A Book Production Checklist for Indie Authors

Are you ready to upload your book for sale to the online retailers? Got all your front and back matter, images, fonts, and ISBNs? Use this checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to create a quality book that competes with books produced in the traditional publishing houses. But first, here’s a quick… [Read More]

book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

Are you ready to upload your book for sale to the online retailers? Got all your front and back matter, images, fonts, and ISBNs? Use this checklist to make sure you’ve done everything you can to create a quality book that competes with books produced in the traditional publishing houses. But first, here’s a quick overview of the entire book production process. It begins with an unedited manuscript and ends with a check of the final proof before distribution.

√       Receipt of manuscript.book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

√       Editing! Editing! Editing! Then final proofreading.

√       Gather all of the images, logos, and fonts used in your book in both 300 and 72 dpi.

√       Assign ISBNs (plus an LCCN and a CIP block if you are marketing to libraries), to include on your copyright page.

√       Format a beautifully designed interior to export to distributors and retailers in PDF for print, a doc/docx file for Smashwords and KDP, or an EPUB for IngramSpark distribution.

√       Create an impactful book cover and export it to PDF for print and TIFF or JPG for the ebook.

√       Create carefully thought-out metadata—book description, author bio, and keywords. (See my metadata cheat sheet here.)

√       Upload to the online retailers like IngramSpark, Smashwords, and Amazon CreateSpace and KDP.

√       Examine the proof, whether electronically or in print. Making corrections. Repeat until perfect.

√       Hit the "Publish" button.

Okay. Now, on to the checklist of assets and tasks you need.

Book Interior

You can format your eBook and print book interiors yourself using a Book Design Template in Word and InDesign or hire it out to a pro. With templates the correct book size, margin width, header and footer placement, are all figured out for you. Change fonts and paragraph styles to make it all your own.

Front Matter

A book’s front matter can include any of the following material and should appear on odd or even (left-hand or right-hand, recto or verso) pages, as noted below. Use lower case Roman numerals for front matter.

√       First odd page—can optionally include advance praise for your book—quotes and testimonials. In some books, there are several pages of these but I find more than two excessive.

√       First odd page—half title—I like to give it the same type treatment as the book cover, even in the ebook version. Ask your book cover designer to provide this separately.

√       Next even page—Frontispiece—an illustration.

√       Next odd-page—Title page—includes the title and subtitle. Also include the author name, publisher name, and logo. As with the half title, it looks much more professional if page uses the same type treatment and artistic elements as the book cover.

√       Next even page—Copyright page—for the copyright, a list of ISBNs for the various formats (hardback, paperback, ebook), LCCN, CIP block, credits for design, production, and artwork.

√       Next odd page—Dedication

√       Next even page—Epigraph (quotation)

√       Next odd page—Table of Contents

√       If you have lists of tables and figures, these can go on the next even and odd pages. But consider moving these to the back pages of your ebook edition.

√       Next odd page—Acknowledgements, which can also be moved to the back pages of your ebook edition.book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

The next pages, optionally, are:

√       Introduction

√       Prologue

√       A second half-title if there is so much information in your front matter that your book needs a “break” before diving into the first chapter.

Body

Here begins pagination with the Arabic numeral 1.

√       Part—if your book is separated into parts that contain chapters.

√       Chapters

√       Epilogue

√       Afterword

Parts and chapters may begin wherever they fall but you might decide to begin parts and chapters consistently on odd or even pages.

Back Matter

Generally, back matter includes the following:

√       Appendix, addendum, chronology, notes, glossary, bibliography, list of contributors, index, errata, colophon.

√       About the author—an image and bio.

√       Acknowledgements

End headers and footers, including pagination, here and add any of the following, if relevant.

√       Invitation to review the book—with a link to a page on your website (and not to Amazon, because they will not distribute books with competing services listed).

√       Invitation to join your email list or connect on social media.

√       Also by…

√       Sample of an upcoming title.

√       Book club discussion questions.

Differences Between Print & eBooks

Make two folders on your computer for your final book after it has been completely edited and proofread—one for your eBook and one for print.

Front and Back Matter

In the eBook version, move important information like acknowledgments to the back. Ebooks automatically open at the body of the book (unless you’ve given your designer specific instructions to set the opening page in a certain place).

Image Quality

Images in print books must be 300 dpi in CMYK. Ebook images should be 72 dpi in RGB.book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

(CMYK is for print books, RGB is for eBooks)

Headers and Footers

Print books have headers and footers and eBooks do not. Headers usually include the author name (most often on the left/even side of the page and book or chapter title on the right/odd side of the page.

If you’re using a 2WAY template from Book Design Templates in Word, and uploading doc and docx files to KDP and Smashwords, you can use the same file and the headers and footers will be stripped out automatically.book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

(Book Design Templates 2WAY templates export to both print and eBook formats from the same file.)

In print books, placing headers or footers on blank pages or on the first page of a chapter or part is a rookie mistake. You might make an exception for page numbers on opening chapter pages if you have many short chapters and there’s a risk of your readers getting lost. (I place them on the bottom of the page.)

Book Covers

Here’s what you need for your eBook, paperback, and hardback book covers.

eBook Covers

Amazon KDP wants a JPEG or a TIFF  in RGB less than 50MB at 72 d08 with a height/width ratio of at least 8:5 (1.6).

Smashwords’ advice is to create an image of 1,500 to 1,800 pixels to satisfy Kindle’s requirements and all other retailers. The 1600 x 2560 pixel size will give you a 1.6 ratio and future-proof your cover if pixel requirements increase even further.book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com

(Cover image options)

Paperback Book Covers

All print book covers need a PDF with front, back, and spine. Create your cover in CMYK at 300 dpi. Use the IngramSpark or Amazon CreateSpace template for paperbacks.

book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com(IngramSpark’s Cover Template Generator)

Bar Codes, ISBNs, and Paper Color

IngramSpark gives you a free bar code with the template and you can use the template for your CreateSpace books, too. First, enter your 13-digit ISBN or 13 zeros, and choose your trim size and paper color. Generally, you want crème for immersive reading such as fiction and creative nonfiction because it’s easy on the eyes. White is generally used in nonfiction and color books. Insert the page count and choose your file type (InDesign or PDF). Include the price in the barcode. (You get a free barcode with the template, so don’t buy one elsewhere.) Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact page count or ISBN, yet. You can download another template or adjust the spine width later, using their weight and spine width calculator.

book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com
(Paperback book template with front and back cover, spine dimensions & free barcode)

Create the paperback cover in CYMK with 300 dpi images and export to PDF.

√       Front—title, subtitle, author name, and cover image.

√       Back—a short book description, maybe one testimonial, and a short author bio and image. Also a bar code.

√       Spine—title, author name, publishing house name, and logo.

Hardback Book Covers

Create the hardback cover in CYMK with 300 dpi images and export to PDF. Use IngramSpark template because Amazon CreateSpace does not do hardbacks.

√       Front—title, subtitle, author name, and cover image.

√       Back—testimonials.

√       Spine—title, author name, publishing house name, and logo.

√       Front flap—book description.

√       Back flap—author bio.

book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.com(Hardback book cover template with front/back cover, flaps, spine dimensions &  free barcode)

Sweat the Details: Book Production Resources

book production checklist by Carla King for BookWorks.comIt’s a big list, a little tedious and seems like a lot, but go look at some traditionally published books that are like yours—new ones, not pre-internet titles—and follow their example. Here is a list of sites, posts, free downloads, and books that will help you sweat the book production details.


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5 thoughts on “A Book Production Checklist for Indie Authors”

  1. What an excellent checklist! And extra tips to boot. Wonderful—shared to FB.

  2. Pat says:

    Helpful and precise.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Pat. We’re glad it helped!

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