Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing 101: Putting Your Book in Print

Electronic books could become the norm in a few short years. More and more people own ereaders, and the traditional publishing industry is paying serious attention. But the world is full of purists, too, and really nothing can compare to the solid weight of a book in hand and the joy of flipping another page. Cast a wider net, and reach more readers, by putting your book in print.

Turning an eBook into a Print Book

Even in self-publishing, it's possible to create a print version of your book with a full-color cover, interesting blurb and an actual bar code. The best part: you can do it without spending money.

By virtue of print-on-demand technology, self-published authors may create a design and layout for their books that can be stored for use only when needed. Until someone orders the book, it won't be printed -- and that means you don't have to pay any upfront costs. The price of the book itself will be deducted from the price you charge for it (so do the math well!), making it possible for you to make a profit on each book instead of paying out of pocket (unless, of course, you're the one buying the book).

All you need is a self-publishing print-on-demand program. I personally like CreateSpace, Amazon's program, because it's very quick an easy to use. The program even has a calculator, so you know exactly how much it costs to print one of your books. The text of your book must be in .doc or .pdf format so it may be put into the system correctly.

But it's not simple. A standard word processing document is formatted for traditional paper size, which is 8.5 inches by 11 inches in the United States. If your book is printed on pages this size, it's going to be far too big to fit on any shelf. You'll need to pick a trim size for your book, which is generally no more than 9 inches tall and 6 inches wide. When you try to fit a standard-sized document into this trim size, however, you're going to have errors throughout the book; the words will bleed right off the edge of the pages. The easiest way to prepare your book for print is to format the document file itself. Use the document settings to change the size of the page (it's easy enough to do if you use the ruler along the top) and manually set the margins. Proof your book, and tweak the margins, as many times as it takes to get the look exactly right.

Once you're satisfied with what you're seeing on your screen, cough up a few bucks to get a proof copy of your book sent. Look for any mistakes, and correct them, before you publish your print version of the book. You may not notice a huge increase in sales -- or any at all -- but at least you'll be offering another option to your readers, and making your book more widely available to the reading audience.

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  1. Now visitor and follower stopping in to say hello! I use CreateSpace for my books, although I had to have help with the formatting as that can be a frustrating part of the process.

  2. Glad to have you, Stephen! Formatting for CreateSpace can be very tricky, but I found it helps to download their modified file and go from there.