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Self-Publishing Frequently Asked Questions

(why, what, when, and how much)

What type of book can I print?
The Espresso Book Machine produces perfect-bound paperbacks. This means that they have a glued spine, just like most of the paperbacks on the shelves of our store. The interior pages are black and white and the cover is full-color.

How much do the books cost to print?
Printing costs vary from author to author, depending on the length of your book and which services you’re requesting. Click here to learn more, or contact us to get an estimate for your own project.


How quickly will my book(s) be produced?
The duration of the print run depends on a number of factors. Most notably, the length of the book (the overall page count), the content on each page (image-heavy pages take longer to print), and especially the number of copies requested affects how long it'll take for an order to be completed. As well, the printing queue (the number of orders needed to be printed at any given time) will affect how quickly we can finish your order.

In short, the answer to this question varies from order to order. Once your files have been deemed print-ready the wait time is usually as follows:

  • Up to 30 books: 1 week
  • Over 30 books: 1-2 weeks

Please note that the above time-frames are estimates. Once you've placed your order with us, we can give you a better idea of how long it will take to finish printing your books. If you need your books by a specific date, we strongly encourage you to contact us at least one month before your deadline so that we have enough time to produce your order.


How many books do I have to print? How many can I print?
As many or as few as you likeflexible order quantities are one of the EBM’s biggest advantages. There are no minimums and no maximums: you can print one, ten, fifty, or five hundred books. The sky's the limit!


Can I make changes to my book after I print it?
Yes. We keep your book's files on our system for the sake of future printings. But if you want to submit a revised file to us, we can re-upload it to the Book Machine for a small fee (please see our Pricing page for more information and current pricing). Note that all of our setup packages, with the exception of the Personal Project Lite printing package, come with a single set of revisions for no charge.

How do I order more copies?
Just drop us a line at, or give us a call at 204-475-0483, ext. 242, to order more copies of your book.

(submission guidelines, file requirements, formatting advice, trim sizes, paper stocks, design options, etc.) 

What options do I have for submitting my files?
Most authors submit their files via email. If you plan to come to the store, you can bring them on a USB device (commonly referred to as a "memory stick") or CD. We can also receive files via websites designed for purpose of file transfer, such as If you're dropping off your files in person and would like us to look at them while you're here, we ask that you make an appointment. Please email us for details or to schedule a meeting.

What types of files can I submit?
All files must be submitted as PDFs (PDF stands for Portable Document Format). We cannot print your book from a Word .doc or other word processing program file format. Converting your original files to PDFs is the only way to guarantee that the formatting will remain the same once the files are loaded onto the EBM. Please click here for more details on the necessary specifications for printing.

That said, if you've requested any of our page design services, then we will need a word processing document. A Microsoft Word document (".doc") or a Rich Text file (".RTF") are preferred.

How many pages can my book be?
As short as 40 pages (though we recommend at least 50 to achieve a better bind), or as long as 800 pages. For our purposes, a page refers to one PDF page (one PDF page = one book page), not one sheet of paper. There are two book pages to each sheet of paper, one on each side. Your bookblock PDF should be laid out accordingly: there should be no double-page spreads or signatures.

How do I determine my final page count?
Your final page count will be the total number of pages in your PDF document. Your page count is not limited to the paginated section of your book, but rather includes everything in the document (blank pages, dedications, about the author pages, etc.).

How big can my files be?
The maximum file size that can be uploaded to the EBM is 600 MB. That said, we urge you to make your files as small as you can. Larger files take longer to print, which means it will take longer for us to get your books to you.

Who decides the book layout and format? What’s available?
You do! The EBM does not require pre-determined templates to produce a good book, so your book can look and feel the way you'd like it. Refer to our Formatting and Files page to learn about the minimum and maximum size limits.

If the idea of figuring it all out on your own seems a bit overwhelming, we can do the interior page design as well as the exterior cover design for you. Interior page design is based on the total word count of your document, and we have several different types of cover design packages to choose from. Please see our Pricing page for a list of the services we offer, and visit our Design Services page for an explanation of what we offer.

How do I determine the finished trim size of my book?
The same answer is true here: we leave it in your hands. There are no pre-set trim sizes for printing on the EBM, so your options are infinitely flexible between the minimum and maximum size limitations. The smallest book we can print is 4.5" x 5" (width x height), and the largest is 8" x 10.5", meaning you can choose any trim size between those two extremes. Note that longer books (referring to the total number of pages) have some limitations for trim size; if you have a large book (600 or more pages), please consult with us so that we can determine if the sizing is printable or not. Some standard paperback trim sizes are 6" x 9" or 5" x 8". Grab a ruler and try browsing a bookshelf to find a size you like.

Can the EBM print photos or illustrations?
Yes, the EBM can print images on the cover as well as in the interior pages. All images will print in black and white on the inside of the book. The cover, however, can print in full colour. The print quality depends on the quality of the images you use. We recommend images be 300 dpi for the best print quality.

Why can’t I have color pages on the inside of my book?
The printer that produces the interior pages can only print in black and white. At this time we are not able to offer color options for the interior of your book. 

What type of paper stock can I have my interior pages printed on?
We currently offer three options for interior paper stock, both 60 pound archival quality paper. One is a full bright white, one an antique cream-coloured tone, and one a classic ivory tone. We recommend one or the other for different purposes: the bright white is often better for photo or design books, whereas the cream or ivory can be easier on the eyes for a novel. But in the end, the choice is yours. You may browse sample books in our store to determine which stock paper you prefer.

What type of stock can I have my cover printed on?
We use a .10 mil Photo Paper coverstock with a satin finish and Colorlok technology. This particular stock allows us to produce book covers with high-quality images and bright colors.

I'm having trouble formatting my book and designing my cover, can you help?
Yes! We offer a wide range of design services, including interior page design (also known as 'interior formatting') and exterior cover design. Please click here for a complete description of our available packages.

I need someone to edit my book, do you help with that?
No, not directly. But we do have a list of local, professional freelance editors who are willing and able to help you with copy and stylistic editing. Please contact us or visit us in store to pick up a list.

How do I create my book files?
Please see our Formatting and Files page. If you have further questions specific to your project, feel free to contact us and we’ll do our best to help.

How do I calculate my spine width?
To calculate your spine width, you’ll need your page count (pages in the document, remember, not paper pages) and the PPI (page per inch) of the paper you’re using. The PPI value for our standard ivory & white papers is 434. The formula for calculating spine width is: number of pages ÷ PPI = spine width in inches (So the spine width for a 250-page book printed on our standard paper would be 250 ÷ 434 = 0.576”)

How do I convert my files to PDFs?
Often it's as simple as choosing a PDF file extension when using "Save As" in your word processing software. See our Formatting and Files page, specifically our DIY Formatting Guide, for details.

(ISBNs, copyrights, etc.)

Can I use a pen name?
Certainly. But please make it something outlandish and fun. There's nothing worse than a mundane secret.


What is an ISBN?
To learn more about ISBNs, visit click here.

Do I need an ISBN to print my book?
You do not need an ISBN to have your book printed on the EBM, but having one might be useful depending on what you plan to do with your book. If you are printing your work for personal use only, then an ISBN is unnecessary. If you plan to print and sell your book (through other stores or websites) then you may need one. 

Can I buy an ISBN from McNally Robinson?
Yes. Please see our Pricing page for the current price of getting an ISBN. While we're on the subject, note that our McNally Premier Self-Publishing Package comes with an ISBN and bar code at no additional charge!

I already have my own ISBN for my book, can I use it?
Yes. However, it must be an ISBN you've purchased directly from the Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS), not one purchased through another self-publishing service (just as our ISBNs may only be used on books printed with us, CreateSpace's ISBNs may only be used on books printed with them).


Who controls the copyright of my book?
You do! That is one of the great merits of self-publishing. To learn more about Canadian Copyright Law, visit this site.

If you'd like to register your copyright with the Government of Canada, we can provide the necessary paperwork. Submitting the paperwork and paying the required fee will be left up to you.


Will I need to submit my book to the National Archive of Canada?
If you're getting your book printed for personal use (meaning that you do not intend to sell it, either with McNally Robinson or any other retailer), then no, you do not need to submit a copy to the National Archive. However, if you're planning to sell your book, then yes, you will need to submit a copy to the National Archive. Essentially, if your book is registered with an ISBN the National Archive requires that you send them a copy of your book. This is referred to as a legal deposit, and is mandatory for all books published in Canada. We leave this procedure up to you, the author. We can, however, provide you with more details and the necessary paperwork.

For more information on legal deposit with Library and Archives Canada, click here.


Do I need to submit my book anywhere else?
The Legislative Library of Manitoba requests that a copy of each book made in Manitoba is submitted to them. This is not mandatory, but it helps the Library collect and maintain the published heritage of Manitoba. You can visit the Legislative Library's website for more details, and contact them directly about submitting your book.

Can I sell my book at McNally Robinson Booksellers?
Yes! We'd be more than happy to sell your book. We offer a consignment program to make it happen—in fact, our two Self-Publishing setup packages include consignment contracts at no additional charge, and we offer perks to authors who've had their book(s) printed with us. Please see our Consignment and Book Launches page for more details.


How is the retail book of my price set?
You set your own retail price, as high or as low as you want (so long as it covers the cost of printing the book).


(how to make it happen)

Where do I start?
Take a look at our self-publishing timeline to get an idea of how the process works from start to finish.


Should I email you my files?
Yes! If you've read our Formatting and Files page and are ready to get started, send them along. We'll get back to you within three business days (often sooner). If your files are ready to go, slotting you in for your proof or your initial copies can usually happen pretty quickly; if we check your files and realize they still need some work, we'll let you know.


I'm not sure my files are ready. Should I email you anyway?
Yes. We are always happy to start a conversation, and to answer any questions you might have while you're preparing your files.


What other options, besides email, do I have for submitting my files?
If you want to come visit us at the store, you can bring them on a USB device or CD. We can also receive files via websites designed for purpose of file transfer, such as If you're dropping off your files in person and would like us to look at them while you're there, we require you to first arrange an appointment. Please email us for details or to schedule a meeting.

When is the Self-Publishing department available to answer my questions or meet for an appointment?
Our self-publishing department shares the same hours as the bookstore, however we do not always have a self-publishing staff member available during bookstore business hours. Therefore if you'd like to meet with us, it's imperative you make an appointment ahead of time. Email is generally the best way to reach us:

Do I have to make an appointment?
Yes. Due to the large number of queries we receive and the amount of work that needs to be done on current projects, we can no longer accept walk-ins. By setting up an appointment with us we can give you our undivided attention in answering your questions and discussing your printing options. Call or email us to schedule an appointment.


I don't live near Winnipeg, or even in Manitoba. Is it still possible to get my books printed with McNally Robinson?
Yes! Our operations are based in our Winnipeg (Grant Park) store, but we can set things up with you over the phone or through email, then ship the books to you once they're ready. We have done this for clients all over Canada -- Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C., Quebec, and even in distant rural Manitoba towns. Contact us today to get the process started.