Book Manufacturing

Written by Christopher Ransom
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Book manufacturing entails a lot more than finding a printer to turn your manuscript into a stack of pages covered by a fancy dust jacket. Indeed, a closer look at what goes inside a book is essential to making sure you, the author or publisher of your book, do your part to manufacture the best book you can. Another way to look at it is, a book can be manufactured, but art cannot.

If book manufacturing is the process for putting all the pieces together to create a whole book, then manufacturing a complete book entails making sure all of the pieces are in place. We've already covered dust jackets, binding types, and trim sizes; now we'll take an inventory of some of the smaller details that make a book a book.

The Finer Details of Book Manufacturing

Before purchasing a book, and remember I am a full-blown book lover if not an all out connoisseur, I don't just whip the thing open and start reading. I look for the smaller details, the things that say to me this book is special. Attention to cover art, perhaps a double meaning in the graphics, is always a good place to start. Books featuring a label that say "National Book Award Finalist" or even just "Local Author" or "Autographed Copy" always grab my eye. A critic's blurb, even from a friend or expert in the field you may have consulted with before writing the book, are always a good thing to include on the cover or back of your book. A blurb, by the way, is an endorsement fro a reader that usually goes something like this: "The History of the Ransom Family is the most profoundly stirring memoir since Frank McCourt's heart-wrenching Angelas's Ashes."

Another trade secret you can incorporate into your book manufacturing has to do with first editions. Even casual collectors prefer a first edition to one that has been printed more than once. Whether you are publishing a hardback or paperback, if the book is taken out of your first print run stock, you can easily add to the copyright page "First Edition". Author photos are generally good for business too-they give the reader a sense of who you are, and that's always a good thing even if you aren't exactly photogenic or famous. Looking back at Stephen King's early author photos on the dust jackets of his books, before he was a known author, I can't help but remember thinking, this guy looks scary enough to write a scary book! Inscriptions, dedications, your own publishing company name (even if it's made up), and creative chapter headings are all fair game when manufacturing your own book. So go ahead, add whatever details you like. Just try to keep them honest and visible.


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