Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Authors Need to Know about Book Production

by Cecile Kaufman

The success of your book design and production depends to some extent on the materials that you deliver to the designer. These are some general guidelines.

Start with the Trim Size
The first thing your book designer needs to know, before beginning the design, is what the size of your book will be. Just as you would not buy the materials to build a shed without first deciding how big it should be, so does your designer need to know what page size she will be working with before beginning the design. There are standard book sizes; for instance, a typical trade paperback book would be 6 inches × 9 inches or 5.5 inches × 8.5 inches. Because some book printers can print more efficiently at one of these sizes than at the other, you will also want to choose your printer right at the beginning of the process. Also, if you want to get a quote from a printer, have your designer do so before you create your book, because you will need to know the trim size.

Raster and Vector
If you have images in your book each one will  be either a raster image or a vector image. Raster images are made up of tiny squares (pixels), and the resolution of a raster image is measured in pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi). These images are typically photographs or illustrations that have been scanned. Although there may be some leeway, depending on the image and how it will be printed, a general rule of thumb is that  raster images need to be 300 ppi or dpi at the size at which they will be printed or larger. The size is important: larger is always acceptable, but smaller is not. This is because you cannot enlarge a raster image very much before it begins to look pixelated (jagged, broken into small squares).
Vector graphics, on the other hand, are made up of points and paths determined by an algorithm. These images can be enlarged without loss of quality. Usually vector graphics that are used in print publishing will have the extension .eps. Fonts are also vector graphics.
If you are submitting scans of type or line art, for instance, a newspaper article with just type, that scan should be between 600 and 2400 dpi, and saved as “bitmap.” Although the scan is a representation of type, it is still a rasterized image, just as a photo would be, and if it is to look as crisp as real vector type would look, it needs to have additional resolution.

Name Your Files Intentionally
A consistent and understandable convention for naming files is very helpful and is the easiest way to avoid having images placed in the wrong places. A typical naming scheme would be to number the images, using three digits, like this:


In this way, when importing images into the page layout program, the designer will see a list that is in order, and can easily pick the correct number from the list. In the manuscript Word file, there should be a corresponding note to indicate approximately where the image should be placed, such as “insert ‘greatbook_006.tif ’ about here.”

Style Your File
Style your Word document: give each paragraph a paragraph style, or have your copy editor do so. You do not want your designer to be deciding whether an element should be a first-level heading or second-level heading, That decision is one you or your editor should make. If you are using Word, select the text, and choose the style from the drop-down menu to apply it.

Stick to the Stages
Developmental editing comes before copyediting, which always comes before layout. Design also comes before layout, and design changes usually should not be made after layout has begun. Making many copyediting changes after the pages have been laid out will incur extra costs and takes more time; it also increases the risk of mistakes especially in books which have many images (because significant changes will cause reflow of the text). Proofreading comes after the pages are laid out. Making changes after the proofreading stage should be done very carefully and someone should check the surrounding pages to make sure no text has reflowed.

The Cleaner the Manuscript . . .
In general the cleaner the manuscript is at the beginning, the cleaner it will be at each of the following stages, and the smoother the production process will be. If you understand these basics of book production then you  will have a head start on a successfully produced book.

Cecile Kaufman is a graphic designer, editor, project manager, and print buyer with over twenty years experience in publishing and commercial graphic arts. In 1999 she founded X-Height Studio, which specializes in publication design and offers full publishing services from concept to final printed product. The studio has provided print design and production, editorial services, project management, and print buying services for a wide range of clients.