If you would like to include images in your book's interior, and this article outlines what you need to know before submitting your images and manuscript.
Table of Contents
- Printing vs screen appearance
- Image placement
- Submitting images
- Image quality
- Fixing low resolution images
- Colour vs. black & white
- CMYK colour model & ink saturation
- Rights & permissions
- Extra design time
Printing vs screen appearance
In many ways, seeing a photo printed in a physical book can be far more satisfying and special than seeing that same image on your smartphone screen. However, photos on the printed page will never be as vivid and bright as they do in high definition on a backlit LED screen, and you should be prepared to notice a difference between the way images you have provided look on your screen versus how they appear in your printed book. For most authors, as long as you provide your images at a sufficient size, our designers will apply the necessary adjustments to make them look great on the printed page.
On the other hand, if your book relies heavily on imagery and you are very discerning about how you want your images to look when printed, be sure to pay special attention to the section on CMYK and ink density below.
Please do not include image files directly in the manuscript you submit for design. Instead, we ask that you please insert ***Image Tags*** in the manuscript, which are separate paragraphs in your manuscript, set apart with asterisks, that include the images' file names and any required caption text. In other words, image tags are placeholder text showing your designer precisely where each image should be placed within your book.
Below is a sample image tag in bold:
Body text here...
***Image1.jpg: The orchard had the most delicious apples year after year.***
Body text continues here...
*Important: When you upload the corresponding images to Octavo, make sure the same file name(s) are used as are specified in the image tag(s).
More information on image tags and how to add them to your manuscript are included on page 2 of our Manuscript Submission Guidelines.
Upload your image files to Octavo at the same time as you upload your manuscript, by clicking the blue rectangular area underneath "Interior/Manuscript Images", navigating to the corresponding folder(s) on your computer where the images are located, and selecting the images you want to include in your book.
Once again, make sure the same file name(s) of your images match the file names specified in you image tag(s).
When you upload images to Octavo, you will be shown the maximum width they should be printed at without losing quality. Images less than a certain size will show a quality warning. The easiest way to find out if your image is of high-enough quality to print is to simply upload the image to Octavo and find out what the maximum printable width is, you can always delete it afterwards by clicking the blue "del" button.
You can also find out the maximum printable width by dividing the number of pixels in your image by 300.
Find image dimensions in Windows: right click the image file > select Properties > Details tab.
On a Mac: right click the image file > select > Get Info > expand the More Details Section.
When deciding whether to replace an image with a quality warning, you need to consider the trim size of your book, as well as how big you want the image to be. For example, a thumbnail author portrait on the about the author page may not need to be any larger than 3 inches wide. On the other hand, a full page illustration that extends all the way to the margins will need to be within 0.5" of your trim size width or larger, or 0.5" wider than your trim size for a full bleed image that extends all the way to the edges of the page.
The industry standard for printed images is a minimum resolution of 300 DPI, or dots per inch. For comparison, 72 DPI is the standard for screen resolution. In other words. to have high-quality printed output on paper, you need more "dots" (which roughly equate to pixels on a screen) per inch to achieve the same quality as you see on your mobile device or computer screen. This is why you may see a quality warning on an image uploaded to Octavo even if it appears to be clear and good quality on a screen.
There is more in-depth info available on this blog post.
Fixing low resolution images
If you are getting a quality/size warning on one or more of your images in Octavo, we recommend replacing the files with higher quality images to ensure the best quality final printed product. Below you will find instructions on how to come up with better-quality files for physical/scanned photos, digital photos and photos sourced from the internet.
- Physical photos: Re-scan your photograph at 600dpi – this will give you a digital image that can be printed at a larger size than the physical photograph currently is, while still keeping the file size reasonable. Use a scanner (even a cheap one will do), but do not take a photo with your mobile phone camera.
- Mobile device/digital photo: Make sure the image is taken at the highest possible quality setting (don't use the front selfie camera!), and then download it at the highest quality possible. If you are emailing a photo from your phone to your computer, make sure your phone settings don't downgrade the quality of the photo.
- Images sourced from the internet: source a similar image in high resolution from a stock photography website. Free sites include pexels.com, unsplash.com, or pixabay.com, while popular paid sites include Adobe Stock and Shutterstock.
Once you have your replacement images prepared, you'll need to upload them to Octavo. Click the blue "del" button to remove the old low-quality images, and then upload the new images to the blue “+ Manuscript Image Upload Area”. Each time you upload an image to Octavo, you will be able to see the maximum width the file can be printed without losing quality.
The image on the left above would be suitable for an image centred on a page with text, but not for a full-bleed front cover image, due to its limited size.
Colour vs. black & white
Note that for print-on-demand distribution, if a single image in the interior of the book is in colour then you will need to select colour interior for your book, which will increase the print cost, so we strongly recommend only including colour images if they are essential to the story. You can use our compensation calculator to explore the effect of colour vs. B&W on the royalties you will earn at different prices.
CMYK colour model & ink saturation
If you are supplying colour images for a book that relies heavily on imagery, such as a cook book, photography book or illustrated children's book, and there is a specific way you want your images to look when printed, then it is also important that you provide your images in CMYK format with a total ink saturation that does not exceed 240% (also known as ink density or ink limit, e.g. 60% Cyan / 40% Magenta / 40% Yellow / 100% Black).
Providing your images in CMYK will help to minimize how much the final printed photo appearance varies from what you see on your screen. Learn more here.
Our designers will always apply the necessary adjustments to image files to ensure they look good when printed across a variety of printers; however, this does not include painstaking optimization of individual photos to meet subjective requirements. We can do this, however it does come at an additional cost for the extra design time required.
Above: CMYK (print, left) and RGB (screens, right) colour models differ slightly in colour saturation and vibrancy
Rights & permissions
You must also ensure that you have obtained the necessary rights and permissions to use any images in your printed book (considered commercial use) because you as the Author take full responsibility for the content of the work being published as outlined in our Terms and Conditions.
Just because an image is available to be downloaded from the internet does not mean you have permission to include it in your book! Luckily, there are many stock imagery sites with searchable databases of images that can be freely used for commercial use, such as pexels.com, unsplash.com or pixabay.com.
On the other hand, if you have photographs provided courtesy of a photographer, friend or family member, an email confirmation from that person stating you have the rights to use their photograph in your book may be all you need, though including an attribution note on the copyright page stating something like "Photograph on page 197 by Joe Smith" is best practice.
Extra design time
Please keep in mind that there is a certain amount of design time included in your publishing package, which allows for some "design complexities" (e.g. image placements, centre formatted quotes, charts and tables) that are above and beyond basic text layout.
If you have more than 30 images in your book, you will likely need to purchase extra design time at an hourly rate. After you submit your manuscript, your Project Manager will assess the file for complexities and will reach out to you to explain your options before you incur any additional charges.