Let’s Get Technical: Preparing Your Book’s Print File (Part 6)

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Maureen Shelley turns technical in Part 6 of Blog series “10 Simple Steps to becoming a successful published author”, on preparing your book’s print file.

The least pleasant part of writing a book is preparing the file for the printer or digital publication. I recommend you save yourself a whole lot of pain and angst and send the file to a professional typesetter to do the job for you.

If you have budgeted for nothing else, budget for a typesetter. Google typesetters in your area and send off your file and get back a nice PDF that has everything done for you. Most authors don’t try to design their covers, yet many believe that they can do the work of a typesetter.

What you need to provide if you’re going to attempt it yourself:

  • You will need to provide two files to your printer – one PDF for the cover and one PDF for the manuscript itself.
  • If you don’t understand any of the points below, please consult Google as there are a myriad of resources available to the self-publishing author and most are available for free.

The Cover file for the printer:

  • Send the checklist of the printer’s requirements to the graphic artist who designed your cover.
  • They will follow the instructions and send you back your cover with embedded fonts or with the fonts outlined.
  • They will also supply the PDF in the correct format for printing, particularly if you have a full-colour cover. The details below are for the body copy file only.

The body copy file for the printer must have:

  • Embedded fonts – all fonts are to be embedded, this is why I recommend Times New Roman and the use of one font only
  • Mirror margins
  • If the book is more than 150 pages, the right margin wider than the left (gutters)
  • Manuscript margins (these are wider than standard)
  • The correct leading and spacing that is consistent throughout
  • The number of pages in the manuscript is exactly divisible by 16
  • If the pages aren’t divisible by 16 you have added blank pages at the end
  • If you have blank pages, there are fewer than 10 blank pages
  • If there are more than 10 blank pages, you have typed ‘notes’ at the top of each
  • The last page blank,
  • The introduction and the first chapter start on right-hand pages
  • The dimensions of the ‘pages’ are equal to a standard paperback form such as Trade B, B+ or C
  • All options of the ‘printing’ of the file to PDF are changed so the page size remains the same at Trade B or C or what size you have chosen
  • Section breaks, so you can change the page numbers before the Introduction to Roman numerals
  • Page numbers after the introduction or Chapter 1 starting with Arabic numbers
  • The file is ‘printed’ to PDF not ‘saved as’ a PDF from Word
  • Each page set so when the file is ‘printed’ to PDF the words don’t move to the next page – resulting in changes in format and more pages than originally desired
  • Standard headings used by your word processing program
  • A table of contents created by your word processing program
  • No extra spaces or paragraph marks – not one! Extra spaces and par marks can create havoc when files are converted to PDF and fonts are embedded
  • Word processing commands for paragraphs (Ctrl (or Ctrl) in Word on a PC) – not the ‘enter’ key hit twice
  • Uniform paragraph spacing – not the ‘enter’ key hit twice creating greater leading after 14pt letters as compared to 11pt letters
  • Consistent spelling – chose Australian English as the review language and apply it to the whole document; unless your market is the US and then apply US spelling to the whole document
  • Numbered chapter headings
  • Spell checked – one last time
  • A frontispiece – this sets out the requirements under

The Copyright Act (1968), provides details of the author, printer, publisher (if any), the ISBN, whether the book has been catalogued at the National Library of Australia, a statement that the author is asserting their moral rights, a copyright symbol next to the author’s name and details of the edition (1st, 2nd, Australian etc). Look at recent books in your genre to see how these are laid out.

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About

Maureen Shelley is CEO and owner of TCC. She is an experienced digital and content strategist and was a nationally-syndicated journalist. Our all-round guru. Maureen manages corporate, digital and government projects for TCC. She loves helping clients and, with three masters degrees, knows lots.

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