Letterpress memoirs: should you go that route?

Does it make sense to publish your memoir using letterpress?

I would like to say, categorically, yes!  But can’t.  If you want to include a lot of photos, then finding another process for your memoir makes sense.  If you are loading your memoir up with various decorative colors, then letterpress may not be your best choice–unless you have a budget that allows for the extra time and work involved in adding color to your work.  But if you have straight forward text and are looking for a way to bring your memoir to life in a memorable way, then you probably can’t beat having your manuscript typeset in hot metal and printed letterpress.  There simply is nothing that matches quality letterpress, superb paper and distinctive hot metal type fonts to give

Photo of cover art for Tom letterpress printed book

Cover of Tom memoir

your work an ageless distinction.  Of course, letterpress may not be the cheapest way to get into print, but then does your memoir deserve to be cheap?  Is that what you think of it?  On the positive side, though, over the years I have honed the typesetting and letterpress printing process so that you can have the finest printed memoir at a price that is thoroughly competitive with other options.  It’s taken work to develop my system, and while it’s isn’t an “instant” process designed to deliver your book tomorrow, we can work out a schedule that you will be comfortable with.

So how to get started?

First of all, take a close look at your work, do your editing before you send your manuscript out to be typeset and printed.  Making changes to your text after typesetting has started will add a lot of expense to your project.  Get an idea of how long your memoir will be when printed.  If you need help figuring that out, feel free to contact me and we can visit about  your book.  Do you want it to have a soft cover or a hard one?  If a soft cover, would you like to have it sewn bound or wire stitched?  What physical size appeals to you?  There is no right answer to the last question, but you need to visualize your book and decide the “feel” you would like it to have.  A small, intimate book easily held in the hands says something different than a larger format book meant to be displayed on a coffee table.

How many should you publish?

That’s a difficult question as it depends so very much on what you want to accomplish with your memoir?  Is it a story meant primarily for your family or a few close friends, or would you rather that the entire world have a copy of it?  You must decide this for yourself, just as you need to select the physical size you would prefer.  Try to be realistic about the number of copies you will order.  If you get too few, then you will disappoint people who would love to have a copy and you will be faced with the question of going into a second printing.  Getting more copies in the first run is by far the less expensive way to go.  On the other hand, having a closet full of books you can’t sell or give away doesn’t make any sense either.

Should you get help putting your memoir together?

Often it makes sense to have another pair of eyes reading your work before you start typesetting.  It’s amazingly easy to miss incorrectly spelled words or incorrect punctuation together with sentences that don’t quite make sense to a fresh reader.  If you would like, I can provide editing help to get you on your way.  If you need someone to help write your memoir, I can assist there, too.  Just call and we can visit.  The call doesn’t cost you anything and may make all the difference in how you approach getting  your memoir into print.

Finally, good luck on  your venture!  Writing can feel like sweating blood, but in the end a book  you can point to with satisfaction and pride, can give you a sense of accomplishment like nothing else can. For a personal story about one woman’s determination to letterpress publish her poetry book, take a look at Possible Grace by Elva Cowdery.

Until later . . .

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