Selecting a Printing Company and Obtaining Formatting Specs

Last updated: April 19, 2019

Information in this guide is provided as is. Data about royalties and fees charged by printing companies was believed to be correct at the time of writing but could be incorrect or out of date. Verify all information with printing companies before proceeding.

Objectives: This guide will help you…
  • Understand how eBooks and print books differ
  • Choose a printing company
  • Obtain the printing company’s internal formatting specs (the blueprint for the inside of your book)
  • Obtain cover dimensions we will use to design your print cover

eBooks vs. Print Books

  • An eBook is digital, doesn’t have a back cover, and doesn’t have a fixed page count (because the number of pages depends on the screen size of the eReader device). The most popular eBook formats are .mobi (for Kindle) and .ePub (for pretty much everything that’s not a Kindle).
  • A print book does have a back cover and does have a fixed page count. It’s what you see on the shelves of bookstores. It’s a little trickier to design because ProofreadingServices.com needs to do the following: (1) format the inside of the book, (2) use that page count to determine the width of the book’s spine (more pages = a thicker spine), (3) use that spine width to get a cover template from your printing company, and (4) use that cover template to design your print cover. This four-step process can be confusing for new authors. That’s why we wrote this guide. Note: The information in this guide applies only to print books, not eBooks.

Choosing Your Printing Company

Why do you need a printing company before formatting can begin?

Printing companies use different measurements. Much like a construction worker reading a blueprint, ProofreadingServices.com will need to use your printing company’s dimensions to format the inside and outside of your book.

What are the most commonly chosen printing companies?

Authors generally choose to print paperbacks via either IngramSpark or Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), run by Amazon. We don’t have any formal affiliation with either printing company.

Which printing company should you choose?

To help you choose a printer, we have broken down the major differences between the two (as of the date listed at the top of this text). However, further research can help you make this important decision.

IngramSpark
KDP
Print Book Distribution IngramSpark offers wider distribution to brick and mortar bookstores, most of which will not order book stock from Amazon. If you choose to sell print books mainly online through Amazon, KDP offers high royalties for Amazon exclusivity.
Cost IngramSpark has a small initial setup fee as well as annual fees for added services. KDP tends to be less expensive for authors because it has no setup or annual fee.
Caution: Royalties vary worldwide, so please research this with your location in mind.
Printing Options IngramSpark offers the option to print hardcovers and paperbacks, and it offers more binding options. KDP offers only paperback printing.
eBooks and Print Books Under the Same Roof IngramSpark offers eBook distribution services, allowing you to manage print and eBook sales for your title on one platform. However, IngramSpark offers only 40% royalties for eBooks distributed through this platform. KDP offers eBook distribution for Amazon only, with royalties of 70% for most titles. The eBook market is largely dominated by Amazon. To distribute your eBook to other online retailers, you will have to approach them directly or use a third-party aggregator such as Smashwords.

Still uncertain? The decision can come down to whether you wish to sell print copies mainly online or offline in bookstores. Most new authors sell online only.

Selling in bookstores? → We suggest IngramSpark to access their large worldwide distribution network of physical bookstores. Note: They don’t promote all books to bookstores, so check with them about their current policies.

Selling only online? → We suggest KDP for its high royalties and its ability to offer readers the choice between print and eBook versions of your book in one convenient location.

Just want the easiest solution? → Go with KDP. It has fewer “moving parts” and less to think about.

Made your final decision? Great! You’re ready to have us get your printing company’s formatting guidelines.

If you choose to print with a different printing company, contact us so we can discuss how we can go about formatting the inside and outside of your print book.


You’ve Chosen IngramSpark. Now What?

1. You select a book size.

Your book’s internal specifications and cover template will depend on which book size (trim size) you select. If you are unsure and simply prefer the most common paperback book size, please request that we format your book using a book size of 6 × 9 inches (229 × 152 mm). If you want a different size, view IngramSpark’s trim size matrix (p. 33). Protip: Pick your favorite paperback off your shelf. What size is it?

2. We obtain the internal specs from IngramSpark.

This is the blueprint for the inside of the book.

We work with IngramSpark often enough that we only need your book size (trim size). Then we’ll format the inside of the book according to IngramSpark’s specs, which we have on file.

3. We obtain the cover template from IngramSpark.

This is the blueprint for the outside of the book.

One step at a time: As the page count will determine the width of your book’s spine, we cannot obtain a cover template until we have completed internal formatting.

Your book cover template dimensions depend on three factors:

  1. Page count (the more pages, the thicker the spine)
  2. Book (trim) size
  3. Paper and binding options

Regarding book size and paper and binding options, please review IngramSpark’s cover template generator to choose your paper, binding, and laminate preferences from the options listed. There’s no need to submit the form, as we will do so for you. Please simply email us the following:

  1. Your ISBN
  2. Your interior color and paper choice
  3. Your binding type choice
  4. Your laminate type choice

You’ve Chosen KDP. Now What?

1. You select a book size

Your book’s internal specifications and cover template will depend on which book size (trim size) you select. If you are unsure and simply prefer the most common paperback book size, please request that we format your book using a trim size of 6 × 9 inches (229 × 152 mm). If you want a different size, KDP offers several paperback size options. Protip: Pick your favorite paperback off your shelf. What size is it?

2. We obtain the internal specs from KDP.

This is the blueprint for the inside of the book.

We work with KDP often enough that we only need your book size (trim size). Then we’ll format the inside of the book according to KDP’s specs, which we have on file.

3. We obtain the cover template from KDP.

This is the blueprint for the outside of the book.

One step at a time: As the page count will determine the width of your book’s spine, we cannot obtain a cover template until we have completed internal formatting.

Your book cover template dimensions depend on three factors:

  1. Page count (the more pages, the thicker the spine)
  2. Book (trim) size
  3. Paper and binding options

Regarding book size and paper and binding options, please let us know whether you wish to print your book using white paper, cream paper, or color paper. These are the only options KDP offers regarding paper and binding. We will then use this information along with your trim size and page count to generate a cover template.