How to Increase Book Sales: Metadata for Books    Chapter 8 of 11

Chapter 8

Picking the Right Trim Size for Your Book

Your book’s trim size, also known as the height and width of your book, is one of the distinguishing pieces of book information you provide as book metadata. You may go to your bookshelf and pull down your favorite four books and notice that they are all 6x9. There! Decision made! But not so fast. When choosing a trim size for the book you are about to publish; the decision should be based on these factors:

  1. What is the best trim size for your genre in particular?
  2. What sizes are established publishers using for their books in your genre?
  3. How might your trim size affect a book industry professional's opinion of your book?
  4. Will the trim size you choose dramatically impact the page count and print pricing of your book?

1. Reference Traditionally Published Books

There are a few steps you can take to determine the best trim size for your book. Each month, take a look at the USA Today bestseller list, the Amazon top-sellers, and the New York Times bestseller lists and compile a list of the most common trim sizes they all have. This list also tells you what sizes established publishers are choosing based on their research. Any time you can borrow research from companies that have a lot more money and several more years in the business than you, go for it. There’s a reason they are where they are.

2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

The reason you should pay attention to what traditional publishers are doing in regards to trim sizes is because book buyers, booksellers, librarians, even some savvy consumers are led and “trained” to think of professionally published books as the standard. If Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins all agree that 6x9 is not a great trim size for general fiction paperbacks, then your 6x9 general fiction paperback will look a little out of place. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel on trim size. This is one area where you don’t want to make an obscure choice in order to stand out. Choosing a trim size that doesn’t fit your genre or format makes you look less professional, and you don’t want that.

3. Consider Pricing

One reason to choose one trim size over another would be print pricing. For example, a 6x9 book will take up fewer pages than a 5x8 book. If the smaller trim size pushes your page count to a point where you cannot afford to print the book, then the larger print size makes more sense. But just defaulting to a certain trim size because you like the size or you think that it will remind readers of a hardcover is not a great idea. Make sure you make a choice that makes sense for your genre and your budget.

Below is a list of common categories and trim sizes for bestselling books in each category. If you want to emulate a successful publishing house, then consider the following trim sizes:

  • General Fiction  5.25x8
  • General Non-Fiction 5.5x8.5
  • Thrillers/Mysteries  5.25x8
  • YA General Fiction  5x7
  • YA Dystopian, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi  5.5x8.5
  • General Self Help  5.25x8
  • Inspirational/Spiritual  5x8
  • Memoir  5.25x8
  • Reference  6x9 and 7x10
  • Middle-Grade Fiction  5x8
  • Picture Books PB  8x8
  • Business  5.5x8.5 OR 5.25x8

Go to your local bookstore and get online. See what the major houses and your biggest competition are doing with their trim sizes. You can still choose to print in any size you wish, but you should know what the market is looking for right now. Buyers are human and like things that look like previous successes. Why not borrow from that phenomenon where you can?

This chapter was compiled from the following posts on the IngramSpark blog:

“Picking a Popular Trim Size for Your Book” by Amy Collins, President of New Shelves Books