The First Step

The first thing you need to do is … finish your book. Proof read it. Go looking for things you want to change. By the time you come to me, the manuscript should be set in stone… not that it ever is, but you should be confident that this is the work you want to show the public.

The next thing is to decide what size your book should be. Not how long – your written manuscript should be as long as it takes to tell the story you want, and no longer. But the next step is to decide the trim size of the book you want to sell.

Here are your options with me: Both Lulu and CreateSpace are really good companies to work with and (here’s the key) provide you with an ISBN for your book – that’s a $125 savings, which I personally couldn’t pass up, so I’m asssuming that you won’t either. If you want to go with another printer, that’s fine, and what I do will probably work for them too, but I can’t guarantee it – drop me a line and we can work on it.

Anyway, the main trim sizes that you’ll consider for a work of fiction are:

  • 4.25 x 6.88 inches (Lulu) – Mass Market Paperback
  • 5.25 x 8.00 inches (CreateSpace) – US Trade Paperback
  • 6.00 x 9.00 inches (Lulu / CreateSpace) – US Trade Paperback
  • 6 x 9 inches (Lulu) – Hardcover

I have set up templates for all of these sizes, and investigated what text sizes work best for each page size. This is what I recommend:

6×9 works – it’s the most popular size of Trade paperback . It gives a nice size for a book in the hand, and … if you really are yearning to see your book as a hardback (and I can really empathize with that), you don’t have to get another design for another size. The one layout can serve for both!

If you really want a mass market paperback (called a pocketbook), I can oblige, but be aware that the text sizes are generally smaller than for a Trade Paperback, which can mean eyestrain for your readers. They may not know why they don’t enjoy reading your book, but they won’t return to it or recommend it to their friends. And if you want to produce your manuscript for a hard cover (and I can really feel the lure for that one!), we can do that, too. Again, just be aware of the expanded cover design requirements if you’re looking at a hardcover dust jacket.

I’ve prepared sample chapters of several public-domain books for each size so you can get an idea of what each page looks like: be sure to print them out for comparison. The PDF software will scale the pages to your screen, which makes comparing them impossible without printing them out.