Important Questions To Ask Books Printers

If you are an author that has chosen the self publishing model, it is possible for you to write, edit, proof-read and typeset your work entirely. However, unless you also own a printing company, this job is one that should be left totally to the experts.

Understand that there are many costly complications that can occur in the printing process. That's why you should seek out a printing company that specialises in books; not the ones that also do business cards or letterheads, but the book printing companies that solely concentrate on books, day in day out.

Before meeting with book printers, here are some of the questions that you should ask yourself:

What size do you want your book?

There are many different sizes and you have the choice to make your book any size you want, however, you should note that the printing presses are designed for certain dimensions – A-size; B-size, B-plus, C-format, Quarto; and so forth. So while you can customise you dimensions, it is highly recommended to follow the set dimensions otherwise you will end up paying for the larger size only to have unused dimensions cut of the sides.

What paper do I use?

The answer to this question depends on the number of pages and whether you wish to increase the perceived value of the book. For example, the Bible contains a lot of pages so to use bulky paperback would not be a good idea; hence the numerous bibles that use extremely thin paper.

If a publisher has a set price they want to put on a book they may bulk the book up by using a thicker paper. However, bulky paper doesn't work well for books with a lot of graphics and photographs because it will absorb the colour too much. So if you have a lot of images then you need a high-bright paper (it looks white and is slightly thinner) where the colour bleeds less.

What type of cover do I want?

Firstly you need to decide whether you want a hard or soft cover. Then if you want a hard cover are you going to print on the cover or are going to have a jacket? If you go with a soft cover is your design going to be matt or gloss? Are you going to use design techniques such as embossing (where the letters have been punched out and the letters are raised like Braille) or spot varnish (where the light picks up part of the cover)? What costs are involved with each approach?

Do I want bookmarks?

This a great promotional tool that is cheap and easy. However, if you decide to print bookmarks then make sure you tell your printer before they start printing. The reason for this is that when they print your cover, they usually have left over space on the paper which allows for them to print the bookmarks at the same time. This means if you are a good negotiator often you can secure a large volume of bookmarks at no cost.

How many books do I print?

This is always the million dollar questions, as price it influenced dramatically by the number of books that you print. If it's your first time then you should look at a short print runs, like 100-200 copies. Typically this will be done digitally and will cost you a lot more to print each individual book. However you now have something to show your database, clients, publishers, the media and other members of your audience. After evaluating everyone feedback, you can then make all of the necessary changes and then think about doing larger print runs.

Printing can be a complicated stage in the book production process and one that can become clouded with the many decisions that need to be made. However, if you are clear on what you want and articulate these ideas to your printer then you should be able to minimise any problems that may occur.


Dale Beaumont is the author of this article. He is an internationally renowned book publishing expert, the author of 16 best-selling books and the creator of the Get Published Secrets Program.  

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