Self Publishing Your Story by Dick Griffin

Dick Griffin 

Let’s look at self-publishing your autobiography when you complete your story written for the family and successive generations. For this you produce an edited copy with photos in MS Word format for some print-shops or in PDF format for others.

The WEB provides good information by several publishing firms and you can do business with them as well as putting their ideas into practice. has many ideas for self-publishers. is similar to the above. offers some advice, but leans toward commercial publishing.


  I tried to interview several local (San Luis Obispo county) printing/publishing firms and was successful with two; the others were either non-existent when I drove there or couldn’t provide help. San Luis Print & Copy (265 South St., Ste E,  SLO, 546-0704) was recently recommended, but I have yet to interview them. The two successes were Staples in Atascadero (near Home Depot) and Poor Richard’s Press in Paso Robles. 


   I spoke with Dawn at Staples, which had been used with nice results by one of our classmates. She covered their services from suggestions on preparation and copying the document, arrangement of pages and photos to printing and binding of a personalized cover and chapter pages. They can provide archival material and laminated covers.


   I spent time interviewing Cheryl at Poor Richard’s Press in Paso Robles, who had been involved in their publishing work for several years. She showed me the various levels of producing a document, which run from an inexpensive pamphlet-type to a bound book.  She went through pricing and how it is applied. One needs to present the copy in PDF format but they have a program to convert your MS Word product to PDF. She recommends 8 ½ X 11 inch size pages.(I had seen smaller sizes recommended on WEB sites, but she sold me on the larger standard.) To ensure she’s in when you wish to visit, call first at 866-752-3300.


   Here are some ideas I’ve gleaned from the WEB and interviews:

   *You are publishing for future generations, so your book must endure for centuries!  Therefore use archival material and protected items. Plastic hinges will break down with the years, so use metal or book bindings. The pages and covers probably will not have heavy use, so they should last with reasonable care. Forget archiving it on CD and floppies; these media will be replaced by more modern technology in a very few years.


  *Identify your photos, no matter how you arrange them in the book.  I find that embedding text inside the photo eliminates the need to associate text in the story in proximity with the photo.  


   *Break the story into chapters, starting each chapter on the right side-just like a book..

Number the pages-just like a book  


   *Use sans-serif type font for titles and serif type font for the body. Example of the former is Arial Black and the latter: Garamond. Both of which are common fonts which are used in this paper.


   *Compose on only one computer to eliminate differences in program versions.


  *Edit it thoroughly with the final edit by someone capable other than yourself; even a pro!


   *Use only one justification throughout.  Most common is “full justification”, which is clearer than the others;(i.e. Right, Left and Center).


  *Margins should be ¾ inches on top, bottom and sides with an extra ¼ inch on the left side for binding.


   *Other rules for a professional look are one space between sentences and two spaces indent for paragraphs. (These are not worth retyping an existing draft, but OK for starting..

Also note that I’ve used these in this paper.)

  Ed. Note:  We spaced out the paragraphs for easier screen reading .


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