the conventional book publishing world as we’re not telling a story here.

The book is acting as a proxy instructor to the student, and the styling sets the tone the student hears it.

Font choice is an important part of this – for Zero Point Guitar, I wanted a no-nonsense military “boot-camp” style approach with clearly defined headings so I opted for Reprise Stamp for headings, with the text in easy to read, non-threatening Calibri.

More than two or three different fonts will look pretty messy, so avoid getting overly complicated. Headings, sub headings and text are really all you need.

Setting up a template should be done in the first stages – set up a dummy page with vertical and horizontal margins that stay fixed throughout to ensure consistency and then copy and paste the text from your word processor file to see how it looks.

Once you’ve got a look you’re happy with, set your template and stick to it.

Then begin importing your text – a side benefit is that this provides an extra layer of editing.

Read your text as you import it to ensure it says what you think it does and don’t trust the spellcheck to do your editing for you.


Stay tuned for Part 5 – Graphics and notation, the free and not-so-free packages you can use.

In the meantime, check out Part 1, Part 2Part 3, Part 5Part 6Part 7, and Part 8 of this series.


This article has been independently supplied by the author and expresses the author’s own views and opinions; the article does not purport to represent RGT’s views or policies.

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