Does Your Book Look Professionally Produced? Publishing Industry Standards Every Author Needs to Know

By Chris Olsen

In this two-part series, I address publishing industry standards every author needs to know about content and production, as defined by the Independent Book Publishers Association. This article outlines production.

Why Industry Standards Matter

Industry standards are guidelines that help ensure products and services are fit for their intended purpose. While publishing industry standards continue to evolve, some practices have existed for hundreds of years. Consumers tend to gravitate toward titles from traditional publishers because they know what to expect—these publishers established many of the guidelines centuries ago and continue to follow them consistently.

On the other hand, readers and sellers of books may shy away from titles published by the author or independently because they do not meet industry standards or measure up in quality.

Production Standards

Book production includes the overall look and feel of the book. There are specific standards for cover design and interior layout, which are outlined here. Though other print book elements like paper, ink and binding are part of production, and authors need to consider them as well, those guidelines are less specific and not included on the list. Generally, books that meet publishing industry standards are printed on quality paper and feature a durable binding.

Use this checklist to ensure your book meets industry standards:

Front cover

  • Legible title, subtitle and author name
  • Clear images and colors that fit the book’s genre


  • Legible title, subtitle (optional) and author name
  • Publishing company name and/or logo

Back cover

  • Endorsements (optional)
  • Publishing company name and/or logo
  • BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) subject heading
  • ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
  • EAN-13 barcode and price


  • Professional design
  • Legible fonts with appropriate leading and kerning
  • Consistent formatting and treatment of special characters
  • Appropriate margins and trim size

For guidelines on content, read “Does Your Book Content Measure Up? Publishing Industry Standards Every Author Needs to Know.”

About the Author

Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.