If you want a very quick study in desktop publishing, then I suggest
you visit your local copy shop (YLCS). I use Kinko's because they are
the closest and I've used them for so long that most of the employees
know me by sight (if not by name).
YLCS is not the most cost
effective means of creating merchandise, but as a publisher you will
have need of flyers, postcards, prints, and a variety of other swag.
Often, you will need this swag in a very short time. It is in this time
of need that YLCS will become your best friend.
I use my local Kinko's to create ashcan preview editions and black and white prints.
ashcans are generally 5.5" x 8.5 (8.5"x 11" folded in the half and
stapled). These are usually no more than 10-16 pages (5-8 pages folded)
plus a cardstock cover. Generally, I do these in print runs of at least
25 and the cost per unit is about $1.50.
My black and white
prints are generally 11" x 17" on cardstock or some variation thereof.
I, generally, get 10-20 copies for an initial run and continue to
reprint as needed. These cost about 25¢-50¢ each.
When out of
town for conventions, I always make a mental note of the location of
the nearest copy center. I always keep my storage web site up-to-date
with my most recent prints, so that at any time I can grab a print and
replenish my stock.
My first self-published item that actually
sold out at a convention was an ashcan preview edition of Warmageddon
Illustrated #1. I had a print run of 50 and debuted at the Wizard World
Philly 2005. They sold for $10 each and more than paid for the entire
cost of the convention.