Understanding the Book Manufacturing Process as an Author
The real estate industry is all about location, location, location but in book manufacturing, we focus on communication, communication, communication. Every book is unique: page count, bind style, cover treatment, paper stock, etc. Since each project is different, the most important feature in your relationship with your book manufacturer is communication. As a self-published author, you should be able to connect with your manufacturer’s representative and customer service department via phone and email. It is the manufacturers’ job to bring your project from files to a physical product and in order to do so; we need to understand exactly what you desire. Each and every element must be communicated properly to ensure a successful result. We want to understand your vision. The more detail you can provide, the better. Photos, samples, and files are very helpful.
Start early and do your research on book manufacturing.
Examine a manufacturer’s website to learn about their capabilities. Formulate questions and reach out to an account representative. Your rep will gather details and offer recommendations. First, the rep will need to determine where you are in the process. Have the interior and cover of your book been designed yet? If not, give direction to your designer by finding a book you like and ask the designer to model the files based on that book. What is the genre? We can offer recommendations for materials, bind style, plus bells & whistles. Are files finished? If so, the representative can learn a great deal from examining the files. We can also alert you if your files have issues. Ask your representative for samples of books that are similar to the type of book you would like us to produce. Offer feedback on the samples to further inform what is needed to reach your goal. If you are new to publishing and printing, familiarize yourself with printing lingo: https://www.printindustry.com/Glossary.aspx This will help you understand what is presented on an estimate.
The questions below will give you an idea of the information your rep will gather to provide an accurate estimate of the finished book.
• What is the title of your book? FUN FACT: We need to be able to differentiate your project from others so your unique title is the best identifier. If you don’t want to share the exact title, please offer a working title.
• How many total pages are in the interior? How many of those are color pages? FUN FACT: Unlike offset printers, Total Printing Systems can produce in page counts divisible by 2 for perfect and case bound.
• What is the finished size (trim size)?
• What type of binding would you like? (Go to www.tps1.com/our-focus/printing-books/ to view various bind styles.)
• Are there photos and/or illustrations in the interior? Bleeds?
• Do you require coffee table quality?
• What type of paper would you like? FUN FACT: Every manufacturer will have a list of in-house stocks which will be the most cost-effective but can also accommodate special orders if desired.
• What type of cover/jacket stock?
• Full color on the cover or jacket?
• What type of cover coating? FUN FACT: Soft-touch matte feels like suede which offers a nice tactile experience.
• Hard copy press proofs or PDF soft proofs? FUN FACT: We highly recommended Hard copy proofs for first printings. Once you have established a relationship with your printer and are comfortable with a few projects moving to PDF soft proofs will offer a bit of savings.
• Do you have any special type of packaging or shipping requirements such as shrink-wrappIng? Is there a size or weight limitation for your cartons?
• Please describe any additional items… Cover treatments/finishing? Colored endsheets? Perforation? Ribbons? Misc.?
• How many books would you like printed? Provide multiple quantities to see how the unit price is affected.
With the questions above in mind, it’s time to get a quote via a representative. Fun Fact: If you are sure about the specifications, you may want to try our Instant Quote generator at www.tps1.com. Please be prepared to provide your contact information upon registration. The details of your saved quote will be sent via email.
Specific to Total Printing Systems, whether you save an Instant Quote or work through your rep, a formal estimate will be emailed to you. Please review it carefully to be sure we have correctly interpreted your requirements. Contact us with questions or adjustments.
Once you are satisfied, we can get the ball rolling.
• Upon request, a representative will send you a cover and/or jacket template. Your book’s spine size is based on the number of pages and paper stock you chose. Please be sure your file matches the template dimensions. FUN FACT: there is a template generator at www.tps1.com under the Resources tab that will create templates in a format that works best for your needs.
• If you haven’t already, now is the time to do final proofreading, as any changes made after initial proofs will incur additional charges and delays. When your final files are ready, upload one pdf of the interior & one pdf of the cover and/or jacket via a link provided by your rep.
• Submit an order to your account representative by accepting the estimate or emailing a purchase order.
• Please include shipping and packaging requirements with your order.
• If payment terms have not been established, Total Printing Systems require a 50 percent deposit on your order prior to beginning the process.
A customer service rep (CSR) will be assigned and will process your order. That CSR will become your primary contact and will give you up-to-date information as your project progresses. Your CSR will contact you for additional details such as confirming shipping informations, timing, overs, etc. Please make your CSR is aware of any specific in-hand date. The files will be moved to prepress to be preflighted. If the files pass inspection, press proofs of the interior and the cover and/or jacket, will be produced on the same press and using the same materials on which the full book run will be printed. This ensures that there will be no differences between the proofs you approve and the final printed piece. To save time and money, proofs are not bound or laminated. Allow 2-3 days for proofing and remember the time you hold and review the proof DOES impact your final delivery date. Please offer approval promptly and return the proofs so the production team may reference them as needed throughout the manufacturing process. As you can see, the procedure outlined above will take some time. It is critical and valuable time spent to ensure a good outcome.
Please plan your project well in advance if possible. It is best to schedule events after you know the print production schedule. FUN FACT: Warehousing is cheap but rush delivery is expensive. Multiple factors can contribute to longer than normal schedules, such as time of year. Late summer begins the busy season as publishers rush to have print runs finished in time for the school year. On the heels of that rush are the titles that need to be in-hand for holiday sales. Last year many publishers held off on their spring titles because of COVID-19 and then printers became overwhelmed in the fall when publishers moved ahead with those titles.
Another big factor in the last couple of years has been the loss of a few large book manufacturers, Thomson-Shore and Edwards Brothers Malloy to name two. The manufacturers still standing have to make up for all the press time that was lost. As you can imagine, that means a greater number of projects trying to be produced through a smaller funnel. Again, communication is key. Discuss your timing needs with your rep so we can plan accordingly. Your representative should be considered a resource. Please reach out, form a relationship, and experience a smooth journey to see your books in print.
About the Author
Meg Souza is the Marketing Manager and Account Representative at Total Printing Systems. Meg has been part of the book manufacturing industry since 1998. During that time she has worn many hats, including roles in marketing/sales, production management, prepress, print production, advertising, creative direction, and book cover design. Meg enjoys guiding authors and self-publishers through the intricacies of the printing process to produce a beautifully printed, finished product. You may communicate with Meg via firstname.lastname@example.org