PPG Graphic Design Style Guide

The PPG Graphic Design Style Guide was created to ensure all our graphic designers follow the same professional standards for all our books. Each vendor we hire must follow these guidelines.

1. The bar code is always placed on bottom right-hand corner of the back cover and PPG logos should appear as shown in this image:

PPG Graphic Design Style Guide

2. The gutter and margins should be set as shown here to ensure proper spacing in final printed book:

Gutter and margins for PPG books

3. When doing initial design samples for clients, send only two samples each of both the entire cover and one interior chapter. (The entire cover includes the back cover, spine, and front cover as shown above. The sample chapter should include the title page and a couple extra sample pages to show the client how the margins, headers, footers, fonts, and spacing might appear.)

4. Here is a link to the cover generator (barcode generator) that Ingram Content Group (Lightning Source) uses for its books: https://myaccount.lightningsource.com/Portal/Tools/CoverTemplateGenerator. Please use this tool to generate all book cover templates for PPG paperbacks and hardcover books. It will provide the most accurate spine measurement as it factors in LSI’s chosen paper weights here.

Page counts have to be guesstimated in the beginning since we won’t know the final page count until the final version of the book has been completed, so here is a guideline to use when generating a cover template. Typically, there are 300 words on a page (in the average non-fiction/fiction book). So, if a raw manuscript is 50,000 words long, assume that the book will be 167 pages, plus another 13 pages to account for front matter and back matter, for a total of 180 pages. Always round page counts up to the nearest even number. Build the first draft of the cover for this number of pages. Change it as needed as the book changes.

5. Never include a price on a PPG book cover. Only include the barcode excluding the price.

6. Only make the author’s/editor’s/proofreader’s exact changes to a manuscript. Never make judgment calls regarding punctuation or spelling or anything other than graphic design. Punctuation and spelling are the editor’s and proofreader’s jobs. Graphic design is the graphic designer’s job.

7. Eliminate all visible widows, orphans, and bad breaks from both the back-cover and internal copy of the book. (You may not find them all, and that’s okay. Just do your best. The proofreader will find the rest.)

A book’s interior is usually either justified or flush left as shown in the diagram below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typographic_alignment

If you choose justified alignment for your interior, then you have to be especially concerned with bad breaks in words. For example:

http://nitens.org/img/latex/hyphenation.jpg

The words “curious” and “remember” are badly broken up in the above sample. To avoid this, you can kern that particular block of text either slightly looser or slightly tighter to ensure the full words land on one line rather than breaking up into two lines. Believe me when I say that extra little detail can subliminally affect the quality of your book in other people’s eyes. It takes no time at all to fix it, so I highly recommend that you do.

Widows and orphans are a concern whether your text is justified or flush left as shown in the below image:

http://www.edgee.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/widow-orphan.png

As shown above, a widow is a lone word stuck on a line by itself anywhere in a page; whereas, an orphan is a lone one or two words that have landed by themselves on a line, up on the next page. Both of these things affect the flow and professional appearance of a book whether you realize it or not. Professional publishers always ensure these types of issues are eliminated by meticulously kerning certain blocks of text throughout the book (as opposed to adding in extra line breaks or paragraph breaks in random places to try to correct the issue).

Related reading: PPG Work-Made-for-Hire Vendor Agreement

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

The PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide was created as a starting point for our editors. It is used for all PPG authors who haven’t requested another specific editorial style guide for their books.

PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

Obviously, English is far from being a simple, straightforward language. There are many different editorial style guides associated with the English language, depending on which country an editor is representing: United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We all have different ways of spelling and punctuating the English language, so we each use different editorial style guides when editing books.

This is why PPG creates a customized editorial style sheet for all our authors—to ensure consistency in editing for each and every one of their books. The styles are driven, first and foremost, by the author’s preference (if any) as to which primary guide he or she wishes to use (e.g., The Oxford Style Manual for British authors, The Chicago Manual of Style for American authors, a special blend of the two for Canadian authors, et cetera). From there, the customized editorial style sheet is created by a book project’s primary editor, and everyone else follows that editor’s lead for every single book published by that author going forward.

PPG Canadian Editorial Style Guide

Spelling and Spelling References

A-B-C-D-E

Use behaviour and behavioural, not behavior and behavioral

Use clamour, not clamor; but write clamorous, not clamourous

Use colour (and colourful); not color or colorful

 

Er and ‘er: Use the word “er” to denote a speech filler, but use ‘er to denote an informal contraction of “her”: e.g., Oh, er, bring the truck ‘round to the gas pump and fill ‘er up.

 

 

F-G-H-I-J

Use favour (and favourite), not favor or favorite

Use flavour (and flavouring) not flavor or flavoring

Use humour, not humor; but  write humorous, not humourous

K-L-M-N-O

Use labour, not labor; but write laborious, not labourious

Use metre, not meter

 

 

 

P-Q-R-S-T

Use savour, not savor

Use TV, not T.V. (plural is TVs)

 

U-V-W-X-Y-Z

 

English Spelling/Translations

Generally, Canadian spelling uses “our” for words such as labour, humour, etc, but there are a few exceptions: sailor, tailor. Also, some “our” words drop the “u” when a suffix such as “ious” is added: e.g., laborious, not labourious

 

Words such as “center” and “meter” use “re” in Canadian spelling: e.g., centre, metre

Grammar and Punctuation

Style Guide(s) Used

Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) 16th Edition

 

Oxford Guide to Writing English: The Canadian Handbook

 

“Numbers in Fiction” The Editor’s Blog (Beth Hill, January 25, 2013)

http://theeditorsblog.net/2013/01/13/numbers-in-fiction/

 

Abbreviations and Acronyms

As per The Editor’s Blog, avoid using abbreviations for units of measure and rates of speed (especially for dialogue within the story), if possible. See blog post for examples.

 

For acronyms, spell out the words (or meaning of the acronym) in full the first time an acronym is used.

Capitalization

Capitalize names and do not place quotation marks around the names of other animals: e.g., write Lucky, not “Lucky”.

 

Capitalize brand names and manufacturers.

Dates and Time

As per The Editor’s Blog, avoid using ordinal numbers (e.g., 1st, 30th) for dates that include the month or month and year.

 

Ex. Write first of June, not June 1st or 1st of June. (Also avoid using superscripts with ordinal numbers in dates; e.g., write 25th, not 25th.)

Dictionary Used

Oxford Canadian Dictionary of Current English

 

Design (Info re layout, font, margins, trim size, etc.) Italics (as per CMOS)

Use italics to denote unfamiliar foreign words or phrases (or foreign sounding words and phrases; e.g., Genus Humanitas or Genius Humanitas); rather than italics and quotation marks.

 

Italics (or boldface type) can also be used (sparingly) to show emphasis.

Numbers

As per the PPG Style Guide, spell out numbers from zero to nine, and write the numerals for anything greater than nine (e.g., 10 not ten).

 

Exceptions:  Write the numbers as words when writing dialogue. (Source: “Numbers in Fiction”, The Editor’s Blog)

Punctuation

 

Quotation Marks

Quotation marks may be used to signal that a word is being used in an unusual way or to denote sarcasm or irony. (Note: The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) discourages frequent use of quotation marks for this purpose. Where quotations are used to introduce an unusual phrase or jargon, CMOS recommends dropping the quotation marks for subsequent uses of the same word or phrase.)

 

Use quotation marks around a word or term when you are referring to it as a word.

Symbols

As per The Editor’s Blog, write out the words for symbols: e.g., use dollar, not $, percent, not %; degrees not °, etc., especially for dialogue.

URLs (as per PPG Style Guide)

Write urls in lowercase letters

Related reading: PPG Work-Made-for-Hire Vendor Agreement

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Why Do All Authors Need Editors and Proofreaders?

Why do all authors need editors and proofreaders? Because each of these professionals plays a different (and essential) role in polishing your book for publication.

Why do all authors need editors and proofreaders?

Traditional Forms of Editing

Traditional literary publishers put each and every manuscript through a thorough and professional process of substantive/stylistic editing, copy editing, and then proofreading to ensure a polished and saleable result. There are several pairs of eyes on every raw manuscript and galley proof all the way through the process to ensure that 99 percent of every last error is caught and corrected before it goes to print.

Below is a brief description of what each of those editing processes looks like. Independent authors should have your manuscripts copy edited in the very least.

Copy Editing

A copy editor will thoroughly review your manuscript in Microsoft Word format and correct any issues with spelling, grammar, and punctuation throughout. He or she will also make helpful suggestions regarding word choice and sentence structure, using the “Western-based” English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Stylistic Editing

Sometimes, you want a little more than a copy edit. A stylistic edit will cover all the points of a copy edit, plus it will eliminate jargon and redundancies, clarify meaning, and ensure that the writing matches the intended audience. Stylistic edits are negotiated with you all along the way using the English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Substantive/Structural Editing

Do you want the help of a professional editor to improve the overall structure of your manuscript? A substantive edit will cover all the points of a stylistic edit, plus it will clarify and reorganize your story for you. These changes are negotiated with you all along the way using the English editorial style guide of your choice. The edited version will be returned to you for final approval before moving onto the next publishing stage.

Professional Proofreading

Where an editor’s job is to review and improve an author’s raw manuscript, and the graphic designer’s job is to arrange that raw edited text into a professional and appealing layout, a professional proofreader provides yet another set of eyes to ensure all the components fit together properly and the book is ready for public viewing and printing. The proofreader’s job is to complete the following nine-point check for you:

Interior Check

  • The front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct.
  • The back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct.
  • Headers and footers are accurate and correct.
  • Bad breaks, widows, and orphans are eliminated.
  • Text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout.
  • Margins and trim size all measure properly.
  • Spelling and punctuation is correct.

Cover Check

  • Spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly.
  • Spelling and punctuation is correct.

As shown in the above list, a professional proofreader is someone who is knowledgeable/experienced with both basic language editing (spelling and punctuation) as well as the technical aspects of book design (kerning, bleeds, trim size, et cetera). If the proofreader finds any issues in the layout, he or she will indicate these. And the graphic designer will make those corrections with your approval.

Why Do All Authors Need Editors and Proofreaders?

In the traditional publishing sector, you will have very little to no say in the design and polishing of your book. Once they buy the rights to your manuscript from you, they own it. They have all the say in every aspect of the project.

That said, in both the independent and hybrid book publishing business models, you can accept and decline each change as you see fit. And I’m willing to bet you’ll accept 95% of these professionals’ changes—if not more. You’ll be amazed by what their eyes will find that you were unable to see after viewing your own book cover and interior several times over. I’m certain you’ll be grateful that you invested in this type of support.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Preparing Your Digital Files for a Book Publisher

When preparing your digital files for a book publisher, you should follow these important guidelines. File naming conventions are especially important for proper records management.

Preparing Your Digital Files for a Book Publisher

PPG FILE NAMING CONVENTION

Each of your files should be associated with your book title, author name, and the current date. They should also indicate their individual purposes (e.g., book cover graphic, book interior text) so it is easy to differentiate each file.

Your file names should begin with the first five letters of your book title, the first five letters of your legal last name, and MMM DD YYYY for the current date. Here is an example file name for a book titled How to Publish a Book in Canada by Kim Staflund:

HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.SAMPLE.DOC

The most important parts of this file naming convention are the first three: the book title, the last name, and the current date. Ensuring consistency and continuity in these three areas will make it easier for everyone involved in the project to find files when they need to down the road. The final part of the file name is a guide to let everyone know what the file is for, and it can be typed in various ways.

Below are some acceptable file names 

for author photo files:
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.AuthorPhoto.tiff

for book cover files:
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.CoverGraphic01.jpeg
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.CoverGraphic02.jpeg

for book interior files:
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.InteriorGraphic01.tiff
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.InteriorGraphic02.tiff
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.InteriorText.doc

for promo piece files:
HOWTO.STAFL.JAN012017.PromoGraphic01.jpeg

PREPARING GRAPHIC FILES FOR PPG

A graphic is defined as any picture, illustration, chart, image, logo, or graph you would like placed either in your book interior, on your book cover, or as part of any other marketing materials we may be creating for you.

Colour Graphics

All colour graphics must be submitted to PPG in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format, with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI, using the CMYK colour model.

Black and White Graphics

All black and white graphics must be submitted to PPG in either .jpg (.jpeg) or .tif (.tiff) format with a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. For best results, they should be sent as grayscale/monochrome files rather than CMYK colour files. (We can accept CMYK colour images; however, they may not reproduce as well in black and white as a grayscale/monochrome image will.)

All graphics for your book (including all author photos) must be sent to PPG at the same time your interior text is sent.

PREPARING TEXT FILES FOR PPG

PPG will only accept text files (e.g., your manuscript) in Microsoft Word format with nothing more than the following formatting. This ensures the file is clean, making it easier for editors and designers to work with it.

  • Include all front matter, body, back matter, and back cover copy in this document in exactly the order you wish to see it appear in the final designed version of your book (NOTE: back cover copy should be placed at the very end and labelled as [Insert back cover copy here] so the designer knows what it is and where to eventually place it; but it must be included in the original text document so it can be properly edited along with everything else).
  • Leave room for the copyright page within your front matter (e.g., simply insert a blank page that says [Insert copyright page here] at the top of it, and PPG will take care of the rest for you).
  • Times New Roman font, 11 pt. size, left-aligned text
  • Entire document double-spaced
  • The only hard returns in this document should be at the end of chapter titles and paragraphs
  • Insert a page break at the end of each section and/or chapter
  • Insert an additional page break where you want blank pages to appear
  • Type [Insert image file name here with the following caption: caption text] where you wish to see an image and caption inserted. DO NOT INSERT THE IMAGE YOURSELF.
  • Italicize any words/phrases you wish to see italicized in the formatted version of your book
  • Bold any words/phrases you wish to see bolded in the formatted version of your book
  • Underline any words/phrases you wish to see underlined in the formatted version of your book

Preparing Your Digital Files for a Book Publisher

These guidelines for preparing your digital files for a book publisher are designed to make your life easier. You’ll be able to find the files you need more quickly all along the way. And it will be easier for everyone involved in your book project to keep everything organized.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Guest Bloggers Wanted

Guest bloggers wanted for the PPG Publisher’s Blog! If you have some truly helpful advice to share with aspiring and established authors, we’ll consider it. Here are our guidelines.

Guest Bloggers Wanted

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Inspire Budding Authors

There is already plenty of guidance out there (and on this blog) that warns authors about the possible difficulties they may experience during their book publishing journeys. This type of advice has value, for sure. But your guest post should be inspirational rather than cautionary.

Do you have a success story of your own to share? If you landed on a bestseller list, which one was it? Did you sell more copies of your book than expected? Did you receive some great book reviews from your fans? How did you do it? Share your inspirational advice with others so they can learn how to achieve the same. Show them the wonderful possibilities that will help them keep themselves inspired.

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Educate Indie Authors

Some authors prefer to start with self-publishing and build a solid fan base before approaching trade publishers to take on their books. This way, they’re more likely to sign a traditional publishing deal.

Others prefer to remain independent. Once they see how much success they can have on their own, why share their profits by handing over the reins to someone else?

What tips do you have for these indie authors? Where can they find the best book cover design templates for free? How can they convert their manuscripts into .EPUB and .MOBI ebook files for publishing on Kobo and Amazon? Do you have any helpful book printing tips for paperbacks or hardcovers?

What advice do you have that will make life easier for indie authors everywhere? Share it here so you can help them to self-publish more easily.

Guest Bloggers Wanted to Share Writing Tips

The purpose of this blog is to provide free tips that help aspiring and established authors with every aspect of the book publishing process from conception to publication. Writing. Graphic design. Editing. Proofreading. Indexing. Publishing. Printing. Sales. Marketing.

Since I’m a TESOL-certified sales coach for authors, my blog already contains lots of post-publication content regarding book sales and marketing. More pre-publication advice, specifically tailored toward helping writers complete their manuscripts, is also very welcome here. (Click here to view examples of past writing-related posts.)

How Do You Submit Your Original Content for Consideration?

If you have a guest post that meets all our criteria, please contact us here to tell us more about it. If we like the idea, we’ll ask you to email it to us in Microsoft Word format.

To keep the flow of information open and easy for everyone involved, there aren’t any hard and fast deadlines to meet nor specific word counts that must be met. We ask only that your guest post contains more than 300 words. And it must be original content that has never been posted online anywhere else.

Please provide an author photo along with your post. To ensure all guest bloggers receive as much value from this experience as our subscribers do, you are free to promote your own books/websites/projects here. Place links and information of this variety within an author bio at the bottom of your post.

Can You Re-post This Content Elsewhere Online?

You will remain the copyright owner of your guest post on the PPG Publisher’s Blog. However, to protect the SEO of both this blog and your content, please refrain from reposting it anywhere else within 60 days of it being posted here. If/when you do share it elsewhere, you must attribute the original source by including the following message at the top or bottom of your re-post:

This post first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog:
insert direct link to the original post here. It has been republished here with permission.

Why do you want to refrain from re-posting it anywhere else within 60 days of it being posted here? And why do you want to include that notice on your re-post? There is a very good reason that will protect your own blog’s ranking on search engines such as Google. This ebook provides important details as to why. Protect yourself! Make sure you read it before guest-posting or sharing anyone else’s content on your own blog.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee

Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee

Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee

  • Price: $ 25.00 CAD Quantity:
    Polished Publishing Group (PPG) is now offering Calgary and area writers (aspiring authors) an in-person book project consultation with a book publisher and fellow author. This one-hour coffee meeting is appropriate for those who have been working on their manuscripts for a while, have at least 30 pages written, are wondering if their projects are viable, and are seeking advice regarding the various publishing options that are available to them. Along with this one-on-one meeting, the writer will receive one free copy of either: How to Publish a Book in Canada or How to Publish a Bestselling Book. And the coffee is on us!
  • Price: $ 150.00 CAD Quantity:
    This option includes the one-hour in-person book project consultation and free book as mentioned in the above "Discuss Your Book Project Over Coffee" option. The writer is also encouraged to bring along a USB memory stick or flash drive containing up to the first 30 pages (double-spaced, using Times New Roman 12-point font, roughly 5,000 words in total) of his or her manuscript for review by one of PPG’s copy editors. The copy editor will offer basic advice and guidance on writing style, spelling, grammar, and punctuation to complement the publishing/business advice given at the one-hour in-person consultation. (Allow up to 7 business days for the copy editor’s reply.) And, of course, the coffee is on us!
  • $ 0.00 CAD
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2018 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



The Elements of a Physical Book Interior

The elements of a physical book interior include the front matter, body, and back matter. Each element might differ slightly depending on the type of book being published. For example, a non-fiction book will contain an index in its back matter whereas a fictional novel will not. Following is a list of the components you might find within each interior element.

The Elements of a Physical Book Interior

The front matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

  • Primary title page: This is usually the very first page of the book in which the title appears on an otherwise blank right-hand page.
  • Secondary title page: The secondary title page repeats the book title along with the author and publisher’s name on the next right-hand page.
  • Copyright page: The copyright page will contain the book’s ISBN(s), publication date, copyright owner’s name, and a copyright notice such as, “No portion of this book may be duplicated or used in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) for any profit- driven enterprise without prior permission in writing from the publisher.” If the author also wishes to credit any of the book’s contributors (e.g., photographers and designers), that can also be done on this page.
  • Quote page: Sometimes a quote will be placed in the front matter if it sums up the essence of the story quite well.
  • Dedication page: Oftentimes, authors will dedicate their books to their loved ones. That dedication is placed in the beginning of the book.
  • Acknowledgments page: An acknowledgments page allows an author to provide more detail when crediting the book’s various contributors rather than just listing their names on the copyright page. Here, a heartfelt thank you can be expressed in a much more meaningful way.
  • Foreword: Usually, a foreword is written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to provide a history leading up to the story being told or explain what inspired the publication of the book.
  • Preface: Where a foreword is an introduction to the book written by someone other than the author, a preface is an introduction written by the author for the same purpose. An author might also use a preface to explain what methods of research were used during the creation of the work.
  • Contents: A table of contents lists the various sections (i.e., chapters, articles, poems, et cetera) within the book and that page numbers on which they begin.

The body of a book usually contains at least the following two components:

  • Title Pages: A title page is used at the beginning of each section within the body of a book. The purpose of the title page is simply to differentiate between the sections to help organize the flow of the work.
  • Sections: Sections of a book’s body can be divided up as chapters, poems, articles, et cetera. It all depends on the type of book being published.

The back matter of a book might contain some or all of the following components:

  • Appendix: An appendix contains supplementary details that help to clarify further any legal, technical, or scientific information within the book.
  • Bibliography (a.k.a. Citations): A bibliography is a list of the books, articles, webpages, et cetera, that were sourced and referred to throughout the book.
  • Glossary: A glossary of terms contains a list of specialized words that can be found throughout the book along with their definitions.
  • Index: An alphabetized index is used to help readers pinpoint the exact pages where they can find an important name, place, or subject throughout the book. (It provides a much more precise, defined search result than the table of contents at the front does.)
  • Promotional Content: A great way to sell your back list titles is to promote them in the back matter of each new release. It is best if you can provide a graphic of each book’s front cover along with the corresponding ISBNs. This way, readers can search for these back list titles online or at bookstores if they wish to purchase them.
  • Author Biography: An updated author biography helps personalize your book for readers by giving them a bit more information about the storyteller. It is also a great way to promote past titles, thereby increasing the chance of more sales.

The Elements of a Physical Book Interior

When writing your book, keep in mind all of the above elements. Bookmark places for them within your manuscript so you remember to add them in before submitting to a publisher. These extra details will add a certain air of professionalism to your published book.

Related reading: The Elements of a Physical Book Cover

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



The Elements of a Physical Book Cover

There are different types of physical book covers ranging from case-wrapped hardcovers (cloth or laminate) or dust-jacketed cloth hardcovers to perfect bound paperbacks. Although they each have their own unique requirements in content and design, some basic elements are common to them all. Using two of my backlist paperback books as examples, you can see all the elements of a physical book cover. Each one is made up of at least the following three components: the back cover, the spine, and the front cover.

The Elements of a Physical Book Cover

Back Cover

As shown in the above visual aid, the back cover portion of a physical book cover begins on the left-hand side. The dimension of the back cover must match whatever trim size you’ve chosen your book to be (i.e., 5.5 x 8.5 inches as shown in the examples) with a minimum 1/4-inch bleed around the outside edges for trimming. It will also contain the following features:

  • An author photo (optional)
  • Back cover copy (marketing copy that summarizes the contents of the book in a compelling way)
  • Room for the book’s barcode and ISBN on the lower right-hand corner
  • Room for the publisher’s logo on the lower left-hand corner
  • A short author biography (optional)

Spine

The spine portion of a physical book cover sits in between your back and front cover. Its height will match your chosen trim size (in the case of these examples 8.5 inches). Meanwhile, the width is determined by other factors. Two factors are the final page count of your designed interior and the paper stock being used. The spine also contains the following features:

  • The book title at the top
  • Author name (pseudonym) in the centre
  • Room for the publisher’s logo

Front Cover

The front cover portion of a physical book cover sits on the right-hand side. The dimension of the front cover must match whatever trim size you’ve chosen your book to be (i.e., 5.5 x 8.5 inches as shown in the examples) with a minimum 1/4-inch bleed around the outside edges for trimming. It will also contain the following features:

  • The book title (and subtitle, if applicable)
  • Author name (pseudonym)

Additional graphics will require additional graphic design time

The Elements of a Physical Book Cover

Your cover artwork can wrap around the spine of your book and span the entire height and width of the complete cover (as shown in the first visual for the book titled 11:11); it can appear on the front cover only (as shown in the second visual for the book titled A Letter to My Son); or it can be more complex (as shown in the third visual for the book titled A Letter to My Daughter).

All of these examples are correct. If going with the first example, make sure the artwork itself contains a minimum 1/4-inch bleed all around the edges. This will ensure the outside edges of the picture aren’t trimmed unnecessarily at the printer. If going with the third example, keep in mind that additional graphics require additional work for the designer. This will equate to additional upfront design costs.

Related reading: The Elements of a Physical Book Interior

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Why Do Authors Need Graphic Designers?

Why do authors need graphic designers? Because it takes a true specialist to understand and follow each printer’s unique file creation guide.

Why do authors need graphic designers?

What is a file creation guide?

For independent (“indie”) authors who wish to produce ebooks alone, things are pretty simple. You can write your book using Microsoft Word and create a simple but attractive book cover using Canva or Amazon.

It’s when you want to create a paperback or hardcover book that things get tricky, particularly if you want that book sold in traditional bookstores. In this case, you’ll need to use a company like IngramSpark® or Lightning Source® (both Ingram Content Group subsidiaries) as your printer/distributor. They each have specific requirements regarding how your cover and interior book files should be designed. These detailed instructions are listed in multi-page file creation guides. And, unless you’re familiar with how to use Adobe Creative Suite or similar programs, you probably won’t be able to understand or follow those instructions. But a professional graphic designer will.

Why do authors need graphic designers?

Perhaps the most important reason independent authors need graphic designers is for their knowledge of colours. Believe it or not, colours are much more complicated than you may realize. How something looks on your computer screen may look completely different in printed format. There are many different reasons why.

For starters, RGB (red, green, blue) colours are what you see on your computer screen. They are created using light. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) colours, on the other hand, are created by mixing inks/toners together in varying percentages.

When you are creating an ebook only, it’s okay to use RGB colours in your design. But if you plan to print a paperback or hardcover version of your book, you should design it using CMYK colours. Otherwise, your printer may not be able to match the colours you’ve chosen since printers have a smaller colour gamut available than computer screens do.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the specialized knowledge graphic designers have to offer. You can (and should) provide a draft layout of your book’s cover and interior so your designer knows upfront what you’re looking for. But let him or her do the rest. It will be well worth it, I promise.

PPG’s Graphic Design Process

Once your manuscript is edited, it will be given to a professional graphic designer. He or she will work hard to complete a professional design of both your book cover and interior within the agreed-upon project timeline/deadline.

The design component of your PPG publishing package includes:

  • two sample cover designs and two sample interior designs for you to choose one each from (before any full proofs are completed and sent out)
  • one colour cover with either a b/w or colour interior (plus up to 10 interior graphics automatically included in each graphic design package)
  • a half hour phone consultation with the graphic designer (if needed)
  • two proofing rounds (two .PDF proofs of each component) with up to five structural changes to the cover and up to 50 typographical changes to the interior allowed per round
  • one hard proof (physical book) for final proofreading

If you need more than the standard two .PDF proofing rounds and one hard proof, you can purchase these items separately. Keep in mind that doing so will extend your book publishing timeline and also increase your costs.

While you wait to see your first design samples, I recommend you click on these two links to read more about book cover and interior design: The Elements of a Physical Book Cover and The Elements of a Physical Book Interior.

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As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2019 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.



Writer School

Michael LaRocca Talks Writer School?

In this guest post, Michael LaRocca talks writer school. Is it necessary?

Here’s something from my mailbag. “Dear Michael, do you need to do good in school if you want to be a writer? I stink at school and all my friends laugh at me when I tell them I want to write, but I’m serious.” Followed by a sentence or two of “I need your words to encourage me” or some such nonsense.

Fortunately, a writing sample is rarely attached. If it is, either it’s excellent or it stinks like rancid yak butter.

Do you have to be good in school? Given what’s passing for English in some places, I’d certainly like to see more effort given to school. If you’re a student reading this, please try to learn something while you can.

If you aspire to be an author and you did poorly in school, or if you’re just plain uneducated, don’t let it stop you. What we do as authors isn’t taught in school. They teach grammar, and bless them. I can’t teach that subject. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll stumble across some teachers who teach you how to think. But thinking is the beginning of writing, not the end, and grammar can be fixed later if you find some long-suffering editor who’s willing to do it.

In other words, school can help you with the first step or two of your journey to becoming an author. Considering how many steps come after those, don’t be discouraged by test results and report cards.

To distill what you think, feel and believe from all the trash floating around in your head, and then to actually put that on paper the way you mean to put it, is a skill that only comes from years of practice. They don’t teach it in school. At least, no school I’ve ever attended.

Also, remember that you can never learn how to write books. You can only learn how to write the book that you are currently writing.

Our emailer then mentions that her friends laugh at her when she tells them she intends to write. Why does she care? I’ve lost count of how many projects I’ve undertaken despite criticism. Not just writing, either. Life. But let me narrow my focus so I can end this rant.

I shouldn’t have to tell you why you write. You don’t need my vindication or anyone else’s. If those who haven’t even read your work can discourage you, maybe you should give up. Or leave it all in a file cabinet somewhere for people to find after you die.

But I can tell you this. If you’ll let something as silly as your grades in school stop you from even beginning to write in the first place, nothing you have to write is worth finding after you die. And if you’re angry at me for saying it, good. Prove me wrong. Write a book.

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I’ve been paid to edit since 1991 and still love it, which has made people question my sanity, but they were doing that before I started editing. I got serious about my writing in 1978. Although I’ve retired more times than Brett Favre, I’m writing my 19th book. Learn more about me at MichaelEdits.com.

© Michael LaRocca 2019