How to get a book into production

Table of Contents

Books are ideas, then manuscripts, then paperbacks. Knowing how to make a paperback is a certain way to deliver a book to the world.

I formatted my debut book using InDesign and a lot of printer advice in 2012. It took many hours, and I’d already logged four years of publication layout work in the program. The cost was my time. The printer who was coaching my first-time book layout was also printing the book. Even with my experience and her coaching, her production manager needed to adjust the files. No charge.

The next time out, I knew about the heavy lifting. I was now printing at IngramSpark. Back while they were Lightning Source, printing POD books, they did not develop a great reputation for fixing customer errors. I hired Asya Blue to do the simple layout for 174 pages of memoir. Lovely, clever chapter headings were mine. Asya was there every step of the way to field Ingram’s error messages. No extra charge from her. A bargain, for a pro layout.

Get proofreading into a workflow

Take note. After you design your book, it goes to proofreading at that point. Good proofers take a PDF of your book and mark it up with corrections. Someone must now go into your layout file of the book and apply those corrections. A good book designer does this for you. A great one doesn’t charge extra. We’re now in proof on a 332-page nonfiction book, in a project I’m managing, and the proofing marks will be extensive. You proof after layout to see what the formatting does to your book.

Some book designers build an ebook file (EPUB) at the same time they lay out your paperback. You can bid your job to include both versions.

In 2019, I took the raw files for my memoir into Vellum. It’s a terrific program and has gotten even better in the last three years. You have maximum control and many choices. Nonfiction really demands a lot of control. Novels, memoirs, not nearly as much. I love Vellum, but use it rarely.

Atticus is new to the game but the best option for Windows users.

Try to build a book workflow that lets you control corrections without driving you crazy over learning the little nuances of book design. Asya is great.

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