Finitude -

I finished my fourth novel, Finitude, this summer. I bill it as a “lighthearted climate-change adventure story about an insurance salesman at the end of the world.”

Basically, I was tired of the endless money-versus-science-versus-morality debate and wanted to process this topic for myself, to own my reaction to it rather than responding to shrill “news”. And I wanted to do it with a sense of humour – which is drastically lacking in this conversation at present, and opens up a dangerous preciousness. Writing a story was the best way I knew to engage with all the aspects of an issue like this.

The idea really hit home when I read this from economist Bill McKibben on Grist magazine’s website:

Here’s the paradox: if the scientists are right, we’re living through the biggest thing that’s happened since human civilization emerged. One species, ours, has by itself in the course of a couple of generations managed to powerfully raise the temperature of an entire planet, to knock its most basic systems out of kilter. But oddly, though we know about it, we don’t know about it. It hasn’t registered in our gut; it isn’t part of our culture. Where are the books? The poems? The plays? The goddamn operas? Compare it to, say, the horror of AIDS in the last two decades, which has produced a staggering outpouring of art that, in turn, has had real political effect. I mean, when people someday look back on our moment, the single most significant item will doubtless be the sudden spiking temperature. But they’ll have a hell of a time figuring out what it meant to us.

Here’s where it gets unconventional: I typeset, design, print, and bind these books myself – and contend that anyone can do this. It’s an effort, but you can scale up from very basic equipment to a moderate set-up like I have and produce a perfectly saleable result.

I described the production process I’ve been using on the No Media Kings website a while back:

…but a few weeks ago I switched back to a Mac. I had a bit of a scare when the Mac version of ClickBook, the program I’ve been using to do ‘imposition’ (rearranging the pages so they’ll fold together properly into a book) didn’t work properly: my laser printer would faint after a few pages, over and over again. So I had to re-jig my whole process, and now use a combination of Apple’s Pages and the excellent Mac imposition program Cheap Impostor ( to print the book, then use a guillotine, a heavy-duty stapler, and some glue to create the finished book.

You can see (and buy) the end result from my website, and at some point soon I want to make an updated tutorial about the process. In the meantime, feel free to contact me through the website if you have any questions about doing this for yourself.

Sure, your impact as a micropress publisher is much smaller – I have tens of readers! – but I have readers, not a bunch of manuscripts and rejection letters going back and forth to and from publishing businesses who are focused on money, on celebrity, on contests (art is not a contest), and on reverse-engineering existing bestsellers. Instead of being frustrated by the state of the industry, expecting businesses to behave as something other than what they (quite rightly) are, I’ve given myself permission to be the writer I am. It’s hard work, but I’ve taken my creative licence and headed out for the road, and I can tell you it’s fun out here.

More to the point of this website: Whereas there are lots and lots of generalist programs for the PC, some very good, I’ve been completely wowed by the specialist software available for the Mac. My most recent discovery has been Scrivener, and I’m over the moon about the prospect of having this incredible advantage when working on my next book, and am already enjoying it as an aid to my regular copywriting work.

Many thanks to the creator of this wonderful program, and Godspeed to you, fellow writer!

One of the most absorbing, informative, and utterly captivating post to appear in any of Scriv`s forums!!
Welcome aboard the Good Ship Scrivener, Hamish. :wink:

At the risk of seeming to agree with Vic, I agree with Vic.

Nicely done; your how-to-do-it at nomediakings should be read by everyone at


Thanks for the kind words about Scrivener.

I have to agree with the others - your website and your article at nomediakings are fascinating. I have only glanced through them so far, but they are informative and easy to follow as far as I can see. And your books look beautiful. I once hand-bound a book of short stories (22 short stories by J.D. Salinger that he would not allow to be reprinted anywhere; I was a big fan in my early twenties and lovingly copied them all out, fudged together the typesetting in Word and then bound it for myself). I was pretty pleased with the results and enjoyed the process, so I’m quite keen to have another go at some point, and your website is going to be very helpful in that…

Cheap Impostor looks like a very good program, too. You say you have only just switched to the Mac, so most of your articles - from my brief look so far - seem to be based around PC software. I wonder if you would consider a similar guide to producing the book ready for binding using Mac software? (And if you’d consider such an article for this website, with a mention of Scrivener for the initial writing process, I’d happily refund your Scrivener licence and offer free updates for life; it’s the sort of article I’d love to have on this site to extend it a little… Anyway, just thinking aloud here, so feel free to ignore!)

Thanks for the links, and once again, what a great website and article…
All the best,

Woddayya mean…risk?? Wot risk? :open_mouth:

Woddayya mean…

I mean,

You should ask what I mean

I mean, how often do you even agree with you?


Yeahhh y`re right! Never thought of it like that. :confused:

I found Cheap Impostor a while ago as I had a need for something like that. I too found it to be excellent; very easy to use and efficient. The Cheap Impostor author’s pages about simple book-binding were also very clear and easy to follow.

My problem was I was trying to layout my text in Swift Publisher 2 as I was looking for an OS 10.5 compatible substitute for InDesign CS1. It works fine until you get to about 20 pages and then chaos ensues. Since then I haven’t had time to get back to that project, but I will … it was fun. Perhaps I’ll give Pages a try, or I’ll reboot and produce the PDFs in InDesign …

I’ll check out your article at nomediakings too.


Later edit: Can’t get on to the NoMediaKings site at all … it’s a .org and has got blocked by the stupid Chinese automatic site filtering system! Dammit!

Wow, thanks, guys! I’m trying to learn to plug myself when I get the chance – getting a table whenever there’s a book fair, and mentioning the books online when it’s appropriate (thanks for making a space for that here!). It’s always a little iffy, talking about yourself and your work, but I’m overwhelmed by the reception here.

Talking about writing instead of writing is a danger, but community is important, too, so I’m happy to have found this forum.

Keith, that’s a great offer – thank you! That also gives me a carrot on a stick to finally get around to making an updated tutorial. The way I see it, there are three main components to the process:

  1. Idea to novel. Getting the story out of your head and onto the page.
  2. Novel to book. Putting those pages together into a physical form you can share.
  3. Book to reader. Connecting with the people who like the kind of thing you do.*

So I’ll try to figure out how to communicate some of this in a useful way.

*The last part is the bit I suck at. (cough) I mean, have the most to learn about. Boasting about my work – eek!

But in a world of mass-production, I find people really do appreciate getting something different, original, and handmade. And having a book – completely aside from who made it – really changes the way people relate to your writing. They still ask boneheaded questions like “Have you written any bestsellers?” and “Are you famous?” (Are you a famous accountant? Okay, then bite me. You can be good at what you do and not be famous. I write to share stories, not because I’m trying to publicly complete my personality.) But it’s a happy life.


Copywriting-wise, I had a great experience yesterday using Scrivener in practice for the first time.

I’m rewriting the bios for my client’s website; this company offers workshops for successful entrepreneurs, and they’ve discovered that the most visited pages on their site are the ones about the coaches for this program. Makes sense: people want to know who’s going to be taking them through this process. So I’m trying to write warmer, more human profiles of these people – like magazine articles – rather than the current resume-style corporate bios.

I’m working from audio interviews my editor’s done with these coaches, the websites for the coaches’ own businesses, and the existing bios. Well, with Scrivener, I could pull these all together – writing in the top pane, tracking through the audio in the bottom, having the person’s headshot in the bottom-right panel, and checking in with the corkboard outline for the current section in the top-right pane. When I was finished my first draft, I went into the fullscreen mode to block out distractions and polished up the collected ‘scrivenings’, then compiled it all and sent it to my editor.

It was just the perfect way to work!