Formats and sizes

Deciding on the size of your book is one of the largest budgeting choices that you will need to make.

Don’t hesitate to talk with your designer about this; they can help you figure out your options, understand print terminologies and jargon, get quotes for printing costs, and ultimately help you make the best decisions for your book.
Size is a tricky term when it comes to books: does it mean the size of the page or the number of pages?
Here are some terms of the trade:

Extent: this is the number of pages in the book. Bear in mind that your manuscript may be reduced (or even extended) during the editing process, so it’s wise not to quote a word-count to your designer until after the editing process.

Format: this covers the physical dimensions of the page, whether it’s hardback or soft-cover, and whether it’s portrait (tall) or landscape (wide). Note: this is not to be confused with ‘formatting’, which is what happens at the typesetting stage.

You will need to know the size of your book – whether its shape is to be portrait (tall) or landscape (wide), and your book designer or illustrator will need to know this too. You will also need to know the format and a rough extent, as well as a notion of your desired print run, before you can obtain printing costs. Size, shape and print run will all have a large effect on your production costs and how you set your unit price when selling your book. Sometimes it’s easiest to work backwards: find a book you really like (and which looks or feels similar to what you have in mind for your own), measure it, then get printer quotes for a range of print runs and a range of page extents.

Don’t skimp on preparing the print details: this is the most expensive part of producing your book, so you must always get print quotes first. And remember, these quotes will only be as accurate as the information you supply. What type of stock (paper) will you use? Are you printing in colour or black-and-white? Will your cover have any embellishments (e.g. gold foil, embossing, matt laminate)? And remember that we’re here to help; you’ll find a few more pointers on print here.

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