1. 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 does their own distribution and marketing.

Proofing and Printing

2. How long does it take to get my book printed?

Once you have approved a printed proof, expect 2-3 weeks turnaround time for your print run, plus time for shipping. Full colour, large runs, and certain binding styles 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 September or October to have books in hand for Christmas.

3. 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 included in the print costs for your book. Additional proofs are $35 each, plus shipping and tax.

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

Yes, no problem. Bound and laminated soft cover proofs are $60, bound hard cover proofs are $100, plus shipping and tax.

5. How long does it take to get a printed proof from supplied PDFs?

You can expect a printed proof to be ready for shipping or pickup within 2-3 business days of First Choice Books receiving working files.

6. 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.

File Preparation for Print

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

Please send two print-ready PDFs, one for the cover (including front, back, and spine), and another for the book insides.

8. What does “print-ready PDF” mean?

“Print-ready” means we will print exactly what you send in the PDF (portable document file), 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.

Many programs can produce PDFs, including Microsoft Word. Please see pages 25+27 of our free self publishing guide for instructions.

9. How wide will 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 our spine width calculator.

10. 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 will create and place the barcode for your book.

Sending Files

11. How can I send you files?

Files smaller than 5 MB can be emailed directly to us. Large files over 5 MB can be sent using wetransfer.com or we can create a Drop box account for you, using dropbox.com. Both are free, web-based services for moving large files. More on how to send files.

Minimum Margins

12. 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”. For more on how to set up margins, see our free self publishing guide.

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

Please include a bleed allowance of .125” on all outside edges, if there are any items that bleed off the edge.

14. 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 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.


15. 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 $100. You can obtain one from www.isbn.org.

16. 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.

17. 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 5-10 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.

18. 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 hardcover 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).


19. How does copyright work for my book?

The rights to your work stay with you, the author. With First Choice Books, you can publish it elsewhere at any time, in any form. First Choice 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.

20. What about royalties?

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

21. Do I have to sign a contract?

Our contract with you is the quoted price for printing, binding, and any graphics work requested. There is no other contract to sign.

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 (eg quantity, page count, paper stock, etc), we will not proceed until you approve the new quoted price. We will issue a sales order for the payment of deposit, and a final invoice.

The Print Order

22. What is your minimum order?

The minimum order to print is 25 copies. Price breaks on quantity start around 100 books, and the best savings are on orders of 500 and over.

23. What is your maximum order?

We can print as many books as you need. Price breaks on quantity start around 100 books, and the best savings are on orders of 500 and over.

24. 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 us, and let us know how many books you would like to ship, and the postal code of where you want the books shipped to. We work with multiple carriers to get the best price for you.


25. Can I get an eBook version of my book?

Yes! If First Choice Books is doing the layout and design of the insides of your book, we can also create an eBook. EBook creation and set up of an Amazon account to sell the book is $250 for most books.

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. More about our eBook program.

26. What if First Choice Books did not do the design and layout?

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 them for an eBook. Layout charges would apply, at $70/hr. We cannot create eBooks from PDFs, sorry. More about our eBook program.

27. First Choice Books did the layout of my book previously. Can I get an eBook?

Yes! If First Choice Books did the layout and design of your book, we can produce an eBook for you. The regular rate is $250 for basic layout, complex layout estimate by request.

28. What can I read my eBook on?

Your eBook can be read on Amazon Kindle, the Nook, and Kobo. We can also produce eBooks ready for sale on Apple’s iBooks website.

29. 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.

30. 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. More about our eBook program.

31. 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.

32. What price should my eBook be set at?

The price of your eBook is up to you. The minimum price is $2.99, maximum 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.

Colour Printing

33. 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.

34. 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 minor limitations.

Editing Services

35. Can you translate my book?

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

36. 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/

37. 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.

38. 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 $30 charge for these, either by email or on a DVD. If you would like the layout files for the book, which will be in Adobe InDesign, we can supply these as well, for $100, on a DVD.

Cover Design

39. 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 do not take photographs or create illustrations, but there are thousands of amazing photographs and illustrations available from stock agencies. We recommend iStockphoto.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.

40. 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 $70-140, depending on complexity.

41. 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 quotation once you know how many pages will be in colour. Remember that both the front and back of a single page can be in colour, so it helps to keep the colour pages back to back (e.g. on an odd and then an even page).

42. Is it cheaper if I print my book using just one colour?

First Choice Books prints with digital printers, so if the book has any colour at all, it is considered a full colour book. Older presses that used ink (instead of toner) could do press runs adding just one colour but then the run would need to be large to be cost effective. Digital printing is either black only, or full colour.

43. 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.

44. 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.

45. Can I print on the insides of the cover?

Yes, First Choice Books can print on the insides of your cover. The print cost will be higher.

46. What is the largest book you can print and bind?

The largest book we can print and bind in house is 9” wide by 12” high. For larger sizes, please contact us.

47. 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”. For smaller sizes, please contact us.

48. What is your maximum page count?

The greatest number of pages we can bind is around 800-850, depending on thickness of the paper stock. Longer books may need to broken into multiple volumes.

49. 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.

50. 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.

Hard Cover

51. 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- or cloth-style binding in a range of over 40 colours. Your name and title of the book can be stamped on the book in either gold or silver foil.

52. Can my hardcover book have a dust jacket?

Yes. We can design a dust jacket for you, including flaps.

Technical Specifications

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

Yes, thanks for asking. 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.

54. 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 set up for print, but we only need the book as one-up pages. We’ll take care of any imposition here. All pages must be the same size and orientation.

55. 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.

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

We can convert them here for you, no worries. When the photos are converted to CMYK, 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. There is no charge for colour conversion.

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

Yes, we can convert images to black and white for you, no problem. How they look in black and white will depend on the images. If First Choice is doing the layout and design of the book for you, we can “tweak” the images so they look great in black and white.

58. 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.

59. 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.

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

The minimum page count for saddle stitch is 8 pages, and the maximum is 80, although we recommend perfect binding after 48 pages. As saddle-stitched books are printed in signatures of 4 pages, the final page count must be a multiple of 4. We will add blank pages to any book that comes in an odd number.

61. I would like to add a DVD at the back of my book. Can you do this?

Yes, we can insert a DVD into your book. Please send us the DVDs or CDs ready to go, along with plastic sleeves, and we will insert them into the book. Please send 4 extra discs and sleeves, as extras in case of damage. There is a small charge for insertion.

62. 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. We can also print them.

63. What commitment do you make to helping protect the environment?

First Choice Books’ paper stocks are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, and some 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.