How to Create a Print Book

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In the age of digital media, everybody and their brother has the capability of reading books online and on digital devices. But what if you want your books to exist in the flesh (or, in the print)? If you’re one of the many authors who dreams of holding their book with their own two hands, we’ve got the information you need to succeed. It’s relatively straightforward to create a print book, then make it available through Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple, as well as local brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries, by following these general guidelines:

Print Creation Files

The first step in achieving a print book is to create a beautiful one using design tools available (InDesign, PressBooks, etc.) and then create a PDF. You can save almost any file as a PDF by selecting “Export” as PDF, by using the “Save As” function and choosing the PDF file format, or by clicking “Print” and “Print to PDF”.

Creating a print book of standard size entails using a template that gives you the proper specs of a book built in. The most common size for a paperback book is 6x9 inches, but you might choose 5.5x8.5 if you have a shorter book. You’ll also be able to choose paper weights and colors (white versus cream) and cover finishes (glossy or matte).

Some book creation templates and tools provide placeholder title and copyright pages, acknowledgements, a table of contents, and about-the-author pages.

Interior book creation tools and templates give you the structure you need, while still allowing you to make decisions about styles and formatting. You can change your formatting options with the click of a button, and pay to see a hard-copy preview. These days, previews are inexpensive, and we recommend them highly – the low cost of viewing a preview could save you the higher costs of printing a quantity of books that don’t look as expected or, worse yet, delivered to customers via the online retailers. Viewing your book on a screen just won’t do the print copy justice.

Cover and Interior Files

When uploading your book make sure you follow their exact specifications, expectations, and formatting rules. IngramSpark requires that you use two separate PDF files: one for the exterior (the cover, binding, and back of the book), and one for the interior of the book. This will keep your book in order and ensure a clean print copy.

You can also choose the weight of the paper used in printing your e-book, depending on your budget and what will suit the feel of the book itself. You’ll be able to choose between cream and white paper (cream is most commonly used for immersive books like novels and creative non-fiction, and white for non-fiction books like how-tos).

Printing Options

You can print a proof, deliver books on-demand (POD) to the online retailers, print a short run or use high volume printing to print thousands of books.

You won’t need more than a couple of proofs since you’ll likely be doing some changes to the final version based on mistakes you find or stylistic changes. Printing a proof is an important step in the process, giving you the opportunity to see your book exactly how readers will see it. You can print proofs, make changes, repeat, until you’re sure that your book is just right.

POD is the most common option these days. It protects the author from the risk of losing money because there isn’t a large inventory stockpiled somewhere, collecting dust. POD allows you to only print the number of copies you really need. It’s the most low-cost and efficient way to print your book if you don’t need high-ranging numbers of copies. Buying a few hundred print copies means you can sell autographed books, give them away to increase circulation, and hand them to important people in the industry.

High volume printing is used to print books in the thousands. If you already have a designated purpose for these books or know you’re going to meet this high volume in sales, this may be the option for you.


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IngramSpark Staff

Hi there! It's your friendly IngramSpark staff here, happily sharing a wealth of publishing knowledge with people from all walks of the self-publishing biz.