Being a printer we of course are getting files all of the time for the printing of books and while many are appropriate, quite a few are less than so. I will do my best here to list some of the pitfalls along with adding some help on the proper way to handle the situation so that your book printing comes out to the best of your expectations. Here are some, but not all, of the mistakes folks make with their book printing project.
1-Amateure Looking Cover: Just because you used Word to create your text by yourself, do not assume that a cover for your book printing project is OK also created in Word. First and foremost, you are a writer and more than likely not a graphic artist. Let a professional handle this part of the project. Also Word, unless you are a master with it will default the images to a non printable 72 dpi, which is just 5% of the pixels needed for high resolution printing.
2-Improper PDF File: While you may be able to get away with text created in Word and having done so quite well, the printing company will not accept your files. This is because Word is not a stable graphics program and things can shift in the flow of copy, even from computer to computer using the same version. This is why a book printer will not accept Word as a printing file for books or anything else. You can easily resolve this creating a PDF file from the Word document. The two things I will tell you though when doing so are to be sure to uncheck the box that is the default setting for fonts. You want to load in your fonts in case the printer needs to make last minute changes on your behalf. The second issue is to watch out when using text or image boxes. The space they take up is large, unlike a graphics program and it may cover over text, which then will not print. Word does not export to a PDF, so you will need the Acrobat or similar program.
3-Non Efficient Book Size: Book printers set up the press utilizing signatures. A signature which can be anywhere from 16 to 64 pages, depending on page size and press and after “imposition” by the pre press department at the book printer’s, the pages are laid out in anything but a reader’s format. They are laid out so that once folded, they then fall into a reader’s order. Size does matter when printing books. It matters in that the more pages out of a single form and if an even amount of forms, the more efficient on the book printing press and thus your wallet. If you choose an oddball size, assuming the book printing company will even accept it, you will have a poor yield from the signature and a corresponding poor price for the job. The answer is size your book for the best yield and typically that is 5 3/8 x 8 3/8” for a standard soft cover or hard cover book.
4-Non Risky Layout: Make sure that you are not cramming in too much copy onto a page. It not only looks amateurish when copy runs up close to the edge, but you are taking a risk that it will get cut off during the book printing production. Allow at least 3/8” all around if on a web press, where most runs of 500 or more are done. This is because book printing presses tend to be the older printing presses and have more “jiggle” or movement of the roll and thus if any copy is too near the trim edge, you risk losing some of it when trimmed.
5-Bad Planning In Book Run Amount: While most books will not sell as much as the writer will hope for, if there is any chance of sales at all do not print less than you need. If you have a solid belief that you actually can sell 2,000 books and if your cash flow can allow for it, print 3,000 books. The reason for this is that a third of the cost of running a book printing press is start up and once running, these high speed presses make each additional thousand much more affordable than the first thousand. You never want to go back on the press in the same year for another run, if you can plan to print a bit more as the difference will astound you.
6-The Spine Is Too Thin: If the spine is too thin, or too fat for your book, then the dimensions for the entire cover are off and can wreck the overall look of the cover and possibly even render it non usable. The book printing company will have a chart that they can use in order to give your designer the spine width sizing based on your page count as well as the paper the book is being printed on. It is also a good thing to not have drastically different art and colors moving from the front cover to spine to rear cover as if so and your spine is not sized correctly, color that belonged only on the front cover, will wind up on the spine.
7-Pay Extra, Coat the Cover: As you are making an investment in the printing of your book, you will want to do everything you can to protect your investment in your book printing venture. Therefore use a coating on the cover. Your book may wind up coming back as a returned item and it will be handled by the printer, yourself, a distributer, a retailer and a purchaser. The more it is handled the more wear and tear until it is no longer sellable. The best bang for the buck is UV coating, which in most instances it is put on via rollers. It is harder and more durable than Aqueous or varnish, yet not as expensive as film lamination, although it has the same appearance.
8-Bonus Item: Color Pages: If you require color pages among the black only ones, try and set up your book so that all the color falls between black only signatures and ideally all together in one signature of its own for the best book printing pricing possible. You can facilitate this by having an asterisk or numeral, which points to a footnote telling the reader where the color page may be found. Mixing in color with the black ink signatures is costly as a single full color page will cause you to pay for at least half that signature as a full color signature.
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