Going to Print - What did you decide to choose as far as sizing, fonts?

I'm just curious for those of you who have gone to print with your serial, what are the actual dimensions of your book and why did you pick that? For example, is there an accepted size you think most people like books to be at? Are you trying to match other volumes?

Did you go paperback or hardcover?

Did you have illustrations?

What was your total page count in the end and font size/spacing etc.?

Who did you end up using to print? Local printer? Or a POD like Createspace, Lightning Source, or Lulu?

(FYI - I have self-published books from Createspace and Lulu on hand from other authors. I think I'm going with Createspace. Just looks much better on both interior and exterior. )

Pictures are welcome! I have a few samples on hand to look at (from other self-publishers I know) but would love shots of your interiors and covers!

I just did this! Pay Me, Bug! was released as a trade paperback this week.

There are basically three choices: Lulu, CreateSpace and Lightning Source. Both Lulu and CreateSpace essentially use LightningSource for the actual printing (I think) so ultimately LS works out to be cheapest (I think) but it's a lot harder to put a book together using them. Also, with LS you have to accept returns, which is the industry standard for selling books but kind of a pain.

Lulu: Let's you do hard back books. Significantly more expensive than CreateSpace when you try to sell them. Book quality may be a little better than CS (though I haven't really noticed).

CreateSpace: Much cheaper than Lulu (though still hard to compete with mass-produced books because POD vs volume, volume, volume).

I'll give you specific specs in a little bit. My daughter is pestering me to watch Curious George with her.

I went for the smallest size I could get through Create Space - Which is a weird size close to 5x8. (Don't remember off hand.)

But the first book is short, and I realized, after I did it, that all the sizes in create space are pretty much the same cost per page. So I'm still debating going with a larger format for the series which is longer.

I used Garamond Premiere Pro at 12 point with pretty close to default leading. (14.4 or something like that.) Page headers and numbers were in my series cover font (Copperplate), and the chapter headings were Garamond Pro, about 14 pt.


I'm using LibreOffice, so the spacing decisions and settings are a little different from MS Word, so I'm not sure that my margin and spacing information will be generally useful. I used Garamand 10.5 text, with 115% spacing between lines and an extra 0.02" of space above and below paragraphs, along with a .24" initial first line indent. Overall the effect is a pretty comfortable read, but it padded out the page count a bit (352 pages vs. 310 pages or thereabouts without the extra spacing). I was using a trade paperback size and I felt the extra space was needed.

Chapter titles were Garamond 14 point bold, and the sub-titles (the "WHEREIN the" parts) were Garamond 10 point bold.

Interior margin was set at .85", exterior .5", top and bottom .75".

Let's see. I've done... nine print editions, five of which were serials or serialized novels. Most of them are 6x9, but Rosary was smaller--I really like the smaller form factor, but it has to be the right book for it. Spots was the largest at 7x10, but it was just an enormous story and I couldn't get it to a reasonable size without going big on the trim size. And even then it was 514 pages!

I did go to the bookstore and measure the average size of paperbacks and trade paperbacks, though, to get a notion of what size I wanted the books to be.

Because I went with Createspace, I can't distribute hardcovers (little known fact: Createspace will do hardcover versions for a $100 set-up fee, but won't ship them to anyone but you.) But Createspace's commitment to excellence can't be beat. Yeah, I know that sounds hyperbolic, but I've always been impressed by their customer service, quality and the way they keep innovating to make it easier to use their site. I've been part of two of their beta tests so far for new features. (And hey, they also give away prizes for NaNoWriMo winners... how cool is that?)

Some of my books have full-color illustrations (expensive). A few have black and white ones. Some have none!

The books I've put out average between 100 and 500 pages, depending on what they are. I seem to choose a different font, font size and margin every time I do a book, but my designer by now starts out the rough design with larger than average margins because I seem to like a lot of whitespace.

I don't have a lot of photos of interiors, but some of the prettiest ones are up, at least, on my pinterest for My Books: http://pinterest.com/mcahogarth/my-books/

Create Space does hardback? Cool! The only reason I'd do them (right now) is as a special edition anyway.

I got interrupted while I was posting, so I kinda cut it short. Here's more info:

I use InDesign for my interiors. I like Garamond Premier Pro because it's an elegant body text font, and because I do like to use small caps for the first three words of any section: and you need a "pro" font for them to look good. Otherwise the weight is too light and they look weird.

I did put some art in the layout, but only a black and white tiff of the series logo on the title page. When I go to paper with the serials, I will probably include the header art I'm doing for the web episodes. (However, I will have to redo them all, because I will need much higher resolution.)


Thanks guys! I think I told MCA this already on twitter once,but I love her designer's typography choices. Mmmm.

Interesting that all of you guys went with a Garamond based font. I personally like it as well and it's "standard" enough that a lot of PODs seem to use it. I don't know yet if I'm going to look at custom fonts.

Did you also take final price into consideration when planning your book size? More pages = higher price point, so I didn't know if that factored in. Kind of wanting to make sure I have an accessible paperback price for the convention circuit (or friends who go so I can beg them to take it)... but that means larger book sizes so I can cram more text in -_- .

It is definitely a consideration. I know it was a big hurdle for one of MCA's books (Spots, I think?)

Right now I'm working on trades for Curveball. This is pretty challenging because I want them to be roughly competitive with comic book prices. A comic book is anywhere from $2.50 to $3.75 an issue these days. It looks like one 38 page trade would be $4.50 (if I were going to make any profit on it at all). HOWEVER, it looks like doubling the page size might not increase the cost appreciably, so if I released a double-issue trade bimonthly the price would be competitive with single issue comic books.

I *think*. I'm still experimenting.

That's one of the reasons I haven't done my other mystery series yet. It's more than half again as long, and I'm thinking it would be a better bargain for my readers if I made it a 6x9.

Once I decide for the series, though, I feel I should stick with it.

BTW, Dean Wesley Smith is releasing his short stories as thin paperbacks, and I'm beginning to think that could be fun to do with The Misplaced Hero, and the whole Perils of Lady Pauline series. (Test of Freedom, I'll probably wait until the three novella arc is complete and release it as a single book.)


My designer is a man of great talent. :) You can see some samples of his work here: http://www.catspawdtp.com/books.html

Anyway, yes, price is a consideration. With Createspace, though, the numbers don't change much until you get over 500 pages, so as long as it's under that I'm fine. I'm not above messing with the whitespace/font size/trim size to keep it under 500 pages, but I won't sacrifice readability to it. I don't want to produce ugly books. I'd rather put things out in two volumes (like I had to do with the Godkin serial) than shove it all into one again the way I did in Spots. I had to price that thing painfully high, and I regret it in retrospect. But there were issues involved in the meta-data: I had already released the e-book as a single volume. Releasing the physical book as two volumes introduced problems in terms of readers finding the paperback version ("Wait, this book I read as a single e-book has to be bought as two paperbacks? Why? Where are they? Why are they named different things from one another?" etc).

Whatever the case, the publishing industry has already set a $12-18 standard for trade paperbacks, so keeping it in that range is within reader expectations. If it's less, it should probably be approaching mass market paperback size, but even those these days can run between $8-9, so don't be afraid to price appropriately.

One of the things that I wanted to ask you guys about was whether you ever felt pressured to price towards mass market and lower prices? My convention experience argues strongly for the 10 dollar price point with impulse buys. While I have gotten away with 12-15 dollar items, it causes a great deal more thinking on part of the person on the other side of the table.

Also, are hardbacks in any of your thoughts for the future? If my plan was paperback + collector's hardback (full of a lot of random drawings and references/notes/ and a bonus story or two), it seems the paperback should be designed for the casual/new reader.

If I have one shot at this due to lack of patience/time (as I prefer to be back writing in 4-6 months), I'd likely just do a trade and strike a happy medium in terms of bonus content and other nice things.

Yes, I'm overthinking it... I know. :)

Yes, I feel that pressure, but it's partly because I have never liked Trade Paper. It's a mongrel format -- neither convenient and cheep like Mass Paper, nor sturdy and collectable like hardback. I've always felt it's just an excuse to charge more money. (Of course nowdays it isn't -- it's the result of POD. But that's not how it started.)

But in reality, people expect to pay more for trade paper. If they're price sensitive, they can go to ebook.


I don't notice the pressure, no. I think a lot of readers expect high-quality paperbacks to be more expensive because existing publishing companies have traditionally priced the trades at $13-18 already. When mass market-sized books (which are often hideously designed) are already $9, $15 for something beautiful isn't a hard sell.

I do discount at conventions though. Never below my cost, but I'm willing to deal.

At this point I'm not interested in hardcover editions. The margins on those are unfavorable.

MCA - have you ever polled your readers about those hardcovers? Or do you think that they are satisfied with well-designed trades+ extras?

Camille - I think that trade paperbacks have improved sales margins for a small upgrade in quality (i.e., paper and finishes on the cover). But I don't know that ebook is always an alternative for readers. I do believe book lovers often do have an e-reader, but not sure about the general casual reader and also not sure of the breakdown by genre. (This is a random tangent but I heard that e-reader uptake is highest among romance readers, and then have no idea what happens with the sci-fi, fantasy, suspense genres from there.)

It might be the niche some folks write in is perfectly fine with ebook + some kind of paperback. But I do kind of wonder if that holds true across all genres.

(and why I'm not writing romance, I have no idea. Feels like that is the genre that should be most popular in serial fic and yet some startups are virtually ignoring it while others are wholly focusing on it.)

I have asked, and most of them seem to be able to take or leave hardcovers, expect in specialty books like fancy-art-books.

I do think that you're -generally- right in that people are still more likely to buy paper books than e-book. But I'm not sure if that ratio holds true of people who shop -indie- authors. My instinct is the people who are more willing to try indie writers are invested in the e-book arena. And I think that the e-book price point makes them more apt to take the risk on an independent author.

(Part of that might also be that indie writers don't have good penetration into physical bookstores still, so the people who only buy paperback aren't running into them.)

SgL: We are definitely in the era of unlimited niches. And for each of us, our audience will cross over several different demographics/niches on this issue.

I'm just saying that, yeah, the price of trade paper sucks, but you don't have access to mass market. So your audience for those books is going to be people who can afford to pay for them, because those who can't won't buy them, even if they would like to.

One thing to keep in mind, those who don't like the price of new books will do as they always do: they'll trade and buy used. (Or buy new to trade in for cheaper used.)

Obviously for most indies, this is not a mature market. But keep producing those paper books and the after market should grow. After all, we're no longer in the days where, if there are only five used copies of your book in the world, nobody can find them: those five copies can be available to everyone via Amazon or other online used book sources.

True - I guess the backlash of Amazon's behavior as of late has to make it seemingly hard to get some books into the stores. And indie books don't do well universally in stores. I've heard mixed stories in my area about willingness to take books.

So in that sense, ebook seems like the first priority and then a consumer (wallet) friendly print copy.

That said, I still think the print concept has legs for the artist alley setting. I'll just make sure to follow my own price rules in what I throw together whenever that may be.

On a random note, I went to the bookstore and looked at the books FAntasy/SCi-Fi section. And wow, lots of interesting variation in paper book formats. There are a lot of mass paperback type editions with very boring fonts. But the hardcovers are gone for the most part, with the exception of "Memory of Light" and there are occasionally copies of larger softcovers for well-known authors with better than average typography.

And there's been a rapid drop of painted covers. I'm seeing a lot more photomanipulations, much to my surprise.

That said, I got kind of annoyed by the samples and wandered over to look at the "female oriented" fantasy/paranormal books and yes -- see more photomanips again in the Twilight vein and a lot of simple, graphic work.

Sadly I like more graphic design type work and that seems to go against the genre that best fits what I'm doing. I really want to do a NIght Circus type look (because I love cutouts and simple color layouts) or rebel and go hardcore typography (i.e., NOrrell and Strange) but a few people have tried to talk me off that ledge. Then again, I don't feel like painting like the Hildebrandts here... so I may just go hire out a friend to make mycover xD

Matching your genre to your artistic style is a problem. But I do think that the guerilla nature of indie publishing and online publishing will shake up the old concepts of covers and genres.

For me it's a major problem that I write light or "cozy" mysteries, but neither my books nor my covers fit what is currently in vogue. My one series would probably do better if I could do a modern style "cozy" cover, but it would be costly. The issue is that cozy mysteries always have a quaint painting of a domestic setting, with a murder element in it. I don't do that kind of art, and it really is something you'd have to commission.

My solution to the problem was to look back at the kind of mysteries that I admire, and which I use more for inspiration for my work, and go with a retro style. I came up with a design that evoked Saul Bass and also the logo for The Saint (who the title character is compared to here and there, though he has his doubts). I ended up winning an award for the cover, but until I get more books out in that series, I don't see it helping me much.

(If you want to look at it: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006RPUHMI/ )

I think creating my own brand -- using my own artistic style -- slows me down, but I think it will pay off in the end. When I think about well established authors, often their series are treated differently than the run of the mill books (at least in mystery). Look at the cover of an Agatha Christie, and you'll find it doesn't fit the model for most modern cozies. (But then, her work doesn't either.)

I think it's going to be tougher in your area, in sf/fantasy, because the fashion is moving from an expensive style (painting) to a quicker more graphic style. So painting is going to look "old-fashioned" for a while. In ten years, though, it will look retro and classy. However, I expect that just using a different kind of painting, a different look, than sf and fantasy has used recently (maybe more fine arty?) that would stand out and not be against you.


I have seen your covers highlighted on The BOok Designer's blog :). I actually am a big Bass fan too. I love retros 20s-50s printwork . It also is nice that the approach translates well as a thumbnail.

The bad thing about books on a shelf is that what works there doesn't necessarily work as a thumb. I actually thought some of those would make terrible thumbs unless the whole selling point is the author (which it may be in a bookstore).

My gut still says that the approach might work better from a more storybook look.

Although I like this one because it combines both storybook and graphic design really well.

This book I think is absolutely gorgeous, although I suspect would scare off male readers http://www.amazon.com/Hans-Christian-Andersen-Loved-Classics/dp/1435143892

I could be wrong though on that!

Literary fiction has been using that sort of cover for a long long time. And it really would suit a lot of SF and Fantasy.

You know, one thing I'm wondering is if there will be a move toward different covers for ebook and paper. There has long been different covers for hard back and mass market, after all.

One thing I've considered but haven't done: creating a similar cover for both, but optimizing one for ebook and the other for paper. This made more sense back in the days when nobody cared about having high-def images on an ebook. (I liked using 600 x 900 images, myself, which I think is the largest which really translates down very well.) Now that everybody requires HIGH resolutions for ebooks, the imagery will have to still look reasonably good in a larger format.

However, it still might make sense to do more fine print text, etc., on the print version. Also, slightly different color choices, because RGB handles colors very differently from CYMK.