Book publishing is a lot of work. If you are doing it all yourself, it is more work than what you could imagine. What makes matters worse is it’s hard to find a helpful document that outlines it all for you. This means you spend an enormous amount of time doing research. I’m starting a little series called, “Children’s Book Publishing 101,” which I hope helps you on your journey. Of course, these steps apply not only to publishing a children’s book but publishing any book. Here are the first three things you should start with as you get your children’s book ready to publish.

The World of Online Book Printers PT. 1

Book printers…

 

I automatically roll my eyes and start shaking my head when I say those words. It is the
most frustrating aspect to publishing your books.

 

I’ve had a lot of experience with printers in general. I’ve professionally printed numerous items
from business cards to huge fine art canvases. All printers are not equal, but I’ve found that
even the worst commercial printers I’ve ever encountered haven’t compared to book printers.

 

Book printers do NOT provide professionals with the information they need to get a good print.
The instructions they provide are utterly lacking on every front, but they are quick to tell you that
for a price they will hook you up with a professional designer to help you in this area.

 

This means it’s a lot of trial and error, which costs a lot of money in the end.

Each printer has specific requirements for your book file. For instance, IngramSpark wants a white
bar placed on each side of the binded paper to help seal the pages together. CreateSpace doesn’t
require this. In essence, for every book, you will have to make another master document to tweak
for the other printer. This means you are going to need different document settings for softcover,
hardcover, and your Kindle book.

 

For my latest book, If Only ~ Biblical Truth for Children, I have six rejected copies sitting on my desk
from CreateSpace. The problems with those books were improper cut marks (it showed white marks
where they overcut from the bleed) or splats from the printer that messed up pages. I even got a book
back that had half of a Spanish book placed into my book. How is that for quality control?

My book merged with another book.
My book merged with another book.

 

Believe it or not, I am still trying to get IngramSpark to actually print me a descent copy of my hardcover
of If Only ~ Biblical Truth for Children. I’ve been working with them for four months now. I’ve
encountered these problems.

 

  1. Messed up cut marks
  2. Messed up cover (times 2)
  3. Messed up interiors

 

You have to have extra perseverance in the printing realm of book production. It is not for the fainthearted.

 

Here are some things I wish I knew starting out.

 

  1. Start with Createspace for printing. They are cheaper, and getting test prints is not only faster, but their
    customer service will quickly give you a free print if there is an issue with your book. They also don’t
    require the white box on the interior of each page, which is a hassle to set up.
  2. On my latest book, If Only ~ Biblical Truth for Children, I created the cover in Photoshop, and I used these
    settings to export.

 

Export as a PDF-High Quality (don’t check “standard”, and I used Acrobat 5). No color conversion, and
check “Include Destination Profile.”

 

Make sure you UNCHECK “preserve PS editing capabilities” and everything under the options category.

 

OR

 

It will not upload to Createspace. When it doesn’t load to Createspace you don’t get a button. The website
won’t tell you what is wrong. You are left thinking it is some website issue. I spent an hour on the phone
with a technician, and then I finally stumbled upon what was causing this issue. The PDF Photoshop is
exporting is slightly different with the Metadata, and CreateSpace doesn’t know what to do with that
information, so the website won’t take it, but it won’t tell you it’s not taking it. You are left with a page that won’t respond.

 

  1. When you make your PDF interior, you are going to want to export it with these settings. I use InDesign.

 

I used PDF:X-1a:2001

Standard PDF/X-1a:2001

Acrobat 4

In the output dialogue box put “No color conversion & Include all profiles”

 

Createspace doesn’t care if you include profiles. They just ignore them. However, IngramSpark
wants your profiles stripped from your document or they will give you warnings and make you sign
a paper saying that they are not responsible for the outcome.

 

Profiles are basically the color codes to follow when printing. I color calibrate my machine, so I know
I am looking at the right colors. Good printers give you profiles to install on your machine, so you know
what you see is pretty much what they will print. Book publishers not only don’t give you profiles,
but they ignore or strip what profiles you are packaging with your document. This means….

 

You never know what you might get back from them. You in essence are walking blind.

The picture above shows all the ink blots from a poor print job

 

 

If you are up on technology, you might be wondering why all my settings are so old. Book printers do
NOT keep up with the latest stuff. If you enable transparency in your document, you are going to
encounter problems. I now flatten all my work, and I place a JPEG inside of Indesign, so when I export it,
I have less issues. This makes for more work, as you can imagine, but I’ve had less print problems.

 

My technical process is as follows:

 

I build my main pictures in Photoshop and Corel Painter. I keep my master copy of everything merged
in Photoshop. I make two copies. One copy is an RGB (screen copy needed for promotions and the
Kindle version), and the other is a CMYK (print copy needed for book printers). I lighten my CMYK
copy because things always print darker with printers. I use either a “Curves” or “Brightness/Contrast Adjustment.”

 

I export a copy of this out of Photoshop (PS), and I use these settings:

 

PDF-X4:2008, acrobat 7 with Standard PDF-X-4:2-10 selected. The automatic settings under “output” are as follows:

 

No color conversion, and then Document CMYK-US Webcoated Swop 2

 

I also unchecked “embed SRGB color profile.”

 

I then take this flattened JPEG and I put it into Indesign. This means if something is wrong, you gotta go
back to your main PS picture, fix that, export a new one, and import that into Indesign.

 

When you export your complete color book into a PDF from Indesign, for the printer, you want to have the following settings:

 

Createspace Printer Settings

 

PDF:/X-1a:2001
Standard PDF/X-1a:2001

Acrobat 4

In the dialogue box put “No color conversion & Include all profiles” (remember you lightened it already in
PS to compensate for the print.

 

You must have a separate PDF for your cover and your interior.

 

Remember, these are the settings from my notes, which I am using. You might have to experiment for
yourself. Always get a test print to check your document.

 

Next month we will tackle IngramSpark Publishing

A unique, Christian, read aloud book designed to enable parents and grandparents to easily share Biblical wisdom with the children in their lives.
Don’t read it once and put it on the shelf. Take the book further. Each purchase comes with the ability to download free resources, which will enable you to impress God’s word into the minds and hearts of the children you love.

 

 

 

If Only is a unique, Christian, read aloud book designed to enable parents and grandparents to easily share Biblical truth with the children in their lives.
Don’t read it once and put it on the shelf. Take the book further. Each purchase comes with the ability to download free resources, which will enable you to impress God’s word into the minds and hearts of the children you love.

 

6 Responses

  1. Veronica

    I had to laugh when I read about your book being combined with another book. I never would have expected that as a possibility.

    • L.A. James

      Ha! I never thought it was a possibility either. I’ve learned that what I didn’t think possible continues to be possible.

  2. Erica

    How long did it take you to learn all these programs? I want to get started, but it seems overwhelming.

    • L.A. James

      I understand how overwhelming it feels. Baby steps take you places. It will take a couple of years (with teachers) to learn the programs. I don’t know if you fully learn it all. I’ve been working in these programs for over five years, and I’m still learning things about it.

      That is one thing that makes it exciting. The ability to keep learning.

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