About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

How Big is a Book?

As part of my ‘Show and Tell’ process I’m going to be creating a first draft of my book cover – but before I do that I needed to know how big the book is going to be – not the number of pages but the physical size of the cover. How do you decide how big a book is going to be? Well the accepted wisdom is that you go to a bookshop and look at the size that books in your genre tend to be. But since when did I deal in accepted wisdom? I’m going on experience, which tells me that were I to self-publish this book the size has a direct impact in how much the books cost to produce. And this in turn impacts how much the book costs to the purchaser and how much I make from a copy, which is part of what affects how long it takes to recover any expenses I have had in getting the book out (trust me, I intend these to be minimal!) So to find out how much it takes to produce different sizes of books my first port of call was my favourite self-publishing site www.lulu.com.
Now you can probably find a handy cost calculator in all the wonderful information pages on Lulu, but because I have an account the quickest option for me is to create a new project and literally try the sizes out. Here is a screen print of where I am doing that. It has a handy section on the top right to show me how much a book costs for the size I have chosen, and I can alter the number of pages I am calculating for. I am guessing at about a hundred pages (Their Cancer – Your Journey was 230 and this made it expensive to produce and heavy to post) so I tried out different options for that number of pages. There wasn’t a lot in it but there were differences. Of the ones I tried the most expensive was Pocket size and the cheapest was called Royal. Now I would probably prefer this to be a smaller book but that would lead to more pages and even more expense, so for now the decision is Royal – very appropriate with our Jubilee celebrations only next week.
Lulu is very helpful with telling me exactly how large that means I need to make the cover image, so that means I am able to start on translating my imagination into reality.
Before I made the final decision, though, I did check out a local printing firm for cost in case I decided to go for a different size to make for ease of getting copies printed locally. But even for their cheapest size (A5) they were going to work out more expensive than Lulu, so I stuck with my original choice.

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Comments on: "How Big is a Book?" (3)

  1. Now does that mean that you are writing the book after deciding on the most cost effective size and if that’s the case how will you make sure your content ‘fits’?

    • Hi Linda, Yes it does mean that. As to how I will make sure the content fits, I don’t see why it shouldn’t fit any format really. The way I have worked before is to write the book and do the initial edits using Word, then take the Lulu template for the book format I have chosen and apply all the formatting to my existing document until I am happy with the result. Choosing a larger format may result in less pages, which of course is good for the printing costs. It is possible that a thin book might sell less well in a bookshop, but I don’t think many people look at that when buying online. And I have a friend who sells very thin books successfully through local bookshops too, so it may not matter anyway. And of course I reserve the right to change my mind on the format later (or for my publisher to do so 😉 on my behalf ) but this gives me something to work with now as I create a mock-up of my cover.

      • I love the idea of thin books because let’s face it our average attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Something to read and learn from very quickly suits a lot of people so you will probably have a larger audience as a result.

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