The first time you load your print book files to a printer’s website can be daunting; all that publishing jargon. Here’s a guide to what the terms mean and the standard choices for self-published works.
Trade vs Mass Market
The usual paperback novel is released in mass-market format, approximately 4″ x 6.5″ with newsprint pages. The majority of self-published works are released in trade paperback, a larger size with higher quality paper.
The finished size of your trade paperback book. There are a number of standard sizes, 6″ x 9″ being the most common. Your Friendly Formatter prefers the slightly smaller size of 5.5″ x 8.5″ that fits more easily into shelves, purses, and backpacks. When printing a book, the edges of the pages don’t always line up perfectly so the book comes off the printing press a bit bigger and then trimmed to size, nice and neat. The pages of your book should be exactly the same size.
Interior Colour and Paper
There are two elements here. After selecting the interior colour, a few more items will pop open. These are for the colour of the paper.
Think ink, as in printer cartridges. The standard is black and white which prints as black text with greyscale images. Children’s illustrated books and coffee table books will be full colour. Your formatter should have given you an appropriate pdf.
White paper is standard in North America, cream in Europe. White is thinner paper, so it’s less expensive to print and ship. Cream paper is thicker, more expensive to print and ship, and can sometimes be a little too yellow. Your cover designer calculated the spine width based on the chosen thickness.
When an image goes to the very edge of a page like in a picture book, the image is said to bleed. If your book has page margins, you do not have bleed.
This refers to how the pages are put together. Perfect bound (the standard) is glued together. Saddle stitching puts staples down the centre of a slender book of less than 48 pages; this is sometimes called a chapbook.
Choose either glossy or matte. Glossy produces better colour with photographic images. Matte has a silky feel.
The number of pages as shown in the PDF viewer, including both sides of the paper. Must be an even number.
For information on pricing your print book, see Pricing Your Print Book.
Always request a physical proof. You never know what could go wonky. I’ve seen wrong sized books, chapter headings the turned into boxes, fonts gone AWOL; you just can’t predict it and, should it ever come to an argument, you have proof that the book is yours and it was done correctly.