How Do You Create a Book of Limericks?

Create and self publish a book - the final product.
The 14th June to me was D-Day (Delivery Day) of my new limerick books. I was very excited as our printer friends, Karri and Miranda from Colour Gamma, arrived with boxes of freshly printed books. How amazing it was to finally hold in our hands the result of eighteen months work which it took to create a book of limericks.

The process involved writing, editing, re-ordering the text and type-setting.  Next came commissioning and working with an illustrator, then sending the files off to the Printer for preparation for printing. After receiving a printed “dummy” copy, the next step was to check the order of pages, quality of print and colours, placement of images, and any other unexpected errors before the final print run. But let’s go back to the beginning.

The Challenge

“101 Lively Limericks – To Make You Smile” began as a response to a challenge made by Jeff Goins, an American author, blogger and speaker. Jeff challenged his readers to write 500 words every day for 31 days. I accepted the challenge and began writing about anything that came into my head and sometimes on topics suggested by Jeff. However, I soon realised I’d rather write poems.

Why Limericks?

After trying out a few types of short poems, e. g. cinquains, I found that limericks were the ones I enjoyed writing the most and decided to write 101 of them. Limericks are short, funny poems of only five lines which have a particular rhyming scheme and rhythm pattern. They usually tell a story and often have a twist or surprise ending.

I aimed to write one limerick every day (not 500 words of course) until I had finished 101 of them. Several of my friends and family kindly read them and gave me suggestions for improvements. While some needed tweaking, I  ditched some altogether because the message was not clear or the rhythm didn’t work. So I wrote more limericks.

Sorting out the Order (Structuring the Manuscript)

Having finished editing, the next step was to group the limericks by topics instead of alphabetical order. This involved printing out all the limericks, cutting them apart and putting similar ones together. Imagine 101 small pieces of paper spread out on the table and arranging them into some sort of order!

Any limericks containing animals went into the animal group. Those about individual people went into a separate group. Next, any based on nursery rhymes or written stories went into another group and finally, everything else went into an “observations” group. This process made it clear that I should write a short introduction for each section.  It also showed me that two limericks per page or an illustration at the top and one limerick below would be best. I folded a stack of A4 copy paper sheets in half,  taped them together like a concertina (or a fan) and taped the limericks on the pages for each of the four sections.

Preparing for Publishing

At this stage, I  had many questions in my mind and had to make big decisions:

  1. Who would type-set the book? How could I communicate what I wanted by email? I decided it would be too difficult to explain so I would do it myself.
  2. Should I self-publish the book? If so, how? If not, then who? How would I find someone I could trust? Would I be asked to change anything? After reading many articles on the internet I decided that since I wanted to keep control of the whole process, self-publishing was the answer for me.
  3. How would I find an illustrator who would appreciate my humour and be able to convey it in simple, colourful drawings? Fortunately I found just the right person in Phil Judd, a local cartoonist, who was recommended by a friend.
  4. What about a printer? Should I have the book printed overseas? No, I decided! I would rather support a local printer even if it cost more.
Challenges Overcome

Around this time I discovered that a friend, Karri Von Hellens, owned a printing business. Karri was delighted to be asked to print the book and encouraged me to type-set it myself. He showed me how to use In Design software well enough to set up the pages and place objects where I wanted them on the page. He helped me choose the fonts and showed me how to change the spacing between letters. This meant I could adjust the length of each line of text so that lines that rhymed were the same length.

Designing the cover was another big challenge and I read many articles on the Internet about the best way to do this. Working with both Phil and Karri, we eventually created an eye-catching design that shows the book is suitable for children and is humorous.

Last Steps

A “dummy” print of the book with spiral binding showed some small errors to do with inserting images. Also, some colours looked different on paper than they had looked on screen and needed adjusting. I needed to fix some minor  punctuation errors and change a line or two to improve the word flow.

Next came another test run with “perfect binding.” The quality of the printing and paper was  excellent with a special finish added to the cover.

The end result is a high quality book which feels smooth and comfortable in your hands and is a pleasure to look at, inside and out. The delightful illustrations and poems appeal to children and adults alike. “101 Lively Limericks” definitely makes you smile which fulfils its purpose and my dream to create a book of limericks which families and friends can share together.

If you’d like to find more about the book, click on the link below to vIew the book on the products page.