A Starter Guide for Printing Your First Book

By on May 2nd, 2012 in How to

The world of digital printing and book publishing can seem daunting to those producing their first book.  To help make sense of it all, we compiled six quick tips from our customer service and pre-press departments to help guide you through the complexities of the process.

Tip #1:   Let’s start with the basics: what software program should you make your book in?  Several common programs can be used for your files, including Word (for text), Publisher, Photoshop (for covers), Quark, and Adobe InDesign.  Which software generally doesn’t work?  Designing in Power Point is not a good option for book production as it is not a very flexible program to manipulate and make changes in.

Tip #2:  Now that you’ve completed your files, you’ll need to convert them to PDF (Portable Document Format) files.  PDF files have become the industry-standard for printing books, and virtually all book printers require them today. You can create (or convert to) your own PDF files using popular programs such as Adobe Acrobat Writer.

Make certain that the editing of your book is completed before either the PDF conversion process or the printing and physical proof process are initiated otherwise significant additional charges may be incurred.

Tip #3:  Two separate files are needed—one file for the cover and one for the interior (text pages) of the book.  The page size should be the final trim size of the book, so for example:  a 6 x 9 book will have a  6 x 9 page size.   Proper pagination (page order and layout) is vital to a professional looking book. To ensure the best quality for your book, make sure odd pages fall on the right. Page 1 should be on the first odd numbered after the front matter. Make sure your odd page numbers are on the right, evens on the left, or centered at the bottom of the page.

Tip #4:  Cover artwork is generally where most challenges arise in the book production process and so we’ve included a simplified cover layout:

Cover layout for a softcover book

The cover file should include only the front and back covers of the book with the back cover on left side and the front cover on the right side.   A spine must also be included in the artwork, and it must be wide enough to hold the page count of the book.   The spine width will vary depending on the number of pages in the book and the weight and caliper of the paper selected for the job.  It is calculated using PPI, which stands for “pages per inch.”  Every printer has their own preferred house sheets, so PPI will vary from printer to printer and from paper to paper.

There’s a simple formula which determines that width:  Simply take the number of pages in your book and divide that figure by your text paper’s PPI (pages per inch). Where do you get the PPI?  It depends on what kind of paper you’re using.  Here’s an example using one our most common sheets: Let’s say your book has 250 pages and you are printing it on a 50# natural uncoated paper which has a PPI of 500. Then the width of your book’s spine will be 250 ÷ 500 = .50 or half an inch.  That’s for a paperback.  For a hard cover book, you have to add the thickness of the boards.   Once you know the PPI of the paper, you can use our templates to plug in your book dimensions.  Both soft-cover and hard-cover templates along with a dust jacket version are available on our website.

Tip #5:  When your design features a mix of photography and text, make sure your images are 300 DPI (dots per inch).  Remember large, high-quality JPEGs will produce the best results for photography. Also be sure you’ve accounted for the ‘bleed’ in your design, filling this area with any background colors or image.   Allow for an additional ¼” around your image to ensure all important parts of your design are kept within the safe area.

Tip #6:  One last step remains before submitting your files:  Pre-flighting.  This important step verifies that all files are complete, fonts are not corrupt, and all image files are in the correct format.   When pre-flighting a document make sure to embed all fonts into the file. This includes even common fonts (Tahoma, Times New Roman, etc.).   In some programs (Microsoft Word 2010 comes to mind) there is a box that is checked by default “Do not Embed Common Fonts” which can sometimes cause problems with printing.

Lastly, be sure to call us if you have any questions and talk with either our pre-press or customer service departments!   A little time spent on the front end will save you hours of time later!

Please visit pubgraphics.com for more information.

Sketches, Speeches and Self-Publishing: A Love Story

By on April 27th, 2012 in Publisher Spotlight

Sometimes it’s impossible not to read a page or two of book files when they are sent to us for printing at Publishers’ Graphics.  (It’s my job, right?)  But in the case of Jason Kotecki’s book, Escape Adulthood, I read pretty much the whole book, and laughed through a good portion of it.

Jason and Kim Kotecki launched a business that’s now comprised of books, gifts and t-shirts, a cartoon strip series, artwork, and more recently speaking engagements. We thought Jason’s funny story about creating a business and becoming a published author would be inspirational to other writers… and so we’re sharing it here:

Jason Kotecki’s first book helped launch a business

It all started out as a way to win over a girl.

I met Kim a long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far, far away. We were part of a group of friends who decided to go Christmas caroling. She was there to sing; I was there to win over a girl. Except it wasn’t Kim. Even though the fluffy white snowflakes provided a very romantic backdrop, I never got the Hollywood movie ending I had hoped for with the girl I was chasing at the time. But Kim, in her red tights, reindeer boxer shorts, Santa hat, and combat boots certainly captured my attention and wouldn’t let go.

In high school I had used my artistic skills to try and win over many a female. I drew cartoons, cute teddy bears, and things like that. Early positive feedback always gave way to the line I wish upon no man: “You’re more like a brother to me.”


For some unknown reason, I tried again with Kim. We shared a very childlike spirit, and so, I used childhood photos to develop cartoon characters based on what we looked like as kids. The characters made their way to homemade (aka cheap) gifts, like greeting cards and calendars and wooden figurines. Amazingly, she seemed to like them, and never once gave me the line about me being like a brother. (I think I owe a lot to the fact that she only had sisters and didn’t actually know what having a brother was like.)

I always thought the characters would make great stars of a comic strip, and I spent a few years sketching ideas here and there. After using them as a big part of my proposal to Kim, I did develop a comic. Sort of a cross between Peanuts and Calvin & Hobbes, it explored life through the eyes of children. I did a daily strip for over six years, posting it mostly online but also getting it in a couple dozen papers across the Midwest.

Interestingly, that led to opportunities to put on cartooning workshops in schools. Meanwhile, a friend urged me to write a book about my life philosophies that I often touched on in my comic strip. I’ve always thought that we have much to learn from children, and that they hold many solutions to the problems of stress and burnout that we adults often face, if only we’d stop in the middle of our busyness long enough to pay attention.

Escape Adulthood: 8 Secrets from Childhood for the Stressed-Out Grown-Up became my first book. And that opened up even more doors. The book became my best business card, and helped lead to speaking engagements across the country, which is the primary way we make a living now. Kim, who taught kindergarten for the first five years of our marriage, now works with me on our business. Our mission is to fight Adultitis, and help people use strategies from childhood to create lives with less stress and more fun. Several books have followed, and we’ve used Publishers’ Graphics to print that first one as well as our latest, called Just You Wait: Adventures in Fighting Adultitis as First Time Parents.  They provide the quality and price point that allows us to sell our books online and at our speaking arrangements for profits that people signed with traditional book publishers can only dream about.  It’s hard for me to believe that I am able to make a living doing what I love, in a way that combines my gifts of art, writing, and speaking.

Even harder to believe is the fact that it all started out as a way to win over a girl.

For more information about Kim and Jason, you can visit their website.

For more information about Publishers’ Graphics, please visit pubgraphics.com

How writing a book positions you as an expert in your field

By on April 25th, 2012 in How to

Carolyn Ash turned her passion for skin care and education into a popular first book entitled Timeless Skin: Healthy Skin for a Lifetime.  After being discovered through the publicity from Timeless Skin, Carolyn has enjoyed educating people all over the country.  Her writing efforts have gotten her notoriety in Dallas, Chicago, and in her current hometown, Boulder, Colorado.  Her 2nd book, Skin Care from A to Z,  printed at Publishers’ Graphics, answered reader’s questions and featured case studies of clients from her salons.   

Carolyn says, “Over the years I have met numerous people who have a book in their head and a dream to ‘one day’ write it and have it published. I was that person 10 years ago. Now two publications later, I have to say that writing books has been a wonderful way to promote my business as well as position myself as an expert in my profession.”

We think Carolyn’s words of encouragement will inspire you to consider writing and publishing a book.  Here are her great tips for getting started…

1. Writing a book can help people. Writing about what you know offers people the ability to learn from your years of experience. I’m in a personal service industry, and prior to my first book coming out I was basically helping one person at a time. Now through my books, I can help people who may not be able to come to my office, yet they are able to absorb the knowledge I am imparting through the written word.

2. Writing establishes you as an expert in your field. As I mentioned, many people want to write a book, but few actually do the work. Holding up a book you have written helps to elevate you as an expert in your field like no other. Become a trusted resource with a published book!

3. If you want to reach a wider audience, write a book. Perhaps you’re a coach, a consultant, you own a small business or are in the personal services arena. By writing even a short book, you can enlarge your area of influence. You’ll not only reach your target audience, but your book may spill over into an even wider group of new followers. Reaching a larger audience equals more credibility for you and can translate into more clients for your business.

4. Writing a book brings self-gratification. I love to write, so publishing books is a wonderful way for me to get information out to the public while giving me a huge amount of self-satisfaction. I love the entire process, from the initial outline to opening a newly printed book. Writing a book will give you the confidence to excel in your chosen field. There’s nothing better than accomplishing a long-standing goal!

5. Writing puts you in the media’s headlights. If you have a published book you are more likely to be approached by the media for quotes and interviews. After all—you’re the expert! You have taken the time and trouble to write down what you know, and the media is always looking for new ideas or even a new angle on an old story. They need content, so provide it for them! 

6. Writing a book can and will drive traffic to your website. If you are looking for a great way to get people to your website, then get that book out into the world! Within the pages of any book you write, you have endless possibilities to promote yourself. With an About the Author page you can add information to drive people to your website, other books you’ve written; the list goes on. However you want to promote yourself—include it in your book! 

7. Increase your revenue with the written word. Counter to what many people think, writing a book doesn’t necessarily make you a millionaire (unless you’re JK Rowling!). But having one or more products (books) out on the market can bring in extra revenue year after year. This is especially true if you write about an evergreen subject (something that doesn’t go out of style), then you can sell books forever!

8. A published book is the best business card ever! I think of my books as a marketing tool for my business. Yes, they are information books and have helped a lot of people. But they are also the best marketing tool I have at my fingertips. Put two experts side by side: One has written one or more books, the other has not. Who would you choose as your go-to expert? I would pick the author over the other expert every time. And so will your prospective clients. 

9. You have a large knowledge base, why not write it down? I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s best (and perhaps easiest) to write about what you know—and it’s true! The subject you are well-versed in is the best one to write about. Even if you’re just an expert in your own mind, writing and publishing a book will establish you as an expert in everyone else’s minds too. When you write about what you know, you may find you have so much to say;  the pages just write themselves! 

10. Don’t be afraid to write a book! Perhaps you can come up with many reasons not to write a book, but my suggestion is to acknowledge the fear and publish anyway. Even if there are already 10 books on the subject you want to write about, you may have a different angle that hasn’t been explored or you have something entirely new to say. Write about the subject you know well and are passionate about, and don’t let fear be your guide.

Carolyn wraps up her tips by saying:  “Publishing a book helped to establish me as an industry leader and an expert in my field. The rewards you will experience far outweigh any apprehension you may have about starting the process. So—write!  You’ll be so happy you (finally) did.”

Learn more about Carolyn at www.carolynash.com

Visit www.pubgraphics.com for more information.

Creating a book trailer: Hiring a videographer, Part 2

By on April 20th, 2012 in How to
Love Letters from Poverty Flat

Book trailers have flooded the market, quickly becoming one of the hottest promotional tools used by publishers and authors to publicize new books.  In Part 1 of our two-part series, we shared some tips for creating a book trailer from Pattie Olson, a videographer who has produced several trailers, including one for a book printed recently by Publishers’ Graphics: Love Letters from Poverty Flat, a Montana memoir written by Alberta Dunn Lindsay.

Pattie got her start in videography when she purchased her first video camera in 1996.  At the same time, she bought mountain property and built her own home from the ground up…really…every board, every nail.  Pattie says: “It was during that time that I spent many hours watching DIY construction videos, some good and some really bad ones. I realized that there was an opportunity to create videos for more than just construction, and that’s also when the digital world opened up with tremendous possibilities.”

In 2000, when digital video editing technology was becoming available for everyone, not just for the big production houses, she started Zoom’n Dog Productions.  Pattie has produced several “how to” videos, and her expertise also covers a variety of genres including interviews, author promotions, business profiles, corporate training, and real estate.

If you decide you want to write books rather than produce a book trailer, here in Part 2, she shares a few helpful hints when shopping for a video producer:

1).  The better prepared you are, usually the better price you will get.  You need to have all the elements you wish to see in your trailer available to the producer of your video, along with an outline or story board that the editor uses as a guide when putting it all together. If you don’t have all the photos, video clips, music and narrative available, the producer will charge accordingly to provide them.

2). Please realize the producer probably has not read your book, so it is up to you to convey to them the feel you want in your trailer.

3). Ask to see examples of other projects they have done as well as references.

4) Get a contract with the producer that covers price, responsibilities, and due date.

Pattie concludes by saying, “Realize that a book trailer is a visual/audio extension of your book.  Just as writing a book requires forethought and planning, a book trailer that will entice a reader to purchase that book benefits from the same attention to planning and preparation.”

You can learn more information about Pattie at Zoomndog.com.

For more information on Publishers’ Graphics, visit pubgraphics.com. 

Creating a book trailer: How to transfer the “feel” of your book into a video, Part 1

By on April 17th, 2012 in How to

Pattie Olson has been involved in video production since 1996, when she purchased her first video camera and began experimenting on various personal projects.    In 2000, when digital video editing technology was becoming available for everyone, not just for the big production houses, she launched Zoom’n Dog Productions. 

We caught up with Pattie when she was hired to create a book trailer for LOVE LETTERS FROM POVERTY FLAT,  by Alberta Dunn Lindsay, a memoir printed at Publishers’ Graphics late last year.


We asked Pattie to compile a list of suggestions for creating a book trailer from a videographer’s perspective and here, in Part 1, she provides her tips for creating a book trailer:

1). Determine how you want your video to represent your book. Is your book bright and cheerful or dark and mysterious?  Is there tension and high drama, or is it historical?  How will you present that feeling visually and what elements need to be considered?

2). Photos, video clips, graphics, text:   You can use your own photos, video clips and graphics or you can purchase royalty free images from places like iStock.com.  Be creative with fonts, but make sure they are legible.  Thin lined fonts can be harder to read, especially when placed on a moving background.

3). Music, sound effects, narration:  Royalty free music is also available.  There are companies such as stock20.com that sell any kind of music you can think of.  Narration can be done by yourself, an acquaintance, or you can hire professional voice over talent.  Narration can be recorded with an inexpensive mic and freeware called Audacity, http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/    Realize you will not be getting the same sound quality produced in a voice over booth, but if you want to use your own narration, this is easy software to learn and the price is right!

4). View other trailers and decide what you like.  Notice how the various elements are used in a  video.  What is the pace of the video?  Are there fast transitions or gentle dissolves?   Are the transitions smooth? Does the text slide around the screen or blast in, in time to the music?  Is it presented in black and white, colored or sepia tone?  Does the music complement the video or is it distracting?  If there is narration, is it clear and can you understand it?

5). Length– keep it short.  There are millions of videos on-line and if a viewer gets bored, they are one click away from leaving your video. Keep it short, (under 3 minutes) unless you are offering something that can keep them watching.

4). Putting it together.  Usually computers come with some type of software for doing basic editing, such as iMovie.  There is also editing software under $100 that does a great job, such as Adobe Premiere Elements.  Like any software, there is a learning curve, but luckily, there are lots of video tutorials available to teach you!

5).Quality. This is subjective to a degree.  It’s OK to use your artistic talents to add special   treatments to your project as long as the viewer will be able to understand visually what you are trying to convey and that the audio is appropriate.

6).Call to action.  Don’t forget to include where they can purchase your book.  Include your website address, a photo of the book cover, and any additional locations where the book is sold, such as Kindle or Amazon.

7). Distribution.  There are plenty of video distribution sites, YouTube being the largest.  (FYI, YouTube is the second largest search engine only behind Google.)  Get the video on your website, on Facebook, link to it via Twitter, and ask your friends to share it.  When you contact a bookstore or book club about doing a reading/signing, make sure you include the link to your video.

Do you have a book trailer you’d like to share?  Use the comments section below to add a link.   Should you decide that putting together a book trailer is just not in your skill set, Part 2 will focus on tips for hiring a videographer.


A Print on Demand Success Story

By on April 12th, 2012 in Publisher Spotlight

Sarah King’s passion is stained glass. It’s a passion that has led her to undertake research on the history and evolution of art glass, so prevalent in the Oak Park, Illinois neighborhood where she and her husband reside and own a business.

And that’s how we found out about Sarah.   Sarah has printed two books with Publishers’ Graphics:   ART GLASS IN 1909 and more recently ART GLASS IN 1913.   Both are facsimiles of actual art glass catalogues published by the National Ornamental Glass Manufacturers Association.

Sarah King’s second book, ART GLASS IN 1913

The catalogs showcase collections of residential and ecclesiastical art glass designs popular in bungalows and middle-class homes built in the early 20th century.   With over 500 images in each catalog, it was important to Sarah to accurately represent the intricate patterns, colors, and details of the stained glass images.

Of Publishers’ Graphics, Sarah says:   “Everyone has been very impressed with the print quality, paper, and price of the books.  The printing depicts the graphic detail of the designs and the clear subtle colors of the antique prints without looking new or glossy. The cover paper with its matte lamination is especially suited to new books that need to look clean but old-fashioned.   Publisher’s Graphics offers all the convenience of short-run or “print-on-demand” publishing with all the quality any book lover would demand from a traditional publisher. “

Original art glass design in the book

Sarah is particularly intrigued with reflective gold glass because Chicago is the only city in the country to feature this gold mirrored glass in thousands of its residential glass windows.  The pure 24 karat gold material was used in the famous Frank Lloyd Wright houses and his Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.

Sarah’s passion for Chicago’s stained glass and especially the double-sided gold mirrors in the historic Chicago bungalows has led her from restoring stained glass to selling mirroring supplies online through angelgilding.com .  Her goal is to help homeowners and stained glass studios appreciate, preserve, and restore this uniquely Chicago art form.

For more information, please visit pubgraphics.com.

Publishers’ Graphics Expands Global Distribution Network

By on April 12th, 2012 in News and announcements

Publishers’ Graphics has formed a strategic partnership with an India-based printer that will expand their network of overseas print providers.   This new print provider will manufacture and distribute a full range of print to order products including hardcover and softcover titles.

The addition of an India-based partner brings together a growing network of overseas print  manufacturing and distribution facilities that includes the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore, Russia, and Australia.   With an established global network stretching from Canada to Australia, PG has the reach needed to optimize sales in the fast-growing European and Asian markets.

“Our customers will gain access to new sales channels without the worry of dealing with importation and customs issues and shipping and warehousing costs,” says Nick Lewis, President of Publishers’ Graphics.   He adds, “Expanding our global print network to include India is just one more way we’re making PG the most cost-effective and convenient option available for publishers to sell more books to more readers both in India and around the world.”

PG expands its market to India

These strategic partnerships enable customers to streamline their workflows, eliminate customs and shipping expenses and consolidate ordering and invoicing.  While it may have previously taken 20-30 days to print and ship books to overseas locations, books can now be printed and delivered within 3-5 days, resulting in significant cost and time savings.

As global distribution systems evolve, Publishers’ Graphics continues to lead the way with innovative procedures and workflows that bring customized solutions to its customers.   Headquartered in Carol Stream, IL, PG also has in-plant satellite operations in Florence, Kentucky, and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

For more information, please visit pubgraphics.com.