Because this guide focuses on books with a lot of images, you are going to need computer software that lets you format graphics to a certain size and move text and graphics around how you want them. Many artists make handmade books, paper, and stitch their own binding. There is nothing wrong with going handmade, but this guide is for self publishing a book with a computer.
A working Macintosh or Windows computer are both acceptable.
An image scanner may be necessary if your artwork is in your hands, but not yet on your computer as digital images. Scanners are sometimes combined with home printers, so you may already have one. A library or public computer lab might also have a scanner you can use. I will talk more about image scanning in a later step. You may also need a decent quality digital camera to take pictures of your images if they are too large to scan.
You will need software for preparing your images & graphics.
You will need Adobe Photoshop or Corel Draw or a similar program to edit and format your raster graphics. Raster graphics are pixel-based and limited by size & resolution (think: photograph). GIMP is a free alternative to Photoshop. Adobe Illustrator is the most popular program for vector graphics. Vector graphics are mathematical, point-based, completely resizeable, and unlimited in size (think: a logo or text). Some people may not need both Photoshop and Illustrator, but that is dependant on the types of graphics you work with. Many artists use their own unique combination of several programs and techniques. It should not be a problem if you have different programs you prefer to work with.
You will also need software for laying out your book pages & structure.
Adobe InDesign is the recommended layout program for bringing all of your images, text, and pages together in one place for printing. QuarkXPress is a respected alternative to InDesign. A program like Photoshop will only allow you to edit individual pages or images. A page layout program is essential for bringing all the images & text together to finalize everything for the printer of your book.
Each program has a specific functionality.
InDesign and Quark are layout programs that bring together the design elements, graphics, and fonts of your book. Layout programs work as a hub for your book data, and you place graphics into the program. InDesign offers the ability to crop and edit both raster and vector graphics, but is limited. Some people might find InDesign alone powerful enough to create their book, but most image-makers will want another graphics program, like Photoshop or Illustrator or Corel Draw. Please do not attempt to create your images in Microsoft Word, or another program not meant for graphics - it will only lead to headaches.
If you don't know how, teach yourself. I learn with Lynda!
The task of learning new software and hardware might seem daunting, but it is good for all of us to learn new things. Knowledge is power, as they say. Adobe programs are not that difficult to use. I strongly encourage you to check out the instructional videos at Lynda.com. Lynda Weinman is an author and resource I have trusted and looked to since 1996. You'll be amazed at how well-made and helpful her videos are. I have no doubt you'll want to learn everything they offer when you see their massive library. Get 7 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com. Check them out!
If you don't have the time to learn, then you'll probably need a graphic designer to help.
Consider hiring me for freelance design. There are ways we could work together to simplify the process. If you are skilled in Photoshop, you could prepare the images and I could set them up for the printer in InDesign. Or I could help you create your book in it's entirely. Let's talk.
If you have the software you need installed and you're ready, let's start preparing images!