How We Work

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About How We Work With You.

Q) Assuming I decide to have my books produced by Gray Dog Press what is your normal process?

A) We work with a number of small press publishers, universities, and self-published authors and in each instance we follow the same sequence of events.

First: We will discuss your project and get some feel for what you have and what you expect when the job is complete. All jobs are different and each requires us to fully understand what your goals are.

Second: Once we receive your files we will review them and counsel you on anything we see of concern.

Third: If we are doing the design and layout we prepare and send a PDF of the initial layout of the interior and cover for your review.

Fourth: Once the PDF is approved we prepare and send a production proof copy for your review.

Fifth: Once the proof copy is approved or corrections are made and a new file is sent we either go to production or generate another proof copy if the corrections were extensive or formatting has changed.

Finally: We give you an estimated time when we expect to finish the job when we make the production run.

Q) What is your usual turn-around time once the proof copy is approved?

A) At any given time we may have 5 or 10 book projects working their way through the process. Depending on the size of the job, and assuming we are working with approved print ready files, small runs of less than 250 books usually finish in 4 business days. Larger runs up to 500 we generally get out within a 7-10 business day window. Beyond that we can get an estimate based on format and page count.

Q) What are your standard trim sizes?

A) Short answer is, for portrait or square formats we can do pretty much anything you want. We have produced books as small as 4 X 6 and 5.5 X 5.5 to large 8-1/2 X 11 formats. Landscape formats are limited to 8.5” long.

Q) Is there a minimum print run?

A) We do not have a specific minimum, but quantity dictates price. Very short runs of a dozen have a much higher cost per copy than the same book produced in a quantity of 100, 250, or more. One thing though, for 6 X 9 and smaller formats we produce in multiples of 4. Formats larger than 6 X 9 are produced in multiples of 2. So figure for 50 6 X 9 format books we need to either round down to 48 or up to 52.

Q) What book cover options do I have?

A) To keep options to a manageable number we offer cover stock in 65#, 80#, and 100# high imaging cover. Since we run digitally we usually use a high imaging cover stock followed by either a gloss or matte laminate for optimal cover protection. We have found that since we are digital and do not use UV coatings a laminated cover over a C1S cover stock does not make a difference in output quality.

Q) What interior paper options do I have?

A) Most books use either an opaque white or an opaque natural. The papers we use are all acid-free and FSC certified, and are available as 50#, 60#, and 70# text weights. If a book exceeds 350 pages a 50# paper should be considered. Otherwise, the default weight is usually a 60# weight. For smaller, literary, poetry, or special works a 70# paper can add both thickness and a more substantial feel to the page. We can also include colored end sheets for additional interest to the final product.

Q) How do I figure spine thickness for my book?

A) As a general rule of thumb you can figure your spine thickness by the following formula: Number-of-Leaves multiplied by the Text-Weight. Or most common book stocks are an offset opaque white or natural in 50#, 60#, and 70#. Their caliper thickness is: 50# = .0038, 60# = .0046, and 70# = .0052

Q) What are your standard payment terms?

A) 50% down after the initial assessment and agreement to do the work and the balance before shipping.

Q) What are your shipping options?

A) We have found USPS Media Mail to be a very cost-effective way of moving a lot of books for less money than other carriers. However, if you prefer UPS or FedEx we can ship by either of those methods as well. We use boxes with a minimum 200 pound strength but only load 40-45 pounds of books per container. And, we charge only for actual shipping and container costs. If you have multiple locations we can accommodate splitting up the total to specific destinations you desire.

Q) What type of electronic files do you accept?

A) We prefer PDF files that are exported as either a High Quality PDF or as a PDF-x1A standard. However, if we are doing the layout and design then your edited manuscript in MS-Word format is fine. All of our design work for the interior is done with InDesign.

Q) How do I get my files to you?

A) In most instances you can simply send them as an email attachment. If the files are very large then contact us for other options.

Q) Can you provide a cover template if I choose to do my own cover?

A) Yes. If you are creating your own cover once we know the specific spine width we can prepare a template you can use in applications such as Photoshop, InDesign, etc.

Q) What is “bleed” and how do I set up my cover to accommodate it?

A) When an image or element goes to the trim edge, it is said to have “bleed.” Since the trim process needs to cut into the image to avoid potential white space your design needs to add at least 1/8” past the final trim edge. For example, assume a 6 X 9 book with a 1/2” spine thickness. Top to bottom you have 1/8” + 9” + 1/8” = 9-1/4”. The cover length is calculated as: 1/8” + 6” + 1/2” + 6” + 1/8” = 12-3/4”.

Q) If I am doing my own interior layout how wide should my margins be?

A) Margins vary depending on what kind of book you are doing. Generally non-fiction works have wider margins than novels. Margins that are too wide simply add pages and production cost to the final product. Also, as a book gets smaller or larger, the margin will shrink or grow. For a 6 X 9 format novel we usually start with a 3/4” top, 1/” bottom, 5/8” inside (gutter), and 1/2” outside. Once we get the text dropped in, get the type, point size and leading set, and before we start the detail work we may change the values to increase or decrease the page count. A large 8-1/2 X 11 format usually starts with 1” margins all around and the make adjustments once we get an idea as to the visual presentation.

Q) Do you provide the ISBN for my book?

A) No we are not an authorized provider. You can obtain single or multiple ISBNs at And there are other providers selling single or multiple ISBNs, the magic of an internet search brings up many options. If you have intentions on producing more than 3-4 books over time then it may be to your benefit to buy a block of ten ISBNs.

Q) Where do I get a bar code?

A) Generally, when you purchase an ISBN the barcode is provided. If you have an ISBN and a barcode was not provided, please contact us and we can generate one for you. All we need is the ISBN you have purchased and the retail price of the book.