Writing Workshops, Retreats, Mentoring

SELF-PUBLISHING WORKSHOP – Your book Published by Christmas

Presented by James Dewar
(Publisher of Piquant Press and Stone’s Throw Publications)

This workshop is presented in two Saturday installments, 5 weeks apart:
Saturday, September 27th and Saturday, November 1st, 2014.
10:00 am to 4:30 pm (45 minute lunch break)

$190 (+HST) for both full day workshops
$175 (+HST) for Library Members and members of WCDR, WCYR, WCSC.

Pre-registration is necessary. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER:


How would you like to hold a copy of your book in your hands this year?

How would it feel to have a small print run of your own book available to sell, or give as gifts this holiday season?

One of the most satisfying moments for most authors is the first time you see your work published. But in today’s highly-commercialized market there are so few traditional opportunities for publication. If you want to see your book in print, self-publishing is not just considered acceptable–it is now the norm.

The most commonly recognized small book formats are chapbooks. They usually number between 36 and 160 pages and are commonly used to publish fiction (from short story collections to novellas), nonfiction (such as guidebooks, business books and article collections etc), and poetry. The fundamental skills can be learned quickly.

The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library has partnered with micro press publisher, editor, and author James Dewar to present a two part workshop that will provide professional support through the process of designing and printing your book. The cost does not include the printing of your books, but James will provide low cost printing packages customized to the project that you bring to the workshop.

PLEASE NOTE: In order to prepare a publishable copy of your book by the end of the two part workshop, you MUST bring the following to the first workshop:

1. A laptop computer (PC or Apple). If you have never used a laptop before, no training on the basic skills will be provided during the workshop.
2. Your own power cord and extension cord to plug your device into a power outlet. Power bars will be provided.
3. Microsoft Word installed on your laptop. Both Apple and pc versions of Microsoft Word are acceptable. You must have a basic working knowledge of Word. If you have never used Word before, no training on the basic skills will be provided during the workshop.
4. The book templates that James provides are only guaranteed to work with Microsoft Word. If you bring any other word processors, such as Open Office, or other word processing software, no time will be available to help resolve conflicts between the template and the software.
5. All word and text files that you are considering for your book should already be loaded on your laptop when you arrive. If you intend to include photos in your book, have those loaded on the laptop in one file as well.
NOTE: Since a critical component of the layout process will be to convert your written material into TEXT FILES (to remove all formatting before inserting it into the book template) do not spend time formatting your text in the files that you bring to the workshop. James will demonstrate how to customize your book from plain text. This is a critical step in preventing book layout conflicts. Adding fancy fonts and other features comes AFTER the book is laid out.
6. Each participant should also bring a PRINTED COPY of their manuscript to make the process of choosing and ordering the content quicker and easier.
7. James will contact each participant by email in advance of the workshop to have a brief chat about these few technical requirements.
8. If you have any questions about this aspect of the course please contact James through the email address provided.

WORKSHOP ONE: Essential Self-Publishing Skills for Authors
Saturday, September 27th, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, 2 Park Drive, Stouffville, Ontario.
Light refreshments and coffee will be provided. Bring your lunch or eat at a local coffee and bagel shop a short walk away. There will be an hour break at 12:30.

In the first of the two workshops, the instructor will lead the group through the work selection and book design process:

Workshop One, Part One:

Why do you want to publish? (A discussion about living “The Artist’s Way”)
What is your book about? (What authors care about and why it’s important.)
How do you know if you’re ready? (Overcoming fear and self-esteem issues.)
What ends up in your book? (Defining the locus and seeking/ignoring advice.)
Who will care? (Identifying an audience and learning how to get their attention.)

Workshop One, Part Two:

A copy of the Microsoft Word Chapbook template will be distributed on usb drives for participants to download onto their computers.

Using examples, the instructor will explain how text and images are placed into the Microsoft Word Chapbook template. The instructor will guide authors through the key elements of professional layout and design:

1. essential elements of aesthetic page design
2. layout fundamentals
3. inserting page numbers and excluding them from blank pages
4. headers and footer options
5. solving the problem of section breaks
6. obtaining ISBN numbers and pricing barcodes for the cover

Other aspects covered:

• The difference between perfect bound, stapled and other formats.
• How are the first, last, middle and other segments selected?
• How is the ideal title chosen?
• How important is the cover? (a template will be provided)

During the five weeks between the end of the first workshop and the beginning of the second workshop, participants will be required to perform four important functions. They will bring the results with them to the second workshop:

1. Choose an image for the cover and create a mock-up book cover using the template provided by the instructor.
2. Finalize the material to be included in the book. (Review and possibly edit work using the techniques covered in the first workshop.)
3. Decide on the order of the work and prepare a Table of Contents.
4. Enter the text to be included in the book and email a copy of the draft to the instructor to double check for consistency and fix any small errors. The draft will be emailed back to each participant before the second workshop date.

WORKSHOP TWO: Preparing Your Book for Printing
Saturday, November 1st, 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, 2 Park Drive, Stouffville, Ontario.
Light refreshments and coffee will be provided. Bring your lunch or eat at a local coffee and bagel shop a short walk away. There will be an hour break at 12:30.

“The role of the writer is to attract the interest of someone who has no interest in being interested.”

Workshop Two, Part One:

Most participants will arrive at the second workshop with some aspect(s) of the design/layout unfinished. Or after seeing some of the ideas that their classmates have chosen, they may want to make some changes to their layouts. Consequently, the first half of the second workshop will involve reviewing the manuscripts as a group, and fixing/making alterations to fix any layout issues and apply the finishing touches to make each book print-ready.


1. Participants will work in small groups assigned by the facilitator to share ideas and discuss the elements of aesthetic page design that they selected for their books.
2. Inserting page numbers and excluding them from blank pages is often an issue in this process. The instructor will demonstrate fixes.
3. Participants will resolve variable header and footer issues that have arisen and amend them.
4. Any section break errors will also be investigated and repaired.
5. The correct placement of ISBN numbers and pricing barcodes on the cover will be checked.
6. Once everything else has been finalized, participants finalize the Table of Contents.

Workshop Two, Part Two:

1. Participants will share the cover images that they bring to the workshop. The facilitator will demonstrate total design concepts that involve both the front and back covers, the spine, the importance of the bleed, author photo and obtaining early book reviews.
2. Tips on how to sell books in person, online and through proxies.
3. Social media savvy and other methods of attracting readers.
4. Final thoughts on living The Artist Way and enjoying the writer’s journey.

At the conclusion of this second workshop, each author will have completed an interior file and book cover file READY TO TAKE TO A PRINTER. Participants will also take home a Microsoft Word template that they can use for future book publications and the skills needed to create additional print-ready manuscripts and book covers.

For an additional fee, authors will also have the option to order a proof of their books printed at a very low cost, and the presenter will also provide low-cost, low print run pricing options for authors who wish to have their books printed and in hand by late November/early December, just in time for the holiday season. Full details will be provided during Workshop One.

About the facilitator:

James Dewar is the publisher of Piquant Press (www.piquantpress.ca) and Stone’s Throw Publications (www.stonesthrowps). He has edited and published over ninety books including poetry, memoir, fiction, anthologies, cookbooks, coffee table books and business books. He has taught advanced creative writing at Durham College and now teaches poetry and fiction writing in Ontario, through his partnership with Sue Reynolds in Inkslingers (www.inkslingers.ca), and internationally as a member of Radical Restoration Retreats (http://radicalrestoration.ca).

KUDOS for James Dewar’s Previous Self-Publishing Workshops:

The League of Canadian Poets sponsored James Dewar to offer a poetry version of this workshop in Toronto in April, 2012. Here are kudos from the LOCP organizer and some of the participants:
Thank you James for an excellent presentation and well-planned workshop! The workshop was full with 15 participants that were both members and non-members of the League. I hope this type of workshop continues with more being planned throughout Ontario and spread to the rest of the Canadian provinces.

Sherrene Kevan, National Council Representative, The League of Canadian Poets

I was delighted to finally meet you and thanks so much for delivering the Chapbook Workshop and sharing your knowledge and expertise! I found the Workshop very helpful, especially in the way of helping me to begin tackling my organizational dilemma. Where once I was buried in stacks, now I am finding my way to the surface!
With many thanks.

Edith Baguinho

Thank you for yesterday’s workshop. It was informative and inspirational. I really enjoyed it. Could you please email me the link to the website that offers free barcodes for books?
Many thanks,

Dr. Dina Ripsman Eylon,
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal

I had a great time. I believe you to be an excellent leader. You give your attention to each person without distraction and put your heart into your work. You facilitate an atmosphere of camaraderie. The book format was well put together and we got to interact with it with you coaching us during class.
I enjoyed all the talk about why and how to create a chapbook. I put one together as practice and will now put some real effort into making something really nice, which I will send to you for printing.
I don’t think anyone could have made us more comfortable with a more adaptable template than you did on Saturday.

Ron Potter (author of Mad Man)

The workshop was great and that was a sentiment shared with others during the lunch break and since. Apart from the new knowledge gained regarding the mechanics of chapbook publishing, the background information on other aspects of publishing gleaned at the same time is immeasurably useful. The tips and tricks of the trade that can only be gained by experience, that most of us don’t have, answered many questions, some of which we didn’t know needed asking, and I’m sure headed some of us off from taking a few wrong turns along this path.

Jim Scott (author of several travelogues and books of poetry)