So, you have finally finished writing your book. You’ve edited it, given copies to friends and family, and received reviews. They were mostly favorable, and it seems that you are ready for book printing and publishing. You are thinking about trying the self-publishing route, but you have no idea how to submit your work, how it should be formatted, and what it should look like. Follow these tips to set up your file properly for book printing.

There are several considerations regarding self-publishing that you should pay attention to set up your file for book printing process. Anyone can make a simple PDF today, but if you intend on publishing under a self-publishing platform or ordering a real life print of your book, a different set of considerations apply. You will have to pay attention to formatting, fonts, special interactivity in your book, HTML5, the cover images, page sizes, ISBN numbers, and much more to set up your file properly.

Check Guidelines to Set Up Your File Properly for Book Printing

Most of the self-publishing services available publish their own guidelines. This is their chance of informing you about how to format your file so that it will be compatible with their printing press. The guidelines usually include formatting, fonts, page sizes, and the exact format of submission (PDF, ePUB, MOBI, and others). You can also contact these companies by email or phone and ask them for clarification or help. So, make sure you find and read the guidelines posted on their websites.

Set Up Your File Properly: Formatting

To set up your file, there are several points to consider when dealing with formatting. The first is the file format you are going to submit to the printer. Self-publishing services usually accept PDF as a universally accepted format for publishing electronic documents, and this is because of its robustness and widespread compatibility. Some other companies require different formats, like ePUB or MOBI.

Most usually provide easy means of conversion of your PDF/DOC/ODT file into their own or give you tips on how to do this conversion on your own. You should be careful and recheck the converted file so that you avoid any errors in conversion that will destroy your formatting. Bleed and safety zones are also a significant point you should consider. These make the difference between a fine piece of art and a cut-down unprofessional-looking book.

Some self-publishing companies designate desirable or mandatory fonts that you should use when submitting your file. They are often TrueType fonts, but can include Adobe standards and others, too. These rules sometimes include line spacing, text alignment and justification, and paragraph style.

To set up your file, the colors you want to use while printing are also important. Some printers require converting your graphical elements from an RGB (red/green/blue) to a CMYK format (cyan/magenta/yellow/key), as virtually all printers use this format. The usual issues when printing with the colors come with black and blue. Sometimes, black doesn’t print like black; it looks more like grey.

To amend this, you should use the so-called ‘rich black,’ which includes black and a combination of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Additionally, the blue color sometimes prints with a purplish hue. This can usually be fixed by increasing the difference between the cyan and magenta values.

Page size is important as well. There are three standard sizes: 8.5” x 11”, 6” x 9”, and 5.5” x 8.5”. You can often choose a custom size, too. Try the conversion in your typing program first, so that you find out how it would look in different sizes.

Sometimes, printing companies publish rules about the other minor formatting issues to set up your file, like the size and form of headers and footers, format of footnotes and quotes, position of the page numbering, line spacing, heading formats, indentation, etc. Be sure to follow them so you save time and receive the best print available.


Additionally, pay a lot of attention to proofreading. Since you wrote your book, it may pay to engage with a vigorous reader or readers who you think can help you eliminate typing mistakes. An error here or there is expected in the final print, but a reader who constantly has to battle with typos will not consider your work professional enough and may just avoid it. You don’t want that.

Set Up Your File Properly: Cover design

Don’t judge a book by its cover, but if a book has an unattractive cover, you probably won’t pick it up. This applies for your own book, too. To set up your file, it pays to involve a graphic designer to help make your cover an impressive one. The cover should also comply with the size rules provided by the printing service, and in some cases, you can include your printer logo for a discount. In short, your cover should be impressive, well-designed, bold, eye-grabbing, and provocative.

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To ISBN or Not to ISBN — That Is the Question

ISBN stand for International Standard Book Number. It is an international 10-digit standard that includes various information, including country group, registrant information, publisher information, title number, and check number. An ISBN number provides international recognition of your book and eases tracking of sales and royalties.

However, you can opt out of obtaining and including an ISBN altogether. There are countries in which getting an ISBN costs a fortune. You may want to avoid an ISBN for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, when self-publishing a book, you can avoid including an ISBN and get on with your print.

Rights Management

You should spend some time thinking through rights management of the content in your book. Some self-publishing printer companies state in their terms and conditions that they explicitly forbid including copyrighted material in the file you send them for print. Others require you to obtain proof of rights availability, so that you can include such material.

Some transfer all responsibility for rights management solely to you and deny any responsibility. You should also check with your printer for the rights of your own copies and whether you keep all rights for publishing and selling.

Employ an Editor

And finally, there are people who have gone through all the above on their own or for a client. They can help you out with the procedure, take care of your printing file, and help you communicate with graphic designers, proofreaders, and others to make sure you get the best pre-publishing file there can be.

They can even use their connections to acquire rebates for you, market placement, and distribution. They know this stuff, so use them and save yourself some time while avoiding headaches. This is all you need to set up your file that you will submit to your printer company so they can make an exact and quality real-life copy of your book.

The feeling of holding a printed copy of your work in your hands is priceless. Therefore, make sure that you set up your file properly for book printing. If you follow the guidelines, you will create a product that you’ll be proud of for years to come.

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