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How to Publish a Book: 8 points to check before printing your book.

Posted by in Books for Sale , Self Publishing on May 25, 2011

You have written your book. It is now looking neat and tidy in perhaps a Word document format. The manuscript is spell checked and proof read.  You are finally happy with the content and you are ready to publish your book. So now what do you do? Now you need to know how to publish a book.

Here is a list of 8 things you need to decide and check on before you embark on printing and the publish a book journey.

1. Book Size. This is the starting point. Before you publish a book you need to decide on what size do you want your book (width and height). Books come in all shapes and sizes, just look along a library bookshelf. However to keep the printing costs down you need to keep the page count to a minimum, so the larger the page size the less pages you will need.  Take a look at similar books to yours. What size are they? Are they Portrait or Landscape? If it is a fiction book then make sure it is small enough to carry around. Nonfiction book size will depend on the contents. If there are lots of pictures and graphics it may suit a larger format. Also think about how the book will sit on the book shelf. Don’t produce an odd size or shape that is too big or awkward for a standard bookcase.

2. Hardback or Paperback. Also described as Case Bound and Perfect Bound. The publishing industry has invariably launched a new title as a hard back only, bringing the paperback out some months later. This seems to be a hangover from the days when books only had hard covers. Hardbacks also have a higher Retail Price to cover costs and to achieve a bigger margin to harvest the ‘initial’ surge of sales for profit. Hardback books are more costly to produce so the price of the book will be higher. When you publish a book can the book achieve the sales wanted at that price as opposed to a cheaper paperback version? Hardback books are also heavier than paperbacks so they will cost more to deliver. Think carefully about the hardback versus paperback options. Does the book REALLY need to be hardback?

3. Layout. How the book is laid out is important to how the book ‘feels’ to a reader. Poor layout will make the book harder to read and less inviting as a purchase. A decent Word processor is sufficient for books of mainly text. A few basic rules include:

  • Keep blank pages on the left. When you open a book you immediately look at the right hand page. So start all your new chapters on the right hand page.
  • Page numbering should be kept ONLY for pages with content. Do not number blank pages, title page, the copyright page and any other ‘advertising/promotion’ type pages.
  • Make sure any blank page is truly ‘blank’. In other words no page numbers, no titles or sub headings etc.
  • All ‘odd’ page numbers should be on the right hand page. If the 1st chapter starts on the right hand page then this defines page 1.
  • Do not use ‘Right unjustified’ text. The right hand side of all your text should be justified to the right hand margin (unlike the text in this article which is ragged right justified).

4. Fonts. Choosing the right font typeface for the book can make the difference to your book being read or not. If the choice of font is not ‘easy’ on the eye the readers may well not finish reading the book. Some points to consider when using fonts include:

  • Use fonts consistently throughout the book. Chapter content should use the same font. Chapter headings should use the same font.
  • If you are using ‘styles’ to your font such as bold or italic, use a font that has those included as part of the font set. Do not use a word processors bold or italic functions on a normal font. This can distort the printed text on high quality printing.
  • Do not use Times Roman or Times New Roman which tends to be a default font in many word processors. This font does not work particularly well for large blocks of text.
  • Do use Serif fonts (except Times Roman as above) for the main body text such as Garamond, Bookman Old Style, Book Antiqua, Bembo, Janson, Carlson and Electra. These are just a small selection.
  • Use a font ‘point’ size and line spacing that is ‘easy’ on the eye. A point size of between 10 and 12 is common.

5. ISBN. When you publish a book if the book is to be made available widely across the book trade then it will need and ISBN number. This number will allow a book retailer to search for and order the book from their suppliers (in most cases). If the book has no ISBN number then it will only be available through the sources the author organises to sell it from.

6. Copyright Page. Also known as the ‘Verso’ page contains important information about the book. The main items will be:

  • Who owns the Copyright
  • Reservation of rights notice detailing what the author/publisher will allow the content to be used for without permission.
  • Details on where the book can be ordered from – Publisher / Printer details
  • Edition of the book – 1st, 2nd edition etc

7. Pricing your Book. The book selling price for a self published book is set by the cost to print the book, any distribution and commission costs plus the margin the author wants. Book cost can be minimised by reducing the page count (less pages equals less printing costs) but this has to be offset against a larger page size which may not work for the book. Font size and line spacing can be reduced to ‘squeeze’ the text together to reduce pages but at the cost of making the book harder to read. Look at similar books and price at a similar level. A discount can always be applied against the selling price.

8. Book Cover. With the growth of Internet book sales comes a challenge to design a book cover that will standout at a small ‘thumbnail’ size on a computer screen. The cover needs to make an impact when customers are scrolling through lists of books online. The graphic and text also needs to work in both bricks and mortar and online book stores. The size of the cover is the size of the book for the front and back covers plus the spine width and a small (3mm) ‘bleed’ on each edge. The spine width will be calculated from the number of pages and the paper weight. The back cover will include a short synopsis of the book and perhaps a few words about the author. If the book has an ISBN number then a Barcode including the ISBN is included on the back cover. The Retail Price must also be printed on the cover.

Remember this is only a book you are designing not a nuclear powered submarine! Following these points will help you produce a good looking, readable book. The REALLY important part is the content. We hope these How to Publish a Book: 8 points to check before printing your book are useful. Back to you.

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  • For these guidelines to be properly implemented, it is best that the author should just concentrate writing her masterpiece story and leave all the layout and formatting to a good book designer.