Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs

Publishing and Printing with First Choice Books

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

These are our FAQs or frequently asked questions.

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is the publication of any book or other media by the author of the work, without the involvement of a traditional third-party publisher. The author assumes all financial risk for the publication, and owns the copyright. In self-publishing, the author is responsible and in control of the entire process including overseeing design (cover/book insides), price, and doing their own distribution and marketing.

How long does it take to get my book printed?

Once you have approved a printed proof, expect a 2-3 week turnaround time for your print run, plus time for shipping. Full colour, large runs, and certain binding styles like hard cover and smyth-sewing can take longer. If you have a specific date by which you need your books, please let us know: we can work with you meet your deadline. Our busiest season is before the winter holiday sales season — be sure to start early in August or September to have books in hand for the holidays.

How do I get started?

Once you have a quote for printing and binding your book, send us your files. You’ll either be sending us files for First Choice Books design and layout ($80/hour) or Print Ready PDFs.

Once we have received your files, we’ll assess them and let you know if they’re ready to print, or how much layout and design will cost. The we email you a sales order that lists all the projected costs, and ask for a 50% deposit. The remaining balance is due when the books are ready to ship.

How do I send you files?

Single files smaller than 5 MB can be emailed directly to graphics@first
choicebooks.ca. Large files over 5 MB can be sent using wetransfer.com or we can create a Dropbox folder for you, using dropbox.com. Both are free, web-based services for moving large files.

I’m doing the layout of the book and cover myself. What do I need to send?

Please send two print-ready PDFs, one for the cover (including front, back, and spine), and another for the book insides. See checklists for technical details and how to send files, in our Publishing Guide.

What is a PDF?

PDF (portable document file) is a file format that preserves all the formating and styles of the document so that it can be opened on different computers without using the software used to create it. It’s a like a digital photocopy. Many programs can produce PDFs, including Microsoft Word. Please see our Publishing Guide for more information.

What does “print-ready PDF” mean?

“Print-ready” means we will print exactly what you send in the PDF, with no modifications. You’ll want to make sure that the files have been carefully proofread, and that all the images are high resolution. The files must meet the technical specifications for minimum margins and sizes.

Can I see a printout (proof) of my book before I go to print?

Yes! We will send you a printed proof of your book before printing the press run. Proofs are printed on the same paper stocks as your final product, and are trimmed to size, but not bound or laminated. One printed, unbound proof is provided at no extra charge. Additional copies are $40 each, plus shipping and tax.

How long does it take to get a printed, unbound proof when I send Print Ready PDFs?

You can expect a printed proof to be ready for shipping or pickup within a week of First Choice Books receiving files that meet the required technical specifications.

Can I see a laminated, bound copy of my book before going to print, just to be sure?

Yes. Bound and laminated soft-cover proofs are $100, hardcover perfect bound proofs are $150, plus shipping and tax. Please contact us for bound, hardcover smyth-sewn proofs. Bound proofs will take 1-3 weeks to produce.

So, if the printed proof looks good, then what?

You will need to sign a proof approval form, included with your proof, and then we will print your book. Proof approval means you approve the book as it appears in the proof, and accept all responsibility for any errors found in the book, regardless of origin, after this point.

What if I have revisions to my book after the printed proof?

If First Choice Books did the layout and design of your book, please contact graphics@firstchoicebooks.ca to discuss sending revisions. Revisions are billable at $80/hour.

For Print Ready PDFs, please send a new PDF of the entire book and/or cover. We will print a new proof and ship it to you. There is a $50 charge for new file set up and the new printed proof, plus applicable taxes and shipping.

I have changes to make to my book, but I don’t want another printed proof. Can I do that?

Yes. First Choice Books strongly recommends that authors see a printed proof of the final version of their book, but you can waive the printed proof. Contact graphics@firstchoice
books.ca to ask for a proof waiver form. If the proof is waived, the author accepts all responsibility for any errors in the press run.

How wide should the spine of my book be?

Spine width depends on your final page count and choice of paper. To calculate your book’s spine width, use the calculator on our website. firstchoicebooks.ca/graphic-design-services/print-book/spine-width-calculator/

How much room should I leave for the bar code on the back cover?

The barcode goes in the lower right or left hand corner, measuring 1.75” wide x 1” high. First Choice Books can create and place the barcode for your book.

What are your minimum margins?

Text safety margins for print are a minimum of .5” for the outside margins, and .75” for the inside margin, next to the spine. Please note that trim sizes can vary by up to 1/8”.

I would like images to bleed off the edge of the page. What is your bleed allowance?

Perfect bound books = .125”
Saddle-stitch and coil bound = .25”
Hardcover covers = 1”

What is bleed allowance?

Any image that is to run off the edge of the page (bleed) needs to be printed with an extra .125” margin or more that extends past the edge of the page. This area is trimmed off when the book is bound. Without this extra margin, an image can end up with a small white line at the page’s edge, due to variations in trim during the binding process.

Can you get an ISBN for my book? How about the barcode?

Yes, we can assign an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for your book, and create the barcode for the back cover for you. Both are included in the quoted print cost at no additional charge. ISBNs are available free for Canadian authors and work worldwide. If you are American and require an American ISBN, they cost around US$100. You can obtain one from www.isbn.org.

I already have an ISBN for my book. Can you make a barcode for me?

Yes, we can create a barcode for you, using your ISBN. This service is included in the print quote for your books.

I want to list myself as my own publisher. Where can I get an ISBN?

In Canada, if you want to be your own publisher, you can apply for an ISBN for your book through the Canada Library and Archives. ISBNs take 10-14 business days to obtain, so allow time for this step when planning your book’s production. If you are American, and publishing your book from the US, ISBNs are available from the United States ISBN Agency, www.isbn.org, and cost US$100. ISBNs obtained in Canada for Canadian books work worldwide.

I published my book in a different language previously.
Can I use the same ISBN?

The new version of the book will need a new ISBN. Each distinct edition of a book (in different languages, or after revisions, or a different binding such as hard cover or soft cover) requires a different ISBN that uniquely identifies that edition. ISBNs are free in Canada, and we can assign one to your book. (eBooks also require their own ISBN).

How does it work with the copyright?

The rights to your work stay with you, the author. You can publish it elsewhere at any time, in any form. We will place a copyright legal notice in the book for you, listing you as the author, along with any other credits, such as for any illustrations and photographs used in the book.

What about royalties?

First Choice Books prints only for you, the author. You sell the books and keep all profits from sales. We do not administer book sales or royalties. You are free to work with another publisher or printer at any time, for any form of the book.

Do I have to sign a contract?

Our contract with you is the quoted price for printing, binding, and any graphics work requested. We will send a sales order listing all charges agreed upon. A 50% deposit is required before work begins, and the balance is due prior to shipping or upon pickup. If there are any additional charges, or changes in the quoted specifications (e.g. quantity, page count, paper stock, etc), we will not proceed until you approve the new quoted price. A final invoice will be generated when the books are ready to ship.

What is your minimum order?

Our minimum order to print is 25 copies. Price breaks on quantity start around 100 books, and the best savings are on orders of 250 and over.

How much will it cost to ship my books?

Shipping depends on the final size and weight of your book, the quantity, the destination, the shipping method and speed. For a shipping estimate, please contact quotes@firstchoicebooks.ca, let us know how many books, and the postal code of where you want the books shipped to. We work with multiple carriers to get the best price for you.

Can I get an eBook version of my book?

Yes! If First Choice Books did the layout and design of the insides of your book, we can also create an eBook. We will format your eBook so it looks just like your printed book, including a cover page that matches your cover, optimized for eBook readers. The base price for an eBook created from a First Choice Books layout is $295.

If I did my own design and layout, can you make it into an eBook?

Yes! First Choice Books can produce an eBook for you using your Microsoft Word or Adobe InDesign files. Send us the files and we’ll assess them for what it will cost to convert to an eBook. Graphics charges would apply, at $80/hr. We cannot create e­Books from PDFs.

My book has a lot of photos and illustrations. Can they be included?

Yes. Images can be inserted into e­Books, and be read on any recent eBook reader. Books that are entirely images, like a children’s illustrated book or a photography book, can be formatted for iBooks.

How is an eBook different from a PDF?

While PDFs are electronic versions of your book, they are meant predominantly for printing. All parts of the book file are set: the text and images cannot be changed in any way. EBooks, however, allow the readers to change the font size and overall look of the book on their eReaders. This means the text flows and reflows on the eReader device (Kindle, Kobo, iPad, etc), changing its look continuously with each “page”.

What can I read my eBook on?

Your eBook can be read on Amazon Kindle, the Nook, Kobo, iPhones and iPads.

Can my eBook be sold on Amazon?

Yes! First Choice can set up an Amazon account for you. Once set up, you monitor the sales.

Can my eBook be sold on other platforms?

Yes! We can set up your eBook for sale on Kobo ($40).

What royalty does Amazon take?

Amazon takes a 30% royalty on eBook sales. For example, if you sell an eBook for $10, Amazon takes $3, and you take $7. Amazon pays quarterly, and sales can take two months to post.

What price should my eBook be set at?

The price of your eBook is up to you. The minimum price is $2.99. To encourage sales, it is recommended to set the price as low as possible. You may make more money this way over time, instead of discouraging potential readers with a higher price.

Will the colour of my cover or in the book be exactly the same every time I order books?

First Choice Books keeps a copy of your proof or finished book on hand for colour matching each press run. Colour can vary slightly between press runs, but we will match as closely as possible, given the constraints of digital printing technology.

I’m concerned about having complete control over the exact colour reproduction of my book. Is digital printing the right option for my book?

If you are looking for clear, bright colours and lower print costs for smaller runs, then digital printing with First Choice is the best route for you. You may want to consider traditional offset printing for the greatest control over print quality for art or photo­graphy books. Digital printing can do a great job of colour reproduction, but there are some limitations.

Can you translate my book?

First Choice Books does not offer translation services at this time.

Can you edit my book?

When First Choice Books does the layout of the book for you, we do some minor copy editing, including fixing common errors with spacing and punctuation.

For higher levels of editing, on our website you will find referrals to excellent editors who can work with you to revise your manuscript. firstchoicebooks.ca/steps-to-self-publishing/editors/

Can you proofread my book?

First Choice Books does not offer proofreading at this time. You will want to look carefully at the printed proof of your book, and make changes from there. You may want to consider hiring a professional proofreader who can look at your book with fresh eyes, and catch errors that have been missed previously.

If you do the layout of the book and create the cover for me, can I have those files afterwards?

Yes. We can supply you with the high resolution, print quality PDFs that were used to print your book. There is a $50 charge for these. If you would like the layout files for the book, which will be in Adobe InDesign, we can supply these as well. Files will be sent via file transfer. ($150)

I have an idea for a picture for the front cover. Can you create it for me?

What we can create depends on what you would like for the cover. We cannot take photographs or create illustrations, but there are thousands of amazing photographs and illustrations available from stock agencies. We recommend iStockphoto.com and shutterstock.com, where you can browse by subject and style, and find just the right image. Let us know which image you would like to use, and we can download it and use it to build your cover. Prices vary by image and usage, but are usually around $25 each for a book cover.

I have a photograph or illustration that I’d like to use for my cover, but I don’t know how to design a cover. Can you do that for me?

Yes! We love designing covers. Send us the image (high resolution JPG or TIFF), whatever text you would like on the back (about the book, about the author, rave reviews), and the title of the book, and the author’s name exactly as it should appear, and we can take it from there. We’ll send you a sample layout of the cover by email first, then finalize the design based on your feedback, and mail you a printed proof. Cover design starts around $80-175, depending on complexity. Please see our Publishing Guide for more information.

I’d like to have colour in my book. Is this possible?

Absolutely. We can print pages of your book in colour, or even the whole book. Colour does increase the print cost of your book, so be sure to check with us about a quote for printing costs once you know how many pages will be in colour.

My photographs in the book are sepia coloured black and white. Is this a black and white book, or colour?

If you would like the photographs to look sepia-coloured in print, which is a warm, golden-yellow colour, then the book will need to be printed in full colour. Or the photographs can be converted to true black white, and printed in black ink only, which is more affordable than colour printing.

Will my cover be in colour?

Yes. All quotes for printed covers with First Choice Books are considered to be full colour. We can print in black only, but the print cost is not much different than full colour, and most readers will expect a colour cover to attract their eye.

My quote for printing says “1 side in colour”. Will the front and the back cover be in colour?

Yes. 1-sided printing refers to how covers are printed, so inside/outside, not front/back. Covers are printed on one sheet of paper. One side of that sheet will have all the parts of the cover on the outside of the book: front, back, and spine. If you are printing on the inside of the covers (visible only when the cover is opened), then that would be a 2-sided cover.

Can I print on the insides of the cover?

Yes, First Choice Books can print in colour or black only on the insides of your cover. The print cost will be higher. This is known as a 2-sided cover.

What is the largest book you can print and bind?

The largest book we can print and bind in house is 8.5” wide by 11” high. For larger sizes, please contact us.

What is the smallest book you can print and bind?

The smallest book we can bind in soft cover or hard cover is 4”x6”. We can saddle-stitch (staple binding) books as small as 4”x4”.

What is your maximum page count?

The greatest number of pages we can bind is around 750, depending on thickness of the paper stock. Longer books may need to broken into multiple volumes.

What is the minimum page count?

First Choice Books can perfect bind (glued spine) books over 20 pages. Saddle-stitch books (stapled spine) can be 8 pages or more.

I would like to have the name of my book on the spine. Will my book have a thick-enough spine to print on?

If your soft-cover perfect bound book is over 100 pages, we can print on the spine. Saddle-stitch books have no spine. Hard-cover books need to have a minimum spine width of .25”, so we can print on the spine of any hardcover book, even if it is under 100 pages.

Can I do a hardcover edition of my book?

Yes. First Choice Books has an in-house bindery that can produce beautiful library quality hardcover books. You can have either a printed cover to match the soft-cover edition, or choose a leather-style or fabric binding in a range of colours. Your name and title of the book can be stamped on the book in either gold or silver foil.

Can my hardcover book have a dust jacket?

Yes. We can design a dust jacket for you, including flaps. Please see our Publishing Guide for more information.

I would like to run some images across the gutter of my perfect bound book. Are there any special considerations for doing this?

Yes. Perfect bound books use a glued spine, and glue will not stick to printed parts of the pages, due to the toner used to print the book. All books with images that go into the spine should have a 1/8” white band on the inside edge of the page, to allow for gluing. This area will not be visible when the book is bound. This white band is not required for saddle-stitch or smyth-sewn books. Also make sure to offset the images outwards from the spine, by .25”.

I’m setting up my book for print with First Choice Books. Do I need to impose the book or send printer’s spreads?

Thanks for thinking about how the book is prepared for print, but please do not impose the book pages or send printer’s spreads. We need the book as one-up pages, where each page of the PDF is one page of the book, in normal order. We take care of any imposition here. All pages must be the same size and orientation.

What colour space and profile should my images be in?

Colour images (illustrations or photographs) for print should be in CMYK colour mode. We use the CMYK profile SWOP US v2, as it is a standard colour space.

I am printing colour photographs in my book, but they’re not CMYK. Does that matter?

We can print colour images in other colour modes, like RGB. Some of the colours may shift slightly, especially bright blues, greens and purples, as they cannot be reproduced in ink or toner exactly as you see them on screen.

I’m printing my book in black and white, but my photos are in colour. Can you convert them to black and white?

Yes. If you are sending Print Ready PDFs, we can convert the entire book or individual pages to black and white. We cannot convert individual images, unless we are also doing the layout and design.

Can you do coil binding?

Yes. We can do plastic coil binding, which allows the book to lay flat when open, and is great for cookbooks and manuals. Please ensure that the inside margin is at least .75”. Coil binding is available in black, white, or a variety of custom colours.

What is the maximum page count for coil bound books?

The greatest number of pages that can be coil bound is 400. Longer books will need to be broken into two or more volumes.

I’m doing a saddle-stitch book. How many pages can it have?

The minimum page count for saddle stitch is 8 pages, and we recommend perfect binding over 48 pages. Saddle-stitch books are printed in signatures of 4 pages, so the final page count must be a multiple of 4.

I’d like to add a fold-out map to my book. Can you do this?

Yes, we can add in extra materials to your book, including a map, as long as it is smaller than the page size when folded in.

What commitment do you make to helping protect the environment?

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified papers are available, and others contain 20-30% recycled content. We also recycle all of our waste products, including our old machinery, and are working closely with our paper suppliers and recyclers to further reduce waste and energy usage.