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Book Printing Estimates

Printing

January 10, 2021

Writing printing specifications for accurate quotes.

Whether you decide to print traditional offset or on-demand, all printers need basic information to get you accurate book printing estimates. Among other details, an accurate printing estimate requires a quantity, a trim size, and a page count. If you are in the predesign, early planning stage of self-publishing, you may ask, “How the heck do I know my page count and trim size when all I have is a manuscript?” This is where a Fact-Finding Mission can really come in handy. A Fact-Finding Mission is where you look at other books you like in your genre and collect information.  You can also download my free illustrated Fact-Finding Mission Workbook here.

How a Fact-finding Mission Can Help

A Fact-Finding Mission can help you in getting useful book printing estimates by helping you:

  • Assess what others in your book’s genre are doing.
  • See what design and printing options you like. 
  • Understand text characteristics.
  • Get ideas on structure and design. 
  • Calculate a page count before your book is designed. 
  • Help in communicating with designers and printers.

With this information, you can set a realistic starting point for how many pages your book will be at your desired size. With the workbook, you can also get a basic understanding of the vocabulary of book printing.

To get a good print estimate, you need to envision what you want your book to be while considering your content. It helps to look at books you like in your genre to understand your choices. If you are printing on demand, you will have fewer options, but it is much more affordable when printing small quantities. See my Print on Demand vs. Offset article to understand the differences.  And for a fast easy way to decide wich option is better for you, download my Print on Demand vs. Offset Worksheet.

You may also want to consult your printer about what you want, and they may be able to suggest alternatives that will save you money. If you are printing offset, you may want to ask for 2 or 3 different quantities to see if the unit price per book drops after a certain quantity. With offset printing, the price per book usually goes down the more books you print. 

You can download my Printing Estimate Worksheets to organize your print specifications for gathering your printing quotes. If you want more help understanding these printing terms download my illustrated Fact-finding Mission Workbook.

Soft Cover

Book Printing Estimate Specifications

To get accurate soft-cover book printing estimates, your printer will need the following:

General specifications

  • quantity:
  • trim size:
  • page count:

Inside specifications

  • paper type:
  • paper weight:

Ink

  • [  ]  black & white
  • [  ]  color
  • [  ]  bleed

Cover specifications

  • paper type:
  • paper weight:

Other cover options

  • [  ]  gloss lamination
  • [  ]  matte lamination
  • [  ]  french flaps—specify flap size:

Decorative flysheet

  • [  ]  Front and back
  • [  ]  Front only
  • [  ]  Printed
  • [  ] Full-color process
  • [  ]  PMS mix
  • [  ]  Special paper—specify the paper name and weight:

Bindery

  • [  ]  perfect
  • [  ]  Smyth sewn
  • [  ]  layflat
  • [  ]  spiral
  • [  ]  saddle-stitched (stapled, no more than 48 pages)

Packing

  • [  ]  Shrinkwrap individually

Shipping

  • Destination  (FOB destination):
  • Shipping instructions:

Box Details

Since you will be storing the books, you may want to ask about the box size and weight.  The printer should have this information to calculate the shipping costs.

  • Size and weight:
  • The number of boxes:

Hard Cover

Book Printing Estimates Specifications

Not all on-demand printers offer hardcover or casebound printing, and if they do, specific sizes and options may not be available.  You may be required to tweak your preferences to work with the printer of your choice. Cloth hardcover materials and endpaper options vary from printer to printer. Foil stamping requires a die to be made, and the cost may go up depending on the size of the stamp. Offset printing will offer a wider variety of options. But if you plan on printing smaller quantities, a hardcover book will likely not be cost-effective.

General specifications:

  • quantity: 
  • trim size:
  • page count:

Inside specifications: 

  • paper type:
  • paper weight:

Ink:

  • [  ]  black & white 
  • [  ]  color
  • [  ]  bleed  

Cover specifications:

Case lamination

  • [  ]  Gloss lamination    
  • [  ]  Matte lamination
  • [  ]  Textured lamination     

Cloth hardcover

  • [  ]  Imitation leather
  • [  ]  Fabric    

Foil stamping

  • [  ]  Spine  
  • [  ]  Face 

Dust jacket

  • [  ]  Gloss lamination   
  • [  ]  Matte lamination

Other cover options

  • [  ]  gloss lamination  
  • [  ]  matte lamination  

End paper

  • [  ]  Printed
  • [  ]  Full color process
  • [  ]  PMS mix  
  • [  ]  Special paper—(specify):

Bindery

  • [  ]  perfect    
  • [  ]  smyth sewn    
  • [  ]  layflat  
  • [  ]  spiral  

Proofing

  • [  ]  Print  
  • [  ]  Digital    

Packing

  • [  ]  Shrink wrap     

Shipping

Destination (FOB destination):
Shipping instructions:

Box Details

Because you will need to store your books, you may also want to ask about the box size and weight.   The printer should have this information to calculate the shipping costs.

  • Size and weight:
  • The number of boxes:

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