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createspace formattingWelcome to Wednesday Formats! Where I make the boring world of book formatting seem like an adventure you have to try. Ok I made that last part up, but at least you hopefully learn something. When an author comes to me for formatting, the first question I always ask is “what trim size are you going to print” and almost always, especially if it’s an author who’s self  publishing for the first time, I get a deer in the headlights look. US standard trade paperback trim size is 6×9. These are the larger size paperbacks and usually have what’s known as “perfect bound binding”.

Createspace Formatting: How Size Effects You

However the most popular and most used trim size is 5×8.  This is what size the mass market paperbacks are produced at. The difference between a trade paperback and a mass market paperback basically has to do with size and the binding. Less expensive formatting is used for the mass market paperbacks.

So if you’re an author who’s about to self publish what does all of this mean? Well, it means if you want your book to look like pretty much every other book that’s mass produced and sitting on book store shelves, you’ll pick 5×8 especially if you’re doing a fiction novel. If you’re publishing a nonfiction novel however, then you want to stick to the 6×9 size.

After size you have to decide what color you want the interior pages to be. If you’ve read a book lately, regardless of genre, then you probably noticed the interior pages are cream color. The reason for this is readability. The big mass produced marketers determined cream pages produce less glare and therefore less eye strain. Both of which mean it’s easier on the reader’s eyes. It’s also less expensive to produce than white paper.  These are the main reasons you see almost all fiction novels produced with cream colored interior pages.


Having said all of that choosing white paper is also not necessarily “wrong”. When I format my nonfiction books, I always choose white paper and for nonfiction white paper is always recommended. In the end it basically comes down to, how closely do you want your book to mimic that of books which are mass market produced by the big Six? If you want yours identical, then you go with 5×8 (or 5.25×8) and cream colored paper. If you want to be similar but different then choose white paper instead. In the end, the color of paper won’t cause people to NOT buy your book. It’s just a single part of the whole. If you have all of the other parts done correctly, then whether you have white or cream paper is up to you. Part of being an indie author is having the creative control over your book to make it the way you want it to be.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Lauryn April says:

    This was very helpful. I’m publishing a book through Createspace and they recomment 6X9, but since my book is YA Paranormal Fiction I changed it to the 5X8. It’s a little detail, but one that I was freaking out over.

    • Dafeenah says:

      Thank you!! 5×8 is the most common especially for fiction with indie authors. I think Createspace recommends 6×9 as a default but if you’re doing fiction 5×8 is usually the norm. Especially if you’re wanting your book to be similar to the mass market paperbacks.

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