Day 15: The 30-Day Book Launch Challenge

What is the Ideal Book Size for the Print Format of your Book?

DAY 15. Week Four: Mon. 11 Dec. to Fri 15 Dec.

No writing today – too busy having fun at the Christmas lunch party of my local chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association here in the UK.

There is one thing I do need to work on.

Publishing. Deciding on the Ideal Book Size for the Print Format of this Book

Publishers and printers prefer standard book sizes for different kinds of books. They refer to these as “trim sizes” – a throwback to the days when rough pages were trimmed after binding. The dimensions tend to be in inches for US publisher standards.

Mass-market paperbacks: these compact books are around 4.25” x 6.87” and easy to carry. Most Harlequin paperbacks fall into this group.

Trade paperbacks: These are the mainstream paperbacks carried by bookstores and can range anywhere from 5” x 8” to 6” x 9” (also known as US trade).

Hardcover: These tend to range from 6” x 9” to 8.5” x 11”.

Print on demand services such as CreateSpace, IngramSparks and Blurb all offer a wide range of trim sizes to select from.

How to choose a trim size?


If you are writing non-fiction such as self-help books or cook books or manuals which need diagrams and charts, then a larger print size is a good option. Readers will prefer it.  Fiction works differently.

Current Market Standards

Take a look at the paperback versions of books in your genre on the Amazon book store.

Under the product details you will see the number of pages and the dimensions of the book.

For example – in Cozy Mystery Books:

Product details

  • Paperback:344 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (November 22, 2017)
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 8 inches

 Product details

  • Paperback:351 pages
  • Publisher:Kennebec Large Print; Large Print edition (March 15, 2017)
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches

Product details

  • Paperback:380 pages
  • Publisher:Lake Union Publishing (April 4, 2017)
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8.2 inches

 Product details

  • Paperback:240 pages
  • Publisher:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (January 18, 2013)
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

Looking through the print formats of the top titles, excluding bundles of books, most novels are in trade paperback sizes.

Since I will be working with CreateSpace , to print a short mystery novel, it makes sense to use one of the four popular trim sizes (5 x 8 in, 5.5 x 8.5 in, 6 x 9 in).

Word Count.

The answer is going to be determined by how many pages my print book will have when it is printed. As an estimate, if my final text is around 50,000 words, this equates to 200 pages of 250 words in Word.

Spine Width

The cover of a print book has four areas:

  • The front cover where the cover art will be placed.
  • The spine area which runs down the length of the book. The width of the spine will be determined by how many pages there are in the book, which is determined by the size of those pages, the wordcount and the fonts used.
  • The back cover where the book description and bar code will be placed.
  • The bleed area. This is the area around the edges of each of these three cover areas which the printer needs to print and then trim the book pages to the correct size.

Here is an example of a 5 x 8 inch cover layout from Createspace where the pink areas are the bleed areas where text cannot be printed.

I want to have a print book with a spine which is wide enough for the title and author name can be printed, so I need to have a thicker book with more pages.

The down side of this is that print-on-demand printing serves charge you based on your page count, so extra pages increases the printing costs and reduces the royalties.

CreateSpace offer a handy calculation tool where you can work out the impact of changing trim size and the page count on royalty payments.

For example: As a test example since I have not fixed a price yet.


With all of these factors in mind, I have decided to go for a 5 x 8 inch print format book. The exact width of the spine will be determined by the final number of formatted pages in the print manuscript.

Righty. Back to the writing tomorrow. Have a great day.