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Ways to self-publish octavo-sized music

I've done most of my "self-publishing" work by delivering you-print-it PDFs. However, successful and convenient as that has been, time after time... there shortly may (if all goes well) be a need for me to actually PUBLISH music, at or close-to-at octavo (or "mistaken for octavo at arm's length") size.
I can find plenty of "print on demand" houses for BOOKS, but Googling "music print on demand" gets me publisher's site after publisher's site, at which you can buy THEIR music, printed on demand. I have yet to find a "print YOUR music on demand" service. Doesn't mean it's not out there... but I haven't found it.
I suppose I could go to Kinko's and have them fold and cut things, but that seems like a good way to get things done not particularly correctly, time after time, and in bulk. No complaints about Kinko's! But the charm of done-by-hand is that each creation is unique, which is exactly what I don't need in this circumstance.
Any suggestions, or people whom I should contact who might have said suggestions?
Thanks so much for the help!
on April 17, 2012 8:49pm
Robert:  Any print shop can produce printed, folded, bound (if appropriate) music for you in any size and configuration that you specify.  That's their business.  But please note that I said PRINT shop and not COPY shop.  They can start with large sheets of paper and they can and will cut it to size.  If you want slick (varnished) paper you can get it.  If you want color and can pay for it, you can get it.
You will, of course, pay for their services, and you can't expect the charges to be as low as they would be at a copy shop that uses standard paper in standard sizes and (sometimes) standard binding techniques, although for large runs the charges will probably be LESS per copy.  And you'll want to be very clear about exactly what you want, what weight paper, and so on, but they are the professionals and they can advise you.  Since octavo size is a very old European size (obtained by folding a large sheet three times, giving you folio, quarto, and octavo sizes), it may not be readily available precut unless you're willing to pay for a full ream of large paper, and you may end up paying for wasteage when they cut U.S. paper to size, but they can do it and they will do it.
And since their presses normally run at very high speeds, it's industry standard to define a print run as a certain number plus or minus, so you probably won't get an exact number of copies in each run, and of course you'll pay more per copy for a small run than for a larger one, so that is where a copy shop can come in handy.  But even then, you can order your own paper through a print shop, in the size you want it.
Quality and consistency is available.  Inexpensive is available.  But cheap and quality probably is not!
All the best,
on April 17, 2012 10:31pm
Here is a previous thread about this: <>;
I'm assuming in my answer that your notation program, Finale or Sibelius or??, can print octavo size. I use Sibelius and I'm pretty sure it does, though I'm too lazy to look right now!

I don't know what kind of printer you may have at home, but will suggest (as a former offset print shop owner) that you can buy 11 x 17 paper and take it to a print shop (not just a copy shop, an actual offset printer) and have it cut down to size for probably around $3 a cut per ream.  Or you might be able to go to the print shop directly and ask if they have paper they can cut and sell you (decide ahead of time what weight paper you want.  A writer in the thread I linked suggests 50#).  Call around to print shops in your area first.  Then keep the paper on hand and print to order.  (The big "if" here is if your printer can handle the size of the unfolded sheet, roughly 10x14 according the the writers of the above thread).  You'll have to put it throught the printer twice for two-sided.  Or if you have access to a decent office copy machine, you can use the tray for hand-feeding special sizes, and print 2 sided (2sided to 2sided).
If you have the pre-cut paper on hand, you can print the amounts ordered as needed, collate, then fold.  There's a trick to hand folding: collate first, do several at once, fold the fronts ever so slightly larger then the back for the neatest look (ends up looking equal).  Score the fold with your fingernail, then separate, put in a pile, and press again using fingernail.  Once you get the hang of it, this can be a much more efficient way than folding one octavo at a time.
Feel free to email me directly if any of this is unclear.  Good luck!
Lisa Mischke
Eugene, OR
on April 18, 2012 5:21am
You may find that a high school in the area may have a print shop for training and will give you great prices. I use 11x17 for added ease and profit.
Jerome Malek
on April 18, 2012 6:43am
For now, my self publishing solution is to print at home on standard legal size paper using a standard home printer. This creates a score that is slightly smaller than standard octavo, but acceptable. Not perfect.... But suits my needs for now.
on April 18, 2012 6:50am
I've done a few batches - some on an office copier; one with a professional printer.  I print to 8.5x11, then produce a two-sided 11x17 master with a 10% reduction from the original size.  It takes some care to get the alignment the same on both sides of the reduction, but you can figure it out.  Then I get two-sided copies on 67-lb. 11x17 paper.  Since my runs have been small, I've cut and folded them myself.  The result is a little wider than octavo, but fits in folders pretty well.
on May 7, 2012 8:14pm
I do all my arrangements in 8.5 x 11 format.  I figure if the piece is good enough, the purchaser will find a way to adapt the printed PDF to their style of folder.  My choruses have always used standard 3 ring binders.
Best of luck!
on April 11, 2014 7:01am
Hi Robert,
I was doing some searches on the net for choral octavo dimension sizes, and came across this post.  I work for J.W. Pepper & Son ( and I believe we may offer a solution that you have been looking for in regards to print on demand services for your self published music.  J.W. Pepper now offers a service called MyScore ( where composers or self publishers can sign up and have a landing page with your composer bio information (or self publisher) and we handle the distribution of your music through our website for BOTH traditional print and ePrint services.  We offer all professional quality finishing needs such as Octavo size booklet and saddle stitching, all the way to full band sets printed in score order with hard shell covers and part counts.  We currently handle print on demand services for publishers such as Shawnee press/KJOS Music/Lorenz and MANY more.  There is a one time sign up fee, but that is only to get started, this is not contract based and we do not own the rights to your music.  We do offer superior service to getting your music printed and sold! 
If you have any questions about the service please feel free to contact me or one of our reps for MyScore here at Pepper. ;
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