By Darvell Hunt
This blog post is somewhat of a follow-up to Nichole’s post from a few weeks ago about when she had printed out her book and got out a pair of scissors, paperclips, and a stapler. I’ve also found that there’s something different about seeing your own writing on a piece of white paper that’s not the same as reading it on a computer screen, even though word processors nowadays use black text on a white background to simulate black ink on paper.
While I normally do my rearranging on the computer instead of using scissors and staplers, I do like to print out final edits for proofing. I always seem to find more things to correct when my writing is on a physical medium. In addition to just printing it out, I like to bind my books so that my critiquers (which often includes family members or friends) can read it like a book and not be distracted by the loose papers that editors and agents prefer.
A little over a year ago, I purchased a scrapbook binder called YourStory from a local craft store. It does a very good job of allowing me to publish a copy or two of my book, as long as it’s not too long—it only handles about 40-45 pages at the most, but, of course, you can print on both sides for double the pages. For adult-length novels, this method may not work very well, but it’s perfect for shorter kids’ novels or picture books.
I bind my books in an 8-inch by 8-inch format, but you can also do smaller or larger sizes, even up to 8.5-inch by 11-inch—perfect for making mockups of your picture book, if that's what you write.
I generally make two copies and label them specifically as critique versions, with my name, phone number, and email address inside, just in case one gets misplaced—that usually doesn’t happen, though, because I keep tight control over who sees it.
I then write corrections inside it, just like any critique copy, and suggest my readers do the same. Once a few people have read it and marked it up, I transfer any corrections I want to keep back into the original, go through it again on the computer, and, if necessarily, print out two more copies.
For kids, having a book they can handle and read like a book makes all the difference for getting them to read it and provide feedback. And, frankly, kids are more likely to scramble the loose pages of a manuscript anyway, so binding it for them helps me as well in getting the critique copy back in one piece.
If you’re interested in this sort of binding for your book, check out the YourStory binder at your local craft store. They can be purchased for less than fifty dollars. The binder creates a fairly good binding with a substance similar to hot glue, which is placed on the inside spine of the hard cover. The simple machine also laminates, too. What a deal!
(By the way, I have no association with Provo Craft, who makes the YourStory binder, or any craft store in which they may be purchased.)