Monday, November 16, 2015

My DIY Self-Published Book Binding Process

If you're a self-published author like me, getting print books is a daunting task. Digital only books are tough to promote and sell. Having a professional company print and bind books for you is expensive, believe me, I looked into it. Prices range from about $6 to $15 dollars per book, ouch! So I searched online, got a lot of help from, and after a lot of trial and error, I've refined my book binding process to make legitimate paperback books from home for only about $3 per book. I won't lie to you, it's not an easy process, but I do it because I feel that the old ways are worth keeping alive. Also I'll be damned if I'm gonna let my books be lost to obscurity in some digital archive, or sold off to some “independent publisher” who just wants to screw me over and cash in on my stories.

Note to all aspiring authors: None of what you want is impossible. With today's resources, you DO NOT need a publisher, or an agent. So don't give up. When there's a will, there's a way.

1.1 Extra Wide Margins

Step 1: Sizing
First, I take my manuscript and size the margins up to fit a 4 1/8 by 6 ¾ book, the traditional paperback size. Then I printed out one copy and measured how thick the stack of paper was. This gave me the measurement I needed for the width of the spine when doing my cover design. Also I keep the text on Justified format instead of Left Aligned. Most every professional paperback is in Justified format.

2.1 Folding the Covers
2.2 Priming the Spine with Rubber Cement
Step 2: The Cover
I designed my cover on photoshop.  I tried printing covers myself at first but found that it was more cost effective to have a company do it for me. I went through ,  they're great! I had 200 covers printed out with a special UV coating that gives it the glossy professional paperback shine. This only costs about $1 per cover, a pretty good deal. This is the only part of the process I contracted out to another company. Then I fold the edges, and put a rubber cement base down on the spine. This makes it so that the glue doesn't warp your spine and make it look all bubbly.

3.1 Printing the Front Sides
3.2 Printing

3.3 Printing the
Back Sides
Step 3: Printing the Pages
I bought a high volume all black and white Brother laser printer from and I love it. This was my most expensive up front cost (about $300) but it was worth every penny. On a high volume toner cartridge, which costs about $107, I can print out about 75 copies of my 350 page book. First I print the front sides, all the odd pages.  Then I flip the pages over and print all the even sides on the backs. Note: I print four pages for each sheet of paper: two pages on each side. The front side is printed Left to Right for odd pages only. Then for the back sides I change the printing format from Left to Right, to Right to Left and print even pages only so that the pages match up on both sides.

4.1 Cutting the Tops & Bottoms
4.2 Trimmed Tops & Bottoms

Step 4: Cutting
I also bought a HFS heavy duty paper cutter from for only about $100. This baby will cut through an entire book no problem and give you nice clean edges. First I cut 7/8 inch off the tops and bottoms of the pages. Then I cut the pages in half, straight down the middle. This leaves you with two stacks of pages that I have to stack together by hand. It's tedious, but it does give me a chance to make sure that all the pages are there and in order. After the book is arranged in a stack, I cut the left and right sides. Note: I usually cut a little more off the right side so that my readers don't have to stretch the book open too hard just to see the words near the spine.

4.3 Cutting Pages in Half
4.4 Arranging the Stack

4.5 Wide Stack
4.6 Finished Stack
5.1 Pages & Cover in Jig

5.2 Gluing the Spine
5.3 Let it Sit Flat
Step 5: The Jig and the Glue
With a ton of help from I built my own book binding jigs out of scrap wood, gorilla glue, bolts, and wing nuts. A book-binding jig is basically a wooden frame that holds your pages together and tightens them down for the gluing process. I insert my stack of pages and the front cover in the book-binding jig, and make sure they're flat and straight. Then I use Elmer's Tacky Glue to glue down the cover to the spine. Tacky glue is nice because it's cheap, you can get it at any craft store, and it's flexible. Don't use anything like Gorilla Glue for the spine because it gets brittle and cracks. Then I flip the whole jig over and let the glue dry on a flat surface for about 6 hours. I usually take the books out and put them on the shelf for another 18 hours after that just to make sure.

5.4 Let it Sit for 18 hours

6.1 Final Trim

Step 6: Final Trim
The next day, I'll give the books a final trim on the right side, and a light trim from the tops and bottoms and voila, a finished paperback.

That's basically it. I make all my books from home. I wish I could tell you the process was easier, but it saves me a ton of money. Instead of having a company print out 5000 copies for $6 per copy, I can make as many as I want for only $3 per copy. And if someone finds a typo, I can fix it easily and all future books won't have it. Hopefully, this didn't intimidate anyone into thinking that they couldn't do this. It's kind of a complicated process, but keep in mind I knew nothing about this stuff less than six months ago. Also I'm always open to answer any questions through email about the process. Thanks for reading and hopefully I can open up some options for self-publishing authors who want more than just an ebook.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Best Slasher Movies of 1985 - Part 2: Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

First Freddy, now Jason. Let's face it, the best Friday the 13th movies are the first four, just about anyone who's seen all 12 would agree. Everything after that is hit or miss, but Friday 5 holds a special place in my heart. I watched it for the first time as part of a double feature with Part 4 with my girlfriend in high school on New Years Eve.     

     It's often revered as one of the worst films in the entire series, and I will agree that it's definitely one of the cheesiest. There are SPOILERS in this blog, you've been warned. In Friday 5, we continue the story of Tommy Jarvis, the Corey Feldman character from part 4 as he struggles with his inner demons at a mental institution. Jason appears to be back from the dead and kills off just about everyone in the vicinity, but it turns out he's just an imposter dressing up like Jason and trying to avenge his murdered son. I gotta give the filmmakers props for at least trying the idea out. It was risky, but ultimately unsatisfying. Maybe Shane Black and Drew Pearce should've watched Friday 5 before they completely ruined Iron Man 3 with their awful "Mandarin twist." If you're doing a sequel in a series, don't mess with the villains, the conventions, or the mythology.     

     Friday 5 offers us some of the most annoying characters of the series. From the random greaseball dudes (the whiny one, and the dooshbag who's singing some kind of jazz scat), to the troll-like coke-head ambulance driver and his ditsy waitress girlfriend, and finally to the filthy screeching redneck Ethel and her braindead son. All of the scenes with Ethel and her son make me cringe. Luckily all of these awful characters are killed off relatively quickly, Friday 5 is a movie that believes in the One-Stab-And-You're-Dead-in-30-Seconds philosophy. Also the guy playing Tommy Jarvis looks like he's about 15 years older than Corey Feldman, not just one or two. I read once that Corey Feldman wanted to come back but was too busy filming the Goonies. I wonder how much better 5 would've been if they'd had him for the whole film and not just the opening scene.     

     So what's so good about this movie? It also has a few of the BEST characters in the series. You have the rare NOT annoying kid character Reggie the Reckless played by Shavar Ross. I find myself actually liking this kid and rooting for him. I also love his awesome girly shriek. We also have some of the hottest girls in the series. Debisue Voorhees (very ironic and awesome name for a Friday actor) is a busty beauty who seems to be addicted to sex. I sympathize with the homeless guy who watches her having sex out in the woods, then gets macheted in the gut for his peeping.     
Then there's Violet. Tiffany Helm plays Violet, a music addicted girl with 80's crimped blonde hair, a bad attitude, and weird robot dancing skills. The first time I saw this movie I thought, why is this girl not the main survivor girl? She's hot and she kicks ass! The character always stuck with me, and years later I based the main character Cyndi in my novel Kill River off of her. Taking an existing character and changing them up a bit, giving them a back story and a lot of insight is what really got me back into writing and I don't think I would've been able to do Kill River without the influence of Violet Friday 5. If I could've made Kill River as a movie back in 1983, I would've cast Tiffany Helm as Cyndi in a heartbeat. I highly recommend watching Friday 5, then reading my book to see what Cyndi is supposed to look like.

     Also this is the last Friday movie to be filmed in the summer. In the rest of them, the woods all have a bleak dead look, but in this one (like in parts 1-4) its lush, green, and clearly summertime. For me Jason movies have to be in the summer. I know there's been talk of a snowy Jason movie in the future, but meh...that's not really a selling point for me.    

     In addition to more Corey Feldman, I believe this would've been a much better movie with some of the story elements of part 6 mixed in. For the record, I hate part 6. It's comedic self-aware approach, the terrible corny joke-laden dialogue, and the clearly winter-trying-to-pass-off-as-summer setting was just plain awful. But if they had used more of the plot of 6 in part 5, I'll bet it would've rivaled part 4 as one of the best parts in the series.      

       There you have it: 1985, a guilty pleasure slasher movie year for me.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Best Slasher Movies of 1985 - Part 1: Nightmare on Elm Street 2

     It's that wonderful orange and black, spooky time of year again and I'm watching all my classic slasher movies. Since it's 2015, I'm focusing on two thirty year anniversary slasher movies: A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, and Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning. Neither of these films are really considered to be the best entries in either series, but I love them both and feel like they get an undeserved bad rap. First off, let's talk about Nightmare 2.

     I saw Nightmare 2 as a double feature with the first one on TV one fall afternoon after raking leaves when I was 12 or 13. Even then I knew both movies were super cheesy and dated, but I couldn't turn the TV off. Throughout high school and college, I bought them on DVD at Media Play and probably watched the first, often accompanied by the second, Nightmare on Elm Street on a bi-monthly basis. So how I can explain how I like something so much when I acknowledge that it's not very good? If you haven't seen the movie, it's definitely worth the watch. In a nutshell, it's about a teenage boy who moves into the house on 1428 Elm St. and begins turning into a Were-Freddy at night and killing people. He even has a Werewolf-like transformation scene full of gross special effects where he literally transforms into Freddy Krueger. (By the way, I'm not going to talk about the homosexual subtextual themes in this movie, that's a whole other discussion for another day.)

     What did the movie get wrong? Well, to be honest, a lot. The filmmakers seem to have completely ignored the whole Freddy Kills People in Their Dreams concept that made the first movie so great and innovative. Instead, they just made yet another demonic possession horror movie. It's almost like the filmmakers hadn't even watched the first film before they made this one. Originally, they weren't even planning on bringing back Robert Englund to play Freddy, luckily they changed their minds or this film would've been a complete disaster. Hell, they even dropped the classic Charles Bernstein theme music. Also, a lot of the story makes no sense at all. Why does Jesse leave his house in the middle of the night and go into that weird ass new-wave gay bar? If Freddy just kills teenagers, then why does he kill the gym teacher, and furthermore why did the gym teacher bring him back to the school and make him run laps in the middle of the night? Or why does Freddy need to possess Jesse in the first place? It's not the most non-sensical Freddy movie (that award goes to either 4:Dream Master, 5:Dream Child, or 6:Freddy's Dead) but it's definitely up there.

     What did the movie get right? Personally, I think it is the only movie in the entire series to keep the feel of the original intact. First off, Freddy is still taken seriously as a frightening killer. In Part 3 we begin to see the goofy, pun making, un-scary side of Freddy, but not in this one. Freddy was still really freaky at this point in the series and not a joke like in all of the later films. Another reason could be because they used Jacques Haitkin, the director of photography for Part 1, again. His colorful red and green lighting particularly in the opening school bus scene, the party scene, and the boiler factory scene at the end is beautiful. I might even go out on a limb and say it's shot better than the first. He also shot the Wes Craven film Shocker which also has a very NOES feel to it. Also it's got that awesome Teenagers-In-The-Mid-80's feel. We see the characters in the halls of their school, in gym class, in the cafeteria, partying on Friday night. We hear their synth driven 80's New Wave music. We see their outfits, and their big hair, and everything that makes the 80's awesome. I look to this movie a lot when I'm trying to get that 80's feel right in my Kill River books. I even based a character in the upcoming Kill River 2 off of the character of Grady played by the badass and underrated Robert Rusler. Part 3, the Dream Warriors, was also good and got back to the original story, but it lost that mid-80's feel. It's not as fun and I don't like it nearly as much as I like 2. Both the first two Nightmare on Elm Streets are classic and fit well together as a double feature. You couldn't pair any of the other sequels up so nicely with the original as Part 2.

     So this Halloween, give Nightmare on Elm Street 2 a watch, or a re-watch, and enjoy one of the best Freddy Krueger movies in the series. Also check out the awesome New Wave Nightmare 2 soundtrack on Next entry, I'll talk about Friday the 13th Part 5.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Why I Don't Do Digital Books

A lot of my friends and family members ask me why I won't release Kill River in a digital ebook format, and I simply tell them, "because I keep it real."  Yes, I know I'm guilty of dodging the question with a joke, but I couldn't be more serious about my resolve to have my book released only in print.   

Kill River takes place in the 1983.  It's not one of those cheesy self-aware books with references to modern technology and events.  I wrote it as if I were actually writing in 1983, and I wanted to really capture a feeling of the time period.  My vision for Kill River was to write a novel from a simpler time.  I want it to seem like a really cool bargain-bin 80's pulp horror novel.  I want it to fit right in with things like Sleepaway Camp and Friday the 13th.  And if it ever gets adapted into a movie, it will have to look like it was shot on grainy old film and have a cool synthy 80's score.  The whole digital ebook thing just doesn't fit in with the whole retro slasher experience.

For the record, I'm not against digital books.  I do own a Kindle and I think it's great to be able to take a whole library of books with me wherever I go.  It certainly made the arduous task of reading all five Game of Thrones novels easier.  But as an independent author trying to get my own book out there, e-readers have their fair share of drawbacks.

The cover art is wasted.  You don't really get to enjoy the cover art on an ebook.  You just turn on an e-reader and you're right there where you left the story.  You don't really get the full vibrant color of a beautiful painted cover sitting on your coffee table and calling to you, beckoning you to dive back into the story.  Cover illustration for most books are pretty lame and boring these days anyway, I'm sorry but one stock photo image against a lightly textured monochrome background just ain't cuttin' it.  I mean, come on, are these cover artists photo-shopping these things together in fifteen minutes?  I digress, that's a blog for another day.

I grew up in the Goosebumps era with Tim Jacobus's beautiful cover art on every book.  Even the not so greatGoosebumps books like Chicken Chicken had great cover art.  Hell, even the Babysitter's Club books had decent cover art.  Before the 90's though, there were the cheesy, but awesome eyeball-skeleton covers of the 80's from authors like Ruby Jean Jensen and Stephen Gresham.  I'm a big fan of the old Zebra Horror novels and just looking at their covers gets me all nostalgic and excited to read those books.  I worked hard to paint the cover toKill River in the style of those old school covers and I want it to be enjoyed.  I don't want it to be just some thumbnail lost in a digital archive.

Also, ebooks are more forgettable.  If you've read a lot of books on a Kindle or a Nook or some device, ask yourself how many you can honestly remember.  What were their titles?  Who wrote them?  I honestly can't remember half of them, and that makes me sad.  The old saying out of sight, out of mind rings true for digital books.  You read a book, finish it, then turn off your device and it's gone.  Unless it's one of those rare cases where it was one of the best books you've ever read in your life, it's gone like dust in the wind, or a dream you had the night before.  I can't speak for every author, but I sure want my readers to remember my books.  Physical copies of books can be kept like souvenirs, and serve as reminders of the journey the story took you on.  They can also be passed on to new readers.

So yes, with my books, I keep it real, literally and figuratively.  I won't say I'll never release Kill River digitally, who knows, I may change my mind in the next decade or so.


Website 2 Months Late

Hey everybody, I've finally gotten my website up and am able to start this blog. I'm a horror author living in Colorado and I've just released my first book, Kill River, an 80's slasher book set in an empty water park out in the woods, it's a ton of old school fun. And here I am two months late, sorry about that. I meant to have my website up back in August but I signed up with a website building company called that I would now not even recommend to my worst enemy. I repeat NEVER EVER use to build your website.

I bought a year subscription for their service for roughly seventy dollars, built a solid website, then hit the publish button under the assumption that the site would go live within minutes as they promised. It didn't go live. I waited a week, contacted tech support, they sent a very vague three sentence email two days later saying it would take 2-5 business days for the site to go live. Another week and a half went by, nothing happened. I contacted tech support again, got the same vague email response. A third week went by, still nothing. I contacted the tech support through chat, they gave me the same response. Finally after a month of sitting around waiting for them to get my website up, I called to cancel the service. They finally changed something in my account and said it would take 24 hours. I waited another day, and still nothing happened. I called again and they said there's some problem with my DNS record on my account. Now there hadn't been one mention of this for a full month. So I had to argue with them for an hour and a half to get my full refund and cancel the service.

So after all that I signed on with and had my website built and up within a week. If I learned anything it's that is basically a scam. Their customer service and tech support is terrible. You call and speak to someone with broken english and a thick foreign accent and they won't fix your problems. on the other hand, has great customer service, every speaks English, they are very helpful and highly knowledgeable. Most importantly they provide the services they promise quickly. If you're like me and know next to nothing about web design, I highly recommend And stay far far away from

End of rant. Anyway, now that it's up I can focus on promoting and blogging about my book, Kill River. So check back every week for blogs about my writing, self-printing and binding process, the movies and books that influence me, the 80's horror/slasher genre, superheroes, and any other cool stuff that captures my interest. Thanks for reading!