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What Is the Process Behind Book Printing?

Did you know that the Black Death contributed to the growth of the book printing process?

As the masses of people dying from The Black Death grew, the amount of worn, unused clothing grew. The discarded clothing was used to make “rag paper,” a cheap alternative to sheepskin and calfskin. This made it possible to make and buy books that were affordable. Of course, book printing today looks much different than it did in 1353.

So, are you wondering what book printing looks like today? Keep reading–we’re here to walk you through what the process of printing a book or booklet printing online looks like now.

Writing and Preparing a Manuscript

An author has several responsibilities when writing their draft: researching, writing and revising. The process of composing a manuscript is lengthy and requires patience and discipline. There are several steps taken to create the perfect manuscript.

Find an Original Story Idea

When mulling over thousands of ideas and story prompts, an author has the pressure of deciding what will be their best-selling content. Developing a best-selling story idea always includes:

  • The 5 W’s of story: what, where, when, why, and who
  • Tension and dramatic action
  • The appeal to a particular audience

Once the author has developed a base for their story, they’ll begin their research.

Prepare Research Notes

Researching elements of a story might include time periods, geographical places, professions, and cultural backgrounds. Once the author has decided who their characters are, they’ll want to fill them out with a well-researched background.

Keeping a document of organized notes and sources will help flesh out research and drafting.

Set a Deadline and Write a Draft

When each character, setting, and scene is ready, the author can begin their writing process.

Setting a manageable deadline is crucial in order to stick to writing a book. If a deadline is unclear, it’s easy to drop a project and not return to it. Keeping a timely manner is key to finishing a draft and moving on to getting it published and printed.

Choosing a Publishing House

When choosing a publishing house to represent a book, there are several factors to consider. Are they a reputable company? Do they require literary agents? Will they consider unsolicited manuscripts?

There are several major publishing houses to look at:

  • Penguin Random House
  • Hachette Livre
  • Simon & Schuster
  • HarperCollins

Since these are high-level publishing houses, most of them won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts. Because of this, it’s recommended that an author finds a literary agent that will support and grow their range.

However, smaller publishing houses usually list their submission requirements on their websites and might be more likely to accept unsolicited manuscripts. One benefit of working with small publishing houses is that the greater amount of small publishers that accept you, the greater your chances are to be recognized by a renowned publisher.

After choosing several publishing houses, the author should develop a strong query letter.

Developing a Query Letter

Being proactive and putting together a great query letter is another key aspect of the book publishing and printing process. Mastering a letter that will help publishing houses choose this particular book takes time and effort but it’s worth it.

Strong query letters are usually composed out of:

  • A personalized introduction
  • The genre and title of the book
  • A substantial hook
  • A bio
  • Thank you and conclusion

This letter is vital to send to publishers for a proper introduction of the author and their book. Developing a great query letter is simple but impactful.

Submitting The Perfect Manuscript

Once a publishing house has asked for either a partial or full copy of an author’s manuscript, they’ll be able to begin the publishing process.

Some things to remember are to keep professionalism high and be okay with rejections. An author will have rejections many more times than they’ll get accepted. Learning to be positive about rejections and continuing to submit proposals everywhere is important in the publishing world.

Obtaining an editor or literary agent during the process is also crucial to the relationship between the publisher and the author. Having help and mentorship throughout the journey will encourage and support the author.

Starting the Book Printing Process

There are several kinds of book printing: board printing and paper printing. Board book printing is a specialized, refined type of book printing service that is usually done for children’s books.

The process below is for traditional, paper book printing. Custom book printing takes several stages.

Step 1: Inscription

Rubber is burnt onto metal plates, inscribing text onto each surface. There’s usually a limit on how many pages are in the printing press at the same time–from 8 to 32 pages.

Because some plates are blank while loading pages onto a plate, it’s common to occasionally find blank pages in the front and/or back of a book.

Step 2: Printing

A printing press is usually a standing machine including a chain of rollers, called an “in-feed station.” This is to hold the author’s choice of paper (including custom weight, color, size, and width) in large sheets, ready for printing. These sheets can accommodate large print books to small sizes.

Once the in-feed station has been loaded and prepped, it begins moving at the same speed as the press, tightly unwinding paper and ensuring that it’s kept from wrinkling. The in-feed station passes paper through the print units, which includes a dampening system and an inking system.

The metal plates are coated in ink, then sprayed with water to remove excess ink (all the white space you see on a page). These metal plates will transfer the inked areas onto the print cylinder, effectively gluing the ink onto the paper reel.

After the pages have been properly inked, the paper will be cut, folded, and stacked, prepped to be bound.

Step 3: Developing the Cover

Book covers are printed in a special, separate printing press. Because of the unique types of materials and details a book cover has, it needs a specialized printer. Once the book cover has been printed and inspected, it’s ready to attach to the book.

Once the cover and the pages have been glued together, the whole book is trimmed and ready for packaging.

Ending the Printing Process With a Shiny New Book

Book printing is a process that has been around for ages–constantly growing and churning. There are thousands of books being printed daily, providing reading material to people of all ages.

If you enjoyed this article on book printing, check out more from our Books tab.

This post contains affiliate links. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from and other Amazon websites.

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