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How to make a book - part two

In our last blog, we talked about format, typography, and layout. This week, we’re going to run through some of the often-unseen things that need to be in place before a book can go to print.

The cover

Of course, your book needs a cover! It’s one of the most exciting parts of putting a book together. Mostly, people focus on the front cover because, aesthetically, it’s the most appealing. The back cover, however, is home to some of the most essential elements of publication – not as nice to look at, but necessary if your book is to find its way into shops.


This number is unique to your book. You need separate ISBNs for paperback, hardback, and eBook formats. If you’re a self-publisher and you produce your book through a platform like Blurb, they can assign you an ISBN. The advantage of buying one directly from ISBN providers Nielsen, however, is that your number will be tied specifically to you.

For example, Bat Dog’s ISBN is 978-0-9957266-0-4. The digits in blue will be the same for every Bewick Press title and the red digits are specific to the paperback edition of Bat Dog’s Forever Home.


Most booksellers require barcodes so they can scan stock in and out. Your barcode will link to your ISBN and, in some cases, can hold price information too. These days, that isn’t really necessary and most booksellers prefer to assign their own price data in-house.

There are lots of free barcode makers online that will convert your ISBN for you but you need to ensure their resolution is suitable for print. If you’re unsure about which source to use, BIC (Book Industry Communication) recommend Axicon, who are extremely quick and charge about £13 for a barcode.

FSC logo

Above the barcode, you will usually find a book’s RRP, alongside the publisher’s logo and website. It’s also a good area to place the FSC logo if you want your readers to know that your printers use paper from ‘well-managed’ forests. Note that you can’t just copy and paste this logo in yourself. The FSC must see where the logo is being used and approve it, which your printer can arrange for you.

Recommended Retail Price (RRP)

It’s important to decide, early on, what you’ll be charging for your book. This calculation is a balancing act based on how much your book is going to cost you to produce and what people will be prepared to pay for it.

The RRP is the price your customers will pay, but it’s not what booksellers will pay. Most bookshops (Waterstones, WH Smiths, etc.) will command a 40% discount. Amazon, however, takes a 60% discount – which, perhaps, explains why books are so much cheaper to buy on Amazon than in physical bookshops!


If you set your RRP at £6.99, a bookseller who demands a 60% discount will pay you just £2.80 per copy. From this £2.80, you need to subtract your production costs, author royalties, etc.

This is a very basic example, but it demonstrates how tight the margins are. And, while it’s tempting to just whack up the RRP to, say, £10.99 – it’s far from the ideal solution. You need to look at what other books of your genre, format, and page-count sell for and price accordingly.

Next time

We’ll be talking about how we’ve been preparing our crowdfunding rewards and – hopefully – we’ll have some sneaky pictures of them being packaged up ready for posting!

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

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