Size Matters–When It Comes To Self-Publishing Your Book Which Trim Size Should You Choose?

So, you are going to self-publish your book. Have you thought about what trim size you are going to choose? Does it even matter? Of course the answer is yes and you could be limited by the service you choose, such as KDP, on what trim sizes you can print in. when looking for the perfect book size there are a few rules you need to know that will help you decide which direction to go. I have published four books through Amazon and have always chosen a 6 x 9 trim size, however, for my first novel I believe I am going to go with a more traditional 5 ½” x 8 ½” trim size simply because I think this will give the reader a better feel for the story and also give them the that intimacy that comes with novels of this size. Which size will you choose? The articles below will walk you through the details of deciding. There is also an article on which font to use when self-publishing—this can be a very crucial decision in your publishing process. So, let’s get started with a video on trim sizes and why they matter😊


Self-Publishing Basics: How to Pick the Size of your Book

by Joel Friedlander


As soon as you get serious about self-publishing a book, you are confronted with the choice of what size your book ought to be.

For instance, if you want to get a price on how much a book will cost to print, the first thing you need to know is the size.

Some pricing on digital books is in a range of sizes rather than having a different price for every different size, but that only helps a bit.

If you plan to print offset, you’ll need to specify the exact size in your request for an estimate. So one way or the other, it’s good to figure out near the beginning of your planning.

That’s not to say you can’t change your mind along the way. You won’t be locked into anything at this stage, so as long as you’re close to what the final size will be, the figures you’ll be working with should also be close enough until later in your production process.

Traditional Trim Sizes

Book sizes are known in printing terms as trim sizes since that’s where the book is trimmed at the last stage of production.

There are very few “rules” about book sizes, but there are a number of conventions that are good to know about. (All sizes quoted in this article are width x height.)

  • The only real rule is that mass market books have to be 4-1/4″ x 7″. These books are often sold through racks at point of purchase sites in supermarkets, airports, drugstores and the like and their size is an essential part of the way they are distributed. These are not usually self-published books, so you probably won’t have to worry about considering this size.
  • Trade paperbacks, a pretty loose category of books, are often in the 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ to 6″ x 9″ range. This page proportion—for instance in the 6″ x 9″ size—of 2:3 has long been considered an ideal for a book page, and you can create good looking books at different sizes but in the same page proportions. Most self-published books are trade paperbacks.
  • Manuals and workbooks are larger and, depending on the printing equipment being used to produce them, are in the 8″ x 10″ to 8-1/2″ x 11″ range. This size is also good for directories and instructional books with lots of graphics or detailed drawings to follow. It lends itself to a 2-column text layout which is an efficient use of space.
  • Novels appear in lots of different sizes but for a shorter book I prefer smaller sizes that seem to be more intimate a reading experience. 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ is probably the most popular size, but 5-1/4″ x 8″ is also a charming size for these books. Memoirs are similar sizes. Longer novels move to 6″ x 9″ to avoid becoming overly bulky at smaller sizes.
  • Short story collections or collections of essays are generally the same size as novels and memoirs
  • General nonfiction titles seem to come out in 6″ x 9″ making this size arguably the most popular of all. It’s also the most widely used size for hardcover books. When more room is needed on the page, for instance for sidebars or pull quotes, 7″ x 10″ is a frequent solution.
  • Photography or art books don’t conform to any particular size. They can be very small, or big and heavy “coffee-table” books. Many artists and photographers prefer books that are square or nearly square. This allows both horizontal and vertical pictures to have about the same amount of white space on the page.

Production Decisions and Trim Sizes

The decision you make on how to print your book will also affect your choice of trim sizes. Generally speaking, due to the highly automated nature of digital printing (used in print on demand distribution) you will have fewer choices of sizes.

For instance, here is the entire list of trim sizes offered by Lightning Source, the largest supplier of print on demand production:

4.37 x 7 inches (178 x 111mm)
4.72 x 7.48 inches (190 x 120mm)
5×7 inches (178 x 127mm)
5 x 8 inches (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81 inches (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8 inches (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27 inches (210 x 148mm)
6 x 9 inches (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21 inches (234 x 156mm)
6.625 x 10.25 inches (260 x 168mm)
6.69 x 9.61 inches (244 x 170mm)
7.44 x 9.69 inches (246 x 189mm)
7.50 x 9.25 inches (235 x 191mm)
7 x 10 inches (254 x 178mm)
8 x 8 inches (203 x 203mm)
8 x 10 inches (254 x 203mm)
8 x 10.88 inches (276 x 203mm)
8.25 x 11 inches (280 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693 inches (A4) (297 x 210mm)
8.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 216mm)
8.5 x 9 inches (229 x 216mm)
8.5 x 11 inches (280 x 216mm)

CreateSpace, the Amazon print on demand supplier, has a similar list, but offers nothing over 8.25″:

5 x 8 inches, 12.7 x 20.32 centimeters
5.06 x 7.81 inches, 12.9 x 19.8 centimeters
5.25 x 8 inches, 13.335 x 20.32 centimeters
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 13.97 x 21.59 centimeters
6 x 9 inches, 15.24 x 22.86 centimeters
6.14 x 9.21 inches, 15.6 x 23.4 centimeters
6.69 x 9.61 inches, 17 x 24.4 centimeters
7 x 10 inches, 17.78 x 25.4 centimeters
7.44 x 9.69 inches, 18.9 x 24.6 centimeters
7.5 x 9.25 inches, 19.1 x 23.5 centimeters
8 x 10 inches, 20.32 x 25.4 centimeters
8.25 x 6 inches, 20.955 x 15.24 centimeters
8.25 x 8.25 inches, 20.955 x 20.955 centimeters
8.5 x 11 inches, 21.59 x 27.94 centimeters
8.5 x 8.5 inches, 21.59 x 21.59 centimeters

You’ll notice many of these sizes are identical to the Lightning Source sizes. Many are considered “industry standards.”

At more specialized digital printers, the choices may be even more limited. For instance, at the color book specialist, you have a choice of only 5 sizes for color books:

5 x 8 in., 13 x 20 cm
6 x 9 in., 15 x 23 cm
7 x 7 in., 18 x 18 cm
8 x 10 in., 20 x 25 cm
10 x 8 in., 25 x 20 cm
13 x 11 in., 33 x 28 cm
12 x 12 in., 30 x 30 cm

These are all larger sizes, intended for full-color books.

Other considerations may further limit your choices. I often recommend a creme-colored paper for novels and memoirs, and even some self-help and nonfiction books. I find it easier to read for long stretches and with less glare than the pure white papers.

However, both Lightning Source and CreateSpace limit which trim sizes are available with creme paper. For instance, at CreateSpace only the 5.25″ x 8″, 5.5″ x 8.5″, or 6″ x 9″ are available, all other sizes print with white paper only.

Offset Printing

Offset printing has few of the restrictions imposed by the digital book printers. Although it’s handy to stay with the traditional sizes, you can print your book any size you like. Some sizes may make more efficient use of paper and consequently be more economical, but it’s possible to do almost any size. I have a book on press right now that’s 9.5″ x 11.5″, an impossibility for digital printers at the moment.

Offset book printers will also make the full range of paper stocks from many paper mills available to just about any size book. Printing papers vary widely and you can choose different weights, colors, textures and finishes if you like. There really are very few limitations other than your creativity and your budget.

Picking a Size for Your Book

Most of the books I see from self-publishers are either 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ or 6″ x 9.” They are good, readable sizes that will work for many types of books. If this is your first book and it falls into the categories I’ve listed above, there’s a good chance one of these two sizes will work for you.

Pick a different size if:

  • your book is clearly in a different category, like a workbook
  • if you have a functional reason you need a larger or smaller book, like for a gift book or an atlas
  • if you want to stand out in your niche by having a different size than everyone else.

However, be wary of larger sizes, over 6″ x 9″ or 7″ x 10″. Why? Many book shelves—including the shelves in some bookstores—won’t easily handle books bigger than that. Unless you’re producing an art book, you probably don’t want to end up with a book that won’t fit anyone’s bookshelves.

Takeaway: Consider the genre of your book, the printing method you plan to use, and your paper choices before deciding on a trim size for your book. If possible, pick an “industry standard” size.


Original Article:



Book Sizes: Selecting The Right One For Your Book


One of the decisions you have as an independent publisher, taking the ‘real self publishing’ path is what book size you’ll have.

The size of the book is referred to as the ‘trim size’. It’s called this because that’s the actual size of the book once it has been trimmed bound at the printer.

It’s important to decide on a suitable trim size earlier on in your book production as it’s required to determine such things as; the cost to print and ship it and how many pages it might have. This helps determine the thickness of your book and the potential perceived value to the customer when pricing.

There are a number of conventions that are worth keeping in mind when selecting your trim size. These aren’t “hard-and-fast-rules”, but a guideline to what is considered standard practice.

Below are some reference tables for helping you in deciding a trim size.
Section A: Is the most common, industry standard trim sizes used and the available paper types for each.
Section B: Is the list of trim sizes available by Ingram/Lightning Source the largest of all print on demand companies, and Amazon’s Createspace which has a similar list.

Section A

Most common, industry standard book/trim sizes and available paper types

Book type: trade paperbacks

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
This is the most common of self published books. Used widely between fiction and nonfiction books.

Book type: novels

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
These come in a wide variety of sizes. For a shorter book a smaller size can increase the thickness and the perceived value of the book. Longer novels can benefit from the 6” x 9” size, so it’s easier to handle.

Book type: general nonfiction

Trim size (Book size): 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”, 5.83″x 8.27″/A5, 6”x 9”
Paper type available: crème or white
The most popular size today is 6”x 9”, for both paperbacks and hardcovers. The extra room allows room for more complex layout requirements such as tables, pull quotes, lists and diagrams.

Book type: short story anthologies & novellas

Trim size (Book size): 5.25”x 8”, 5”x 8”, 5.5”x 8.5”
Paper type available: crème or white
Sizing remains quite varied. Today it’s becoming more common and cost effective to publish novellas as eBooks.

Book type: children’s picture books

Trim size (Book size): 7”x 10”, 8”x 10”, 8.5″x 8.5″
Paper type available: white
These are the most common sizes for picture books. The sizing largely depends on the unique layout of the illustrations.

Book type: art books and workbooks

Trim size (Book size): 8”x 10”, 8.5”x 11”, 9”x 10”
Paper type available: white
Sizing varies extensively with this group of books. The sizing allows for complex layout such as multiple columns and diagrams. The larger sizes are used for books that showcase portfolios such as photography and general coffee table books.

Section B

Ingram/Lightning Source and Createspace trim size availability

Ingram/Lightning Source

5 x 8 inches (203 x 127mm)
5.06 x 7.81 inches (198 x 129mm)
5.25 x 8 inches (203 x 133mm)
5.5 x 8.5 inches (216 x 140mm)
5.83 x 8.27 inches (210 x 148mm)
6 x 9 inches (229 x 152mm)
6.14 x 9.21 inches (234 x 156mm)
6.69 x 9.61 inches (244 x 170mm)
7.44 x 9.69 inches (246 x 189mm)
7.5 x 9.25 inches (235 x 191mm)
7 x 10 inches (254 x 178mm)
8 x 10 inches (254 x 203mm)
8.25 x 11 inches (280 x 210mm)
8.268 x 11.693 inches (A4) (297 x 210mm)
8.5 x 11 inches (280 x 216mm)


5 x 8 inches (12.7 x 20.32cm)
5.06 x 7.81 inches (12.9 x 19.8cm)
5.25 x 8 inches (13.335 x 20.32cm)
5.5 x 8.5 inches (13.97 x 21.59cm)
6 x 9 inches (15.24 x 22.86cm)
6.14 x 9.21 inches (15.6 x 23.4cm)
6.69 x 9.61 inches (17 x 24.4cm)
7.44 x 9.69 inches (18.9 x 24.6cm)
7.5 x 9.25 inches (19.1 x 23.5cm)
7 x 10 inches (17.78 x 25.4cm)
8 x 10 inches (20.32 x 25.4cm)
8.25 x 6 inches (20.955 x 15.24cm)
8.25 x 8.25 inches (20.955 x 20.955cm)
8.5 x 8.5 inches (21.59 x 21.59cm)
8.5 x 11 inches (21.59 x 27.94cm)

Additionally, there is also what’s known as mass market paperbacks which commonly fall between 4”x 7” to 4.25”x 7”. These aren’t usually published by independent authors and publishers, as they are sold via supermarkets and corner stores and used by trade publishers to release long running, top selling books at reduced prices of your typical trade paperback.

My preference for the average 40-60k word novel is 5.5”x 8.5”. It’s a nice balance between it fitting nicely in your hands and readability of the text size.

Paper types

Along with selecting your trim size, you’ll also select your paper type. You have the choice between crème and white paper. The former is recommended for novels, memoirs, short story anthologies and novellas. Some nonfiction personal development books have also used crème. The main reason for this, is because it’s easier on the eyes when reading for extended periods.

White paper is selected for many nonfiction books, children’s picture books and image heavy books. This is so the image colour looks its best and helps them pop off the page.

Both Createspace and Ingram/Lightning Source have a limit on which trim sizes are available with crème paper, this is to be in line with industry standards across the board with all distributors and retailers. Trim sizes of 5”x 8”, 5.25”x 8”, 5.5”x 8” or 6”x 9″ are only available in crème when looking to use expanded distribution.

Which trim size should you choose?

Most independent authors and publishers use either 5.5”x 8.5” or 6”x 9” for their novels or nonfiction books. These are good, reliable trim sizes that present a good reading experience for both non-fiction and novels. From these two sizes, it really comes down to personal preference as the manufacturing costs and time is virtually the same for each.

When looking to make your final decision for the size of your book, just keep in mind which paper colour you want to use, your genre and run with an industry standard where possible as it’ll allow you to change printers with very little alterations (if any) to your book files.

Just refer to section A above, which has narrowed down the best options for you which should make it easier helping you decide.


Original Article:



Picking Fonts for Your Self-Published Book

by Joel Friedlander



One of the first and most basic questions you need to answer if you’re going to be creating your own book design is: What fonts should I use?

Since the beginning of the so-called desktop publishing era in the 1980s which was boosted by computers’ new ability to show accurate graphics in “what you see is what you get” displays, millions of computer users have become familiar with fonts.

Ever since, computers have come bundled with fonts. This single fact is responsible for the overwhelming popularity of both Times New Roman and Arial, and that has had mixed blessings for creators and consumers alike.

Since the “default” font is usually set to Times New Roman or Arial, these fonts have spread far and wide, whether they were appropriate for the jobs they were asked to do, or not.

The Problem with Defaults

Computer engineers can be forgiven for putting these fonts in a premium position. After all, they wanted to make sure even a user who had no knowledge of or interest in fonts would still get a good, or at least an acceptable, result.

But there are problems with that approach, too. Times New Roman, for instance, is a font originally designed under the supervision of Stanley Morrison in 1931 for use in the Times of London newspaper.

Its efficient set width and other internal properties of the design were intended to be readable in the narrow columns of a newspaper, not in the more ample environment of a book.

Arial is a copy of Helvetica, probably the most popular font in the recent history of typography (and the only typeface I know of to have an entire feature film made about it) is wonderful for many uses. But it’s not really intended for readers in the United States, who are unused to seeing entire books set in sans serif fonts.

Better Solutions for Your Font Needs

Luckily, as computers have become more powerful and users more sophisticated about typography (the art of designing with type) there has also been an explosion of new fonts from lots of new designers.

So it might surprise you to find out that by far the best fonts for use in books are the oldest.

Or, if not the oldest, the fonts based on the oldest designs for fonts, those that originated in the very beginning of book printing in the late 15th century.

In fact, probably the best fonts for book design are from a family of type designs we call “oldstyle” so that will give you some idea what I’m talking about.

Recognizing Oldstyle Fonts

These fonts were based on the writing of calligraphers, the scribes who, before the invention of printing, were responsible for making copies of books by writing them out.

Oldstyle fonts have characteristics that show that origin, and which make them ideal for book composition. (For a more complete discussion, check this link to oldstyle fonts.)

There are three identifying characteristics to oldstyle fonts:

  1. Tilted axisIf you look closely at a round letter like an “O” or “C” you’ll notice there are thicker strokes and thinner ones. In oldstyle fonts, the axis of these letters is tilted, so that if you draw a line through the thinnest parts, it will be slightly off-center. This imitates the way the scribes would naturally write with a square-tipped pen.
  2. Moderate stroke variationLook again and you’ll see that the thin and thick strokes, although noticeably different, do not vary all that much. In other words, the thick strokes are thick, but not hugely so. This is also due to the way a square-tipped pen creates a varying stroke as you create each character.
  3. Rounded or bracketed serifsSerifs are the little bits of strokes like the “legs” on an “i” or the ending strokes on letters that look strictly decorative. These serifs are also due to the scribes, and the way their pens would leave a tiny flourish when they finished a stroke. Serifs help letters stick together as words, and that helps readability quite a bit.

Fonts That Work in Books

Okay, so now you know how to recognize oldstyle fonts, how is that going to help you? Let’s take a look at some of my favorite fonts for interior book design, and you’ll see.

  • GaramondThere are many versions of typefaces known as Garamond, and this is one of the most popular families of fonts for use in books. A classic oldstyle font, Garamond is named for Claude Garamond, a publisher in 16th century France, and has given rise to many other similar typefaces like the also useful Sabon.
  • CaslonThis font originated with William Cason, one of England’s first printers and has been popular ever since. Caslon is one of the most widely-used typefaces for text and works very well in books.
  • MinionA modern invention, Minion was designed by Robert Slimbach for Adobe Systems and has gone on to become one of the favorite fonts for book designers due to its regular color, interesting letterforms and the variety of weights and styles available.
  • Janson TextAnother Adobe font, Janson is based on a typeface created in the Netherlands in the 17th century, and our recent version was created by famed type designer Hermann Zapf in the 1950s.
  • PalatinoFor a long time Palatino was the most popular oldstyle font of all, because it was included in the base set of fonts shipped with every new Macintosh, the original desktop publishing platform. Although it’s a beautiful font with some idiosyncrasies that designer Hermann Zapf included, I no longer use Palatino for books, exactly because it has been so over-exposed. But you might love it, so give it a try.

Putting it Together

Although these fonts have a lot in common, they will create books that look subtly different.

The best way to find out how your book will look and feel is to set some sample pages in each one. While you might have trouble telling the difference between a Caslon “e” and a Minion “e”, when you see a whole page with thousands of characters on it, they will look noticeably different.

I don’t think any one of these oldstyle fonts is more appropriate than the others for specific types of books. Much more depends on your skill as a designer, and the tools you’re using to create your book design.

Typesetting with a word processor is never going to give you the smooth color, sophisticated hyphenation, and fine control over your type that you can get with a professional-level program.

But by picking the right typeface at the beginning, you’ll ensure that your book can be readable and conform to long-standing book publishing practices.

And that’s no small thing.


Original Article:



Write Fearlessly

About G.Edward Smith

A stranger in a strange land...
This entry was posted in Thoughts and Observations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.