A book is a wonderfully complicated thing. I believe that you should understand everything about a book before trying to have one printed, especially considering the investment in time and money. There is always the idea in the back of one’s mind that if the book is interesting or beautiful enough people will naturally be drawn to it. One has a tendency to think that if you produce a smashing book it will fly off the shelves. I tried that myself twice, and found it wasn't true. Beyond the actual book itself you need to know who you are going to sell it to, and then you need a plan to market your book to that audience. You also need to get into the distribution game.
There's lots of help on the web for marketing; for without proper focus on marketing it would be like throwing a very fancy party that no one came to. It can be pretty emotionally and financially devastating. It might actually mean postponing your book to address marketing, but that postponement might be the best thing you ever did, rather than have the book sitting in your garage gathering dust while you backtrack to make a place for it in the world.
But if you have a marketing plan, but are not really clear on your vision of the book itself, it helps to sit down at your own bookshelf, or the bookshelves in the library, or in a bookstore, and carefully look at both soft cover and hard cover books. Look at the trim size of the book, (take a ruler and a notepad) jot down the measurements. Feel the paper, how it fits in our hands, how its weight affects your positive or negative outlook on the overall book. Then find a few different styles, a hard cover with a dustjacket, for example, and take off the dustjacket and look at the book underneath. Is it a printed cover, a paper cover with foil stamping or a cloth cover with foil stamping? Imagine this is your book. Is one type of binding so much more exciting than others? Note these reactions. Look at the endsheets. Do you like a patterned endsheet, a plain one, a colored one? Are flaps appealing to you on soft cover books? Do you like the glossy paper inside or matt paper? Which size makes you want your book to be that size? Also take note of the size vs number of pages vs retail price of the various styles of books. Hard cover books have a different market than soft cover books, and a different audience goes for the hard cover. Hard cover books are likely to be gift books if they are cute and small, for example.
As you explore books you will see how many different ways there are to put them together, although overall they look very similar. The more you discover the different parts of books, the more you will be able to produce a book you will truly love.
I often ask my clients to go to their favorite book place and find a book that represents aspects of the book they hope to produce. Buy the book and place a few post-it-notes throughout to recall what drew you to that particular book. Then, if needed, you can send that book to me so we can talk over the phone about the aspects you love. We will probably talk about branding, size, paper choices, color and texture along with other things you like about the book.
But even if you have already designed your book and made all those choices it may be that there are some printing issues or color issues you may not be aware of, and for those kinds of issues I can be of great help, since all things are fixable before final pdf files are uploaded to the printer. Experience counts. Thirty five plus years of producing books. I love books (and it shows).
If you are ready to find out what a book you might produce will cost, fill out my quick inquiry or my full quote request making sure to give me a range of quantities from the smallest you might want to a larger number so you can begin to understand why marketing is so important, that is, why quantity only equals profit when the quantities are large enough.