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Q: Any standards of book illustration production for color trade publications? ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Any standards of book illustration production for color trade publications?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: perspiringwriter-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 12 Sep 2004 10:22 PDT
Expires: 12 Oct 2004 10:22 PDT
Question ID: 400170
I would appreciate obtaining some fairly detailed / clear information,
from 3 or 4 different trade publishers (e.g., Random House, Simon &
Schuster, Time Warner, etc.) regarding the form in which they prefer /
require to receive color illustrations in manuscripts submitted for
trade publications (for example, a drawing in color to appear in a
book about dogs).  To clarify, must the illustration be in paper form
and if so are there standards of minimal image size, density /
deepness of color, type of paper (matte, glossy) and so on?  Do they
prefer to receive illustrations in digital formats, like photoshop? 
If the illustration exists already, as a color painting, do they have
difficulty handling that?  I realize that every publisher may have its
own specific standards, but I assume there must be some general
approach designed to maximize image quality and ease of handling.  If
possible, I also need to know if the same rules apply to any
multi-color graph (axes and curves, etc.) or chart (bar, pie) that
might be included in the manuscript.  Many thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by mathtalk-ga on 12 Sep 2004 20:28 PDT
Hi, perspiringwriter-ga:

The phrase trade publications could mean different things, so please
clarify the sense in which you asked about them here.  A trade
publication is often a magazine sponsored by an industry "trade"
organization, ie. a marketing vehicle of limited shelf-life.  However
the publishers you mention and the example of "a book about dogs" may
point to books rather than magazines.

thanks in advance, mathtalk-ga

Clarification of Question by perspiringwriter-ga on 13 Sep 2004 02:02 PDT
Thanks, mathtalk, your request for clarification is much appreciated. 
Sorry for the ambiguity.  What I meant was a book, not a magazine or
any other form of publication.  Not necessarily a large format
coffee-table style book with thousands of high-quality photographs (in
fact, I doubt there will be any photographs at all), but nonetheless a
book with color illustrations, charts, etc. to make greater impact and
facilitate the conveyance of meaning.
Subject: Re: Any standards of book illustration production for color trade publications?
Answered By: angy-ga on 02 Oct 2004 02:09 PDT
Hi, perspiringwriter !

A good guide to publisher's general guidelines can be found at:

Among others it quotes Random House as saying:

"We do not accept submissions, proposals or submission queries via
e-mail at this time. If you would like to have your work or manuscript
considered for publication by a major book publisher, we recommend
that you work with an established literary agent."

This advice is reiterated by Time Warner at:

"  Manuscript Submissions and Unsolicited Queries

Publishers in the Time Warner Book Group (including Warner Books,
Warner Business Books, Warner Faith, Mysterious Press, Aspect, Little,
Brown and Company, Back Bay Books, Bulfinch Press, Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers) are not able to consider unsolicited manuscript
submissions and unsolicited queries. Many major publishers have a
similar policy. Unfamiliar packages and letters mailed to our offices
will be returned to sender unopened."

They say something similar about unsolicited jacket art submissions.

If you are working in the USA you will almost certainly have to find
an agent before any major publisher will even look at your work, as
the literary agents are very well established there. This does not
apply so rigidly elsewhere in the English speaking world.

Once accepted by a major publisher, they would almost certainly assign
a book designer to the product, part of whose job is overseeing the
whole "look" of the book, from choice of typeface to illustrations.
You might end up with not much say in the matter  - apart from
diagrams, of course - which is one reason self-publishing both print
and e-books is becoming so popular.

Unlimited Publishing, who specialise in republishing out of print
books on demand, are at:

They say:

"Q: Can I create the cover design myself, or use an outside designer?

A: You may provide a detailed "sample design" to guide us in creating
the cover. You may also provide one or two color photographs (or 300
dpi image files at least 4x5" in size) as a foundation for the cover

We will use your sample to execute a compatible design in the same
spirit, while insuring that the actual production work is suitable for
the specific printing environments in which we will manufacture the
book. Remember that POD is significantly different than conventional
offset printing or desktop publishing, and we use multiple printers,
each of which has different specifications. We are intimately familiar
with the specific requirements, and almost always get better, faster,
and more economical results creating the actual production files for

However, your input toward the spirit of the design is not only
allowed, but encouraged. We welcome your ideas about the final look of
your book, and will work hard to translate your vision to reality."

To directly address the issue of print specifications, the publishers
I've worked with recently,  (placing colour ads, creating CD covers
and illustrating poetry) expected the illustrations to be sent
directly to the printer of their choice. The printers usually required
the illustrations in .tif format (for Mackintosh computers, still the
industry standard for graphics) and also the illustrations broken down
into CYMK separations - (cyan, yellow, magenta, black). A programme
such as Adobe Photoshop, or less expensively JASC Paintshop Pro, will
do this for you.

They will need to be at the correct finished size at a minimum 300 dpi
(dots per inch) though some printers are now able to print at an even
higher resolution and a requirement for 600 dpi is quite common.

You will need to allow for bleed, which basically means leaving a tiny
margin around the edge for the ink to wander a bit. I think this
depends on the paper grade, and seems to vary between 3mm to 6 mm.

Some printers allow artwork to be submitted via email, but that will
depend a lot on the finished size of the files. Submission on disk is
preferable for big graphic files.

For some examples of printer's requirements see FormStore's comments at:

and Unlimited Publishing at:

offer this, among other options:

"You may submit digital files in TIFF, JPG or BMP formats. Digital
images will be produced at 300 dpi (if your image is 600 by 900
pixels, it will be 2 inches by 3 inches on the book cover). Digital
camera images of one Gigapixel are usually about 3 inches by 3 inches
in size when produced at 300 dpi."

Once they have accepted your book, a publisher will inform you of
their current standards - like everything else, requirements change as
technology improves. If you simply want to include sample
illustrations in your manuscript, I suggest including them in place in
a pdf file of your book.

By the way, if your work is fiction, check which publishers prefer to
receive "partials" rather than a full manuscript for assessment - this
usually means three chapters plus a summary.

When using an existing painting, you would need to be sure of the
copyright, or the licensing position for a museum piece, and your
photograph or scan would need to be very high quality if you were
doing it yourself.

The best of luck with your project.

Search strategy:

"Random House" submission requirements
printers submission requirements
Subject: Re: Any standards of book illustration production for color trade publications?
From: 3dexcellence-ga on 09 Mar 2005 09:17 PST
In my experience, they want the copy to be given to them in a rendered
image of at least 3,000 x 3,000 resolution for book print.  Lower
resolutions tend to pixelate when printed.

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