Writing a book is the hard part. Publishing is easy, right? Realistically, publishing, distribution, and marketing may be easier than coming up with a truly amazing idea and putting it on paper, but there are still significant challenges you’ll need to overcome.
How do you prepare your book for print?
Solidifying Your Strategy
Preferably before your book is completed, you should take the time to solidify your strategy. What are you going to do with this once it’s ready for sale?
- Printing/publication. If you’re working with a book printer as a self-published author, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your budget. Read reviews and testimonials of online print shops carefully, and be sure to review options like cover style, paper stock, and binding with care. Hopefully, you’ll be able to estimate your cost of printing on a per-book basis, so you can speculate about pricing and marketing strategies.
- Distribution. Next, you’ll need to figure out a way to get the printed copies of your book into the hands of your readers. Starting a website, listing your book on major book exchanges, and shopping your book around to local bookstores are all great ways to start.
- Marketing and advertising. You’ll also need a strategy for marketing and advertising, since most people won’t magically know that your book now exists. Search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing are some of the most common options.
If you’re working with a publisher, they may help you with strategy on all of these aspects and more.
The Final Edit
Before you start finalizing your book files for printing, give them a final edit. Ideally, you’ll hire a professional to tackle this job for you, since it pays to get a second set of eyes on your work. Examine your material closely to validate its accuracy, clean up semantic errors, and fix any typos you encounter. If your writing has any obvious imperfections, it could reflect poorly on your abilities.
Cover Design and Formatting
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but many people do this by default. Designing a strategically optimized cover is practically necessary if you want people to notice your work, so it usually pays to work with a professional book cover designer.
Additionally, you’ll need to work with your printer to optimize your cover file for:
- Resolution. Your cover needs to be provided in a high-resolution format. Typically, that means providing a resolution of at least 300 dpi. To be printed, your cover also needs to use CMYK colors – not RGB.
- Fonts. Fonts should be embedded in the cover file, and depending on the printer you’re working with, some fonts may be restricted.
- Dimensions. Always consult with your printer to make sure you’re providing a file that fits the dimensions of your intended cover.
- File size. Your printer may also require your file to be under a specific file size, such as 1 GB.
You’ll also need to prepare the interior file of your book; most printers will readily accept a PDF, as long as your fonts are embedded and the PDF is a proper size. Be sure to talk to your printer directly to see if there are any other restrictions or criteria you need to meet. If you’re converting your text file, give it an additional read through to make sure nothing was lost in conversion.
Other Aesthetic Choices
You should also think about these (mostly) aesthetic decisions:
- Cover. You’ve probably already got a cover design in place, or at least an early version of your idea. At this point, you’ll need to think about what kind of cover you want and how you want your book to be bound.
- Paper stock. There are many types of paper stock that can be used in your book. Generally, thicker pages tend to be more durable and look more professional, but they also tend to be more expensive.
- Trim size. Smaller books are cheaper and more portable, but some types of books do better in a large format.
- Interior pages. How many pages do you want your book to be and how do you want to format those pages to facilitate the best possible reading experience for your audience?
With your book officially finished and ready for print, you’ll be well on your way to being a published author. From here, things get more exciting and a bit more complicated. With a good author website, a solid marketing and advertising strategy, and plenty of ongoing support, you can market your book to the masses, start selling copies, and generate income you can use to finance your next literary endeavor.