When you want to get a physical copy of your book printed there are a number of terms to get your head round: CMYK, spine width, bleed, gutter size, embedded fonts, print ready PDF…
Printers ask for files in certain formats to ensure that what they end up printing is exactly what you wanted.
I’ve avoided this last one for book interiors until today, but decided to do a little digging and find out more.
In case you’re wondering…
CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black – the colours traditionally used by printers to produce full colour images. Most screen images will be RGB (Red, Green, Blue) and if you send an RGB image to a printer, you might not get a physical image that looks like you expected. Fortunately most image editing software allows you to set the image as either RGB or CMYK and you should always use CMYK for images that are going to be printed.
Spine width won’t require you to visit your doctor – this is the width of your book and you need to know this if producing your own book cover as it will change if you add or remove pages. If you want the book title to be centred on the spine, you need to calculate the spine width when working out the size of your cover image.
Bleed – starting to sound like a murder/mystery right here! Bleed is also related to cover images. Once your book is printed and bound, it will be trimmed to a nice and neat edge. Your image should extend past the Bleed area of the cover (between 3 and 5 mm from each edge – including the spine!) so that if the trim is less than expected, there is no unexpected white space at the edge.
Gutter size. Nope, nothing to do with the amount of water your drains can take advantge of, gutter size is an extra buffer on the spine edge of each page that ensures that the reader can see the whole page easily. Some printers don’t require this, but others do. It is important to check as otherwise your text may look offset on the page.
Embedded Fonts and print ready PDF. I’ve not previously had to worry about this as I used Amazon Createspace to produce Print On Demand (POD) physical copies of The Great Scottish Land Grab, and was able to send them a word document for the book’s interior. (The cover image was designed for me) For my first run of Fallen Warriors I used Book Printing UK who also accepted word documents for the interior.
Ordering my first batch of 100 copies of The Great Scottish Land Grab from Book Printing UK, I hesitated when I saw they initially ask for print ready PDF files.
I use Microsoft Word 10 on a Windows 10 OS and while I frequently use Word to export documents as PDF, I wasn’t sure whether it could produce a “print ready” PDF.
As I wrote above, I decided to do some digging and quickly found this helpful guide: http://www.bookprinting.co.uk/helpinghand.html. At the bottom of the page there is a helpful section: How to create print ready PDF files in Microsoft Word.
Turns out it is fairly simple, ensuring that Options are set to save as ISO 190051 compliant (PDF/A)
And the best thing about it, Book Printing UK gave me a small discount when I ordered my next batch of books as they didn’t have to spend time converting the interior to PDF!
Self-publishing your own books does take time and has a learning curve, but if you’re willing to learn and have the time, it is very rewarding.