Trim Size and White vs. Cream Paper

I’m going to archive this blog post. It’s three years old, and CreateSpace no longer exists. I didn’t have as much knowledge about publishing as I do now, and while this blog post does have some information in it, please be advised that I know more now. Thanks for reading, and if you have questions, let me know! I’ll be glad to help! 9/15/19 VR

We’re finally ready for the fun part. These are the parts you’ve waiting for. Your manuscript has been edited within an inch of its life, you decided what you’re going to do with your imprint and ISBN. You have your author picture done, written your author bio, your blurb, your copyright page, your acknowledgments, your dedication. There is absolutely nothing left you have to do except to publish the darn thing. Yay! And I know you wanna jump right into . . . TRIM SIZE. You expected me to say cover, didn’t you? I’m sorry. Designing the cover is the most fabulous part of this whole this whole process, besides writing the thing, I know, trust me, I know. But the cover dimensions are contingent on the size of your book. That is why we will do trim size first. I made the mistake of doing my cover before trim and formatting, not realizing you need to know how thick your book is going to be before you design the spine. I’ll save you a few hours of hassle. Go ahead and look for the picture you want to use, dream it up in your head while you’re trying to go to sleep, but let’s save it for last. You’ll thank me later.

My blog posts usually contain one disclaimer, and now it’s time for this one. This publishing series I’m writing contains bare bones facts. It’s for the people who just want to publish as quickly and as simply as possible. Chances are if you know what you’re doing, experienced in Word, Photoshop, InDesign, Gimp, whatever else, you’re not reading this. (Or you are, and you’re just supporting me, thank you!)

Trim size is actually really fun, and don’t pass it off as a non-decision. Books come in all different sizes, and CreateSpace allows you to choose different sizes based on the color of paper you want. If you are choosing cream paper, you are limited to four sizes: 5×8, 5.25×8, 5.5×8.5, or 6×9. These are all in inches. This information right here made me think. I wrote a romance and I wanted it smaller. I frequently talk to @JewelELeonard and we were discussing trim size. I said I wanted my book to be “smut size.” Of course, there’s no such thing, but I read a lot of romances, chick lit, and they all are the same size, 4×6 printed on cream. Here are four different books, printed by four different imprints and they are all the same size.

IMG_5390  IMG_5391IMG_5392

My book is under Money, Honey, and you can see that it is bigger than the traditionally published romance. I was very adamant that I wanted cream paper, so I chose the smallest size CreateSpace had to offer.

But, as you look at trim, the term Expanded Distribution keeps popping up, and you’ll even see this warning if you choose a trim that disqualifies you from the program:

edp warning

I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t research what that meant. If you’re interested in learning what the Expanded Distribution program is, you can click here. I enrolled in it, but you’ll have to make that decision for yourself.

Here is the reason why CreateSpace doesn’t usually print smaller. I found this on a CreateSpace community board:

smut size

You don’t have to be as stubborn as me; choose any size book you want on the paper you want. Indie authors seem to like the various sizes so you won’t be alone when you finally decide on yours. There wasn’t a specific reason I chose cream paper. I do think it’s easier on the eyes, and I rarely come across any traditionally published books printed on white. I have seen some printed on greige, a mix of grey and beige, but CS doesn’t give you that option. Anyway, there is one thing you should keep in mind while deciding on trim. A smaller book is thicker. That might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s something to consider if you were thinking bigger. If you’re paperbacking a novella, for example, a smaller size would create more pages. You also need to keep in mind that if your book is too thin, your spine will not be able to support text. I can’t guarantee that making your novella smaller will give your spine sufficient width for text, but it is something to think about if you were going with the “bigger is better” concept.

When you are inside CreateSpace this is the the first screen you’ll see when it’s time to choose trim size and paper color.

createspace interior

Don’t choose full color (unless you’re printing a coffee table book or a graphic novel) even if you want your author pic to be printed in color. CreateSpace charges you more to print color no matter how many pages are printed in color. My author picture is in black and white, and it looks fine:


Here are other trim sizes if you choose white paper. As you can see, your choices go up:

trim sizetrim size 2

The CreateSpace community has several boards and you can find an answer to any question you have. Don’t be shy about Googling your question. There are thousands of indie books out there, and just as many authors who all had the same questions you do going in.

I was going to go into templates to format your manuscript, but I will stop here for now. Using a CreateSpace template is fast and easy if you don’t know how or don’t want to mess around with headers and footers. I’ll go into that next time. For now, take a walk around Barnes and Noble or a bookstore near you, and look at the books, get a feel for what size your genre is typically published in. Oh, and don’t buy too many books while you’re there!

Until next time!

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