Timeline for printing processes

You have chosen a print broker or printer and have signed a Sales Agreement and paid a down payment. You have received pdf instructions for making your final pdf for the printer along with cover or dust jacket templates and have prepared your files per the printer's instructions.



Once you have uploaded your pdf files to the printer or print broker and have received word that they are OK for printing, you will receive a proof soon afterwards. It may be a digital proof, or it may be an actual paper proof, possibly an Epson proof or other type pf proof. Some proofs are lo-rez and others are Epson proofs (high rez) or proofs on paper. Some printers call the lo-rez proofs plotter proofs and they act as bluelines so you can make sure the pagination and crossover pages are correct. Typically the offshore printers provide high rez Epson proofs or proofs on paper for all the pages, while US printers usually only provide 8 or 16 pages of color Epson proofs (high rez) along with a set of lo-rez plotter proofs. All printers provide an Epson proof of the cover and/or dust jacket.

Often we see first proof, and then either see second proofs or we can approve second proofs on-line. Each physical set of proofs take about 6-10 days to arrive from the printer. We send the set on to you with comments from us and talk over the phone about corrections. We basically continue proofing until everything is approved. We generally allow about three to four weeks for that process for a first-time publisher, although it can be accomplished in about 10 days if you have done it before or if the project is relatively simple.


When we have approved all elements of the book, then we generally see a final pdf on-line of all the changes, and with that approval we are ready to print. Any high resolution color poofs need to be returned to the printer, so you need to return them to us at your expense, and we return them to the printer at our expense. They should be returned overnight. Those approved proofs are used by the pressmen for matching color on press.


Printing takes a few weeks generally. As soon as all the signatures have been printed and the pages stacked and placed on pallets ready for the next stage, you should see F & Gs. F & Gs are the folded and gathered signatures.  We request them to be cut to size and stapled and two sets are sent to us. You receive one set from us to approve before binding. If there is anything wrong it can be caught at this time. If it is a printer mistake, he will reprint for free, if it is something you missed at proofing then you will have to pay to have the signature/signatures reprinted. When the F & Gs are approved then the book goes forward into folding and sewing or binding.


Binding is the final part of book manufacturing and differs depending on what type of binding you have ordered. Once binding is completed, you should receive an advance copy before the books are packed and ready to be shipped.  Binding takes one to three days depending on the quantity and complication of the book. For example, some books require special binding or they have various elements such as multiple foil stampings that take longer than a standard book.


Once the advance copy is approved, the printer will pack the books and complete the documentation for customs. This normally takes one or two days. Included in the quote is a door-to-door service, so the books will go to either your residence or to a storage facility. At this point any further requested advance copies are sent to the client. If you have an event that is less than 5 or 6 weeks away from the shipping ETD (estimated time of departure) you should request a few cartons for that event. They will be sent from Asia the most economical way by air, at your expense. You may also want some advance copies for reviews or for marketing. You should notify the print broker or printer at the start of printing what your advance copy needs are going to be and if you have a specific date you need books you should talk about this and make arrangements at the beginning of the entire printing process.


Once you books are packed, they may then be containerized at the plant or go to a freight forwarder for consolidation. Your shipment will most likely be LCL which is loose freight rather than a full container for your books. Your books have their own set of paperwork. and it is noteworthy to say that each part of the shipment must be cleared before the container can be opened and sorted for inland delivery. Usually the large printers have containers on their site and fill them with books, which is better than having them mixed with non books. Bolton Associates will keep in touch with the freight forwarder during the transportation part so that you are well informed as to when the ship docks, and when the books are on their way to you from the port. This is a very complicated part of the process and we let you know as much information as possible right up to delivery.

Below is a comparison of times it takes for printing in the US or printing overseas.Timeline for printing processes

The above timeline builds in quality guarantees so that you know what your book will look like and that you are satisfied before binding and before shipping. These approval stages are now built into our schedules because it makes sense.

For a realistic schedule with plenty of time, please increase the above schedule by 1-2 weeks. Schedule any book signings or launches 2-4 weeks after the proposed arrival date of your book.