Writing a book is exciting, scary sometimes, and usually time-consuming. It typically involves multiple stages of writing and editing to finish. But all authors, regardless of the genre or style of a book they are crafting, have one step in common: book printing proofs. When the book’s content has been revised and the editing corrections have been made, authors are left with a final manuscript draft.
Before entering the printing stage, authors have the option to get book printing proofs before printing all copies. But knowing what to do during the proofing stage is key to finalizing a beautiful book. Let’s review what you need to know when your book hits the proofing step of publishing and how to know when your book is ready to be published.
What Are Book Printing Proofs?
All of the details that go into creating a book, in addition to writing the content, can be overwhelming. Authors have to deal with choosing the right margins for their format and binding style, selecting paper heft and coatings for the book’s covers and even the right shade of toner and ink to make the final copy look exactly how they envision.
But choosing those features and seeing how they play out on your manuscript are two different things. To help authors see how the final draft of their books will look, digital printers like Dazzle Printing provide book printing proofs to review before the presses are fired up. These book printing proofs are a complete copy of every page of your book, from the first to the last and will show exactly how it will look once it is printed.
This helps authors to see if any changes need to be made prior to printing the book. Book printing proofs can be either digital or printed and authors may choose either one for specific reasons.
A digital proof is a PDF copy of a book prepared for an author to view prior to printing a physical copy of the book. This online file usually comes in two parts: one file for the book’s contents and one file for the covers and spine if there is one.
These digital proofs may not be the exact size of the final printed book although in some cases they may be exact, depending on the online printer. When an author receives these digital proofs, they have the perfect opportunity to make changes or catch errors or problems before the book is printed as a hard copy.
When to Use a Digital Proof
There are three main reasons why authors should request digital or online proofs for their books. (Please note that Dazzle Printing always provides digital book printing proofs, even if you request hard copy book printing proofs.)
1 Digital proofs can be made quickly. If time is of the essence, authors can request digital proofs for their books. Turning a book manuscript into a PDF file is relatively speedy and many online printers can complete this task in a day or so. These proofs are returned to authors via email making the delivery rapid as well.
2 Content changes are easier to track with digital proofs. No matter how many times you may have reviewed the final manuscript, it is possible that you may still find an errant comma, spelling error, or even material in the proof draft that just doesn’t look the way it should. Reviewing a proof online for changes made to the proof is easier for an author to do, so many authors request digital proofs for this reason.
3 Digital proofs cost less than printed proofs. Since labor and time are the only costs that go into creating digital book printing proofs, the associated costs are much lower than printed proofs. For self-publishing authors, keeping costs down is usually a priority before book sales begin so online proofs are a great way to do this. (Please note that Dazzle Printing never charges for digital book printing proofs.)
Sometimes a physical copy of the book is the best way to see how the development decisions come to life. In this case, a book printing proofs are produced for an author to see before they commit to printing a full run of their book.
Printed book printing proofs of the book are printed, bound, and trimmed so it looks exactly like the finished books will look. The same weight of paper is used as the final copy of the book and covers will be laminated if ordered.
The ink and coloration of the photographs or graphics should all appear exactly as they will during the actual printing run as the digital copy does, but authors can see the exact size of the book as well as feel the weight of the paper of the final book in printed book printing proofs.
Of course, a printed proof arrives in the mail rather than via email, so preparing printed book printing proofs takes longer than a digital proof and costs are typically incurred for a single copy printed proof.
When to Use Printed Book Printing Proofs
Printed proof copies of a book are important in situations where authors need to have a close look at their final drafts and when authors have less experience in self-publishing a book.
1 Use printed proofs for color-critical books. While digital proofs can present colors accurately, there is always the possibility that way you view the colors on your own computer may skew the way the colors look.
So requesting a printed copy of your book’s proof will ensure that you see exactly what the photographs, graphics, and other colored ink sections of your book will look like in final form. This is especially critical in art books, photography books, or other genres that rely heavily on visuals.
2 New authors will want printed proofs. Authors that are new to self-publishing will benefit from receiving a printed proof of their book. With so many decisions to be made during the book creation process, new authors may be surprised by how some of their design choices actually look.
From margins to spacing to page numbers, many aspects of book drafts may appear differently than an author intended once the book is printed. So having a real copy of the book to look at prior to committing to the printing process is a great idea for new authors.
3 If you haven’t published a book in a while, request printed proofs. Similar to new authors, writers who haven’t self-published a book recently can also benefit from printed proofs. If you are reprinting a previously published book, authors may notice a shift in how colors look today with continual improvements that happen with the digital printing processes. Having a printed proof to look at ensures that the newest copy of a book looks the way you want it to.
And authors who are experienced but haven’t published in a while can also double-check a final draft of their book more easily since they will have their own previously printed books to compare the proofs with before signing off on the final draft. The unique advantage of knowing what you did (or didn’t like) about previously published books will assist authors in finalizing their newest publication’s proofs.
How Do I Know When My Book Is Ready for Publication?
Proofs are the perfect time to make any change, big or small, that needs to be done. Authors can and should use this time to adjust any parts of their book that do not look right or to fix errors or problems with alignment or spacing.
Ask for Feedback
When you are self-publishing a book, it is always a good idea to have another set of eyes or two look over your digital or printed proof copy, since a pair of “fresh eyes” sometimes can catch errors or small details that you might have missed.
Feedback from others or even a professional editor can also help you see the book as potential readers might, too, providing another opportunity to make the book look great when it is published. But in the end, as the author and creator of the book, you have the final say in what needs to be changed and what stays the way it looks in the proof.
Moving from Book Printing Proofs to Print
Once your proof is exactly the way you want your final book to appear, it’s time to send it off for publication with your printing company. Decide how many copies you want to order and be prepared to hit the ground running with your marketing plan if you are going to sell your book or decide how you are going to distribute the books if not.
In just a short while, the final printed copies of your book will arrive and you will be able to see firsthand how all of your hard work from dreaming up your concept to the proofing process has turned into a beautifully bound book with your name as the author.
At Dazzle Printing, when ordering your book, you can quickly and easily order a hard copy proof by selecting Press Proof under Production Details in our pricing calculators. We charge $60 for a press proof sent via UPS ground service and $100 for a press proof sent via UPS overnight service.