Example of How to Layout a PaperBack for LightningSource

One of the POD printers we use to produce our paperbacks is LightningSource. This has strict settings for the margins on the books or the book is rejected in setup. Their file creation guide gives details on what needs to be setup

They recommend 0.5″ or 13mm on each side, plus 0.125″ (3mm) bleed, but what does this equate to when you generate your book? We thought we’d share the settings we’ve use and that have worked for books uploaded with them. The books are standard black and white interior paperbacks of 5.25 in x 8 in or 203mm x 133mm.

Staring in MS Word setup :

  1. the paper size (so it matches the size of the book)
  2. the margins, gutter and bleed (so it meets the requirements of LightningSource)

We also setup the size to the footer/header as this also affects where text appears and may result in the text running into the unprintable area in the margins.

The LightningSource recommended sizes give the maximum printable area. You can use a margin bigger than those, if you do then you’ll have less text on the page and therefore more pages and higher production costs. To reduce the page count, and therefore the production cost, we decided to keep close to the suggested sizes. We found these gave printed books with a reasonable, and not excessive margin on the cut edge of the book, and also didn’t print too close to the bound area down the middle.

So if you want to produce a standard text black and white book of a similar size that is printed at LightningSource then here are some settings we’ve used. They are options on the Page Layout – Margins – Customer Margins option in MS Word. The first two shown apply to ‘This section’ but we used the same settings throughout the book.

Page setup:

Page Size Setting For LightningSource


Margins Setting For LightningSourceNote.We have a minutely larger margin on the ‘inside’ as we found this kept sloping font italic characters out of the margins. Depending if you have a lot of italics, then you might also want to similarly increase the ‘outside’ margin as well.

Header/footer size:Page Layout Setting For LightningSource

14 December 2014

Distribution Plan for an Independent Publisher for eBooks and POD

Before we started our publishing journey we considered how we expected to print and distribute books. This is the outline plan we put together. It focuses on distributing to Amazon as paperbacks and ebooks, and considers the routes to make books available more widely as paperbacks to online and physical bookshops. It assumes paperbacks are initially printed-on-demand (POD) via both LightningSource and Amazon Createspace (although it isn’t necessary to use both). We’ve not completed all the distribution paths we first thought of (those with dotted links are pending), as, for instance, we’ve not completed any audio books or distributed any short stories yet, partially as audio via Amazon’s ACW wasn’t initially available in the UK (although it is now). Some of the things listed were tried (like Amazon eStore and Amazon Select) and were a mixed success which we may or may now continue with (most likely not continue with).

Outline Production and Print Plan for Small Independent Publisher of ebooks and paperbacks (POD)

Outline Production and Print Plan for Small Independent Publisher of ebooks and paperbacks (POD)

4 November 2014

Generating Book Interior PDF for LightningSource with Adobe Acrobat XI Pro

LightningSource printing can be used for print-on-demand (POD) books, or for small print runs. Their book setup requires the cover and the interior to be loaded separately. The cover has to be built to a specific size and their website has a template generator ( to produce the right size of cover for the type of book, the number of pages, paper type and book finish. The book interior is however down to you, but must comply with LightningSource’s requirements for a PDF. We’ve uploaded a few interior files now, they have all been accepted on the first upload, and here we share the settings we’ve used.
First thing to note is that we use Adobe Acrobat XI Pro to generate the PDF. There are later versions of Adobe Acrobat available, or it can be run from Adobe’s cloud Software as a Service (SaaS) options, or have a look through eBay for a copy of a suitable version (with a licence key).
Once you have Adobe Acrobat the following may help as this is how we generate our PDFs. This assumes that you have already formatted the document into a mirrored page layout in MS Word with appropriate margins for a book being printed by LightningSource, and that the book is formated into pages, proofread and ready to go.

  1. In MS Word, select Print and then select ‘Adobe PDF’ as the printer.print adobe pdf
  2. Select the button under ‘Adobe PDF’ for ‘Printer Properties’.adobe start menu
  3. Select ‘Adobe PDF Page Size’ and either pick the size you want or select ‘Add’ and create a customized size. We created a customized size. The size for our books is 5.25in x 8 in or 133.35mm x book size
  4. Select ‘Default Settings’ and ‘Edit’ to choose the settings to configure the PDF file. These are the settings we use, first for ‘General’. Here select the ‘Compatibility’ mode and set the default page size.general
  5. then for Imagesimages
  6. for Fonts. Select to embed all fonts.fonts
  7. for Colorcolor
  8. for Advancedadvanced
  9. for Standards. We chose ‘PDF/X-3 (Acrobat 4.0 Compatable)’, although more compatibility options are supported by LightningSource so choose one available at LightningSource.standards
  10. Once you have all the settings you want select ‘Save As’ and give the format a name you can find again later.
  11. With the ‘Adobe Properties’ selected, choose ‘Print’ to create the PDF file.
  12. Once the PDF is created, Adobe Acrobat will open automatically, if not, open the document with Acrobat, and then check that all the fonts being used in the document are the ones you want and that no others have snuck in.  Select File->Properties->Fonts. If any are wrong or not embedded, then go back to the MS Word document and remove or correct them before recreating the PDF again as above.loaded fonts

The PDF file created can also be used at other printers provided they don’t have different print sizes, different margins, or different PDF standards, so, for instance, the file output from these instructions can alternatively be loaded at Amazon’s CreateSpace although the MS Word file margins for CreateSpace can be different.

20 October 2014