Frequently Asked Questions

Designing Your Book

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You'll learn what to expect when you submit your story. We'll walk through our evaluation process and image requirements, as well as how we lay out your book and arrange custom illustrations.

Content Evaluation

Content evaluation is the process in which Balboa Press assesses your manuscript to ensure that it meets our standards for publishing. We review manuscripts and materials for copyright, libel and content that contains sex and/or drug paraphernalia.

We perform content evaluations on all books to maintain a standard of publishing for our authors’ work and to identify areas in your manuscript that could potentially put you at copyright and/or libel risk. 

The duration of your content evaluation can fluctuate depending on the length and subject matter of your book, as well as the number of other manuscripts we have queued for evaluation.

We review manuscripts and materials for:

  • Text and images which are not created and/or owned by the author
  • Statements or information which reveal private information about a living person and/or could negatively reflect a living person’s reputation
  • Content that includes sex and drug paraphernalia

Follow these general guidelines to help ensure that your manuscript and materials meet our evaluation standards:

Copyright and Original Content

  • At least 75 percent of your book’s content must be original and created by you.
  • Quoted poetry and song lyric content cannot be longer than eight lines.
  • Quoted article content can be no longer than three sentences or 10 percent of the article.
  • Quoted book content can be no longer than 500 words.

Libel and Privacy

To avoid libel and protect the privacy of living people referenced in your book, you must:

  • Change or remove the author’s name and/or the names of people referenced in the manuscript or materials.
  • Change or remove the names of locations, businesses, organizations, educational establishments, etc. where the events in the manuscript and/or materials take place.
  • Remove images (including front and back cover images) that reveal the identification of people or locations referenced in the manuscript and/or materials.

U.S. Copyright protection attaches immediately and automatically as soon as you fix the work in question in a tangible form. That tangible form might be a printed manuscript, but computer disks (or even your computer hard drive) can also be considered tangible forms. Registering a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office creates a public record of the basic information of your book.

U.S. Copyright protection is secured upon creation of your work and provides you the right to stop another person from using your work without permission. U.S. Copyright registration is secured when material is officially registered with the U.S. government. Having your material officially registered with the U.S. Copyright office allows you to take legal action to recover a monetary value if someone uses your work illegally.

No. A citation will not protect you in a court of law in a U.S. Copyright case. You must obtain and keep written permission from the U.S. Copyright holder.

In most cases, any picture, material, text, information, quote, map, song or illustration that you personally did not create is U.S. Copyright protected by the person who created and/or published the material. Any text or pictures found in a book, magazine or newspaper is U.S. Copyright protected by the publisher, artist, photographer or another individual. Most information found on the Internet is U.S. Copyright protected.

In order to obtain permission, you can contact the original U.S. Copyright holder and explain what work you wish to use and for what purpose. In order to not be held liable in a lawsuit you must request and obtain written permission from the copyright holder to use the material in publication.


NOTE: These content guidelines set forth our aspirations for your work. Not all of these guidelines are strict requirements for publication. Please note that while BalboaPress may review your work and may suggest or require that you comply with one or more of these guidelines, any review that BalboaPress conducts is being done solely and exclusively for its internal purposes. You may not rely on any review by BalboaPress of your work, any results we may share with you or your acceptance of any changes suggested or required by BalboaPress for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, as confirmation that your work (a) complies with these Content Guidelines; (b) does not violate any applicable laws or regulations; or (c) does not infringe upon the rights of any third parties. If you have questions regarding your work's compliance with applicable laws and regulations, such as copyright laws, rights of privacy and publicity, and libel/defamation, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for such legal advice


Fair Use is a principle of U.S. copyright law that permits limited quotation from another work without that author's permission.

  • Fair Use analysis can be complicated, but an essential element is that the quoted material be used in a “transformative” way, i.e., that it be reworked by the quoting author into something new and original. Comment on or criticism of a work is an example of a transformative use of a work, but even comment or criticism of a particular work does not necessarily justify copying an entire work. A use is not “transformative” where it is being used simply for itself, or because you like it, or where your work could end up serving as a substitute or replacement for the original source.
  • There is a popular misconception that any quotation of fewer than 500 words (or 350, or 400, etc., depending on the source from which it is taken) qualifies as Fair Use. This will obviously not be the case where the quote is taken from a poem, a song or another short work (such as a children’s book) that may not be much more than 500 words in total. In other words, quantity of the material quoted is just one factor. Also important is the quality of the quoted material, i.e., whether it is the heart of the original work. Thus, while it generally will be Fair Use to quote just a few hundred words from a 400-page book, in one famous case involving a presidential memoir, a quotation of a few hundred words was held to be an infringement because it related to one of the book’s most spectacular – and most marketable – revelations.
  • Song lyrics and poetry are more problematic, not only because of their shorter length (which makes any quotation a more substantial taking), but also because under the quality test, even a brief quotation could go to the heart of the material. For example, one could argue that “not with a bang but a whimper” is not just one line of the 100-line poem “Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, but the essence of the poem. (With regard to song lyrics, be forewarned, too, that music publishers tend to take an aggressive posture, and demand licensing fees even for uses that clearly qualify as Fair Use.)
  • Another factor is the nature of the work using the quotation. Non-fiction works have more Fair Use latitude than fiction simply because it is easier to show a “transformative” aspect in a non-fiction work. Nonetheless, an appropriate use of material in fiction can qualify as Fair Use.
  • Epigraphs used as chapter headings and sidebars generally will not qualify as transformative, except where there is a strong thematic connection between the quotation and the chapter subject matter. As a practical consideration, a line or two from a long book is unlikely to draw complaint. But an epigraph consisting of a line or two of poetry or song lyrics should be avoided (unless you get permission for the use or the poem was first published before 1923).
  • There is very little Fair Use allowed for unpublished works, such as letters, journals and diaries.
  • Quotations from unpublished sources should be avoided if at all possible and, if absolutely necessary, such quotations should be sparing in both length and total quantity, and should have a clear commentary/criticism purpose or a strong “transformative” character.
    • If a quotation does not qualify as Fair Use, it is necessary to obtain permission from the rights proprietor. The rights proprietor is the person or entity controlling the right to license the particular use requested. The rights proprietor and the copyright owner may be – but are not necessarily – the same. For example, the typical book-publishing agreement provides that the copyright will be registered in the author’s name, but that the publisher will control the licensing of certain uses, included the quotation of excerpts and abridgments and anthologies. So, in the case of quotations from published books, the publisher of the book is a good place to start to find out how to seek permission; most publishers have permissions departments set up for this very purpose.
    • In identifying the proprietor, please keep the following in mind:
  1. Ownership of the physical copy of a work such as a letter or a photo or a painting is not the same as ownership of the copyright for that work. You cannot assume that a university library that serves as a repository for someone’s papers, for example, has the power to authorize reproduction or quotation. In fact, the library will not have that power unless the rights proprietor has explicitly given the library that power by way of a separate agreement. (Sometimes an archive will require the researcher to sign an agreement before allowing access to the documents in its possession. Such an agreement might impose restrictions on use beyond those in the Copyright Act, which even can restrict the use of public-domain material. You should keep copies of all such agreements that you sign.) (Incidentally, availability of a letter is available in a library’s archives does not mean that the letter has been published before; if you don’t find the letter in a book or a magazine or some other publication, you should assume that it is an unpublished letter.) 

    Similarly, the recipient of a letter owns only the physical copy of that letter; the copyright in the letter itself remains with the person who wrote the letter. In other words, the mere fact that someone received a letter from a famous person, does not give that person the right to publish that letter. In the same vein, the owner of a painting or photograph ordinarily will not have the right to authorize reproduction of the image. Even family photos can be a problem. For the reasons stated above, the fact that the photo is in a family album does not mean that the family can authorize reproduction of the image. For example, the copyright in a professional photo – e.g., a graduation or wedding picture – usually remains with the photographer. Likewise, if taken by a relative or friend, the relative or friend would have to give permission.
  2. Under the Copyright Act, periodicals (and similar works comprised of the contributions of different authors) do not have the right to license use of individual articles. Unless the author’s contribution agreement with the periodical expressly gives it that authority, the author controls the right to license such uses. The more prominent periodicals do have such contribution agreements with their writers, however, and thus contacting the periodical first still is a good way to start to find the person who can grant permission.
  3. By operation of several international agreements ratified by the U.S. in the last 15 years, some foreign works long in the public domain (e.g., by writers from the former Soviet Union) have been restored to copyright. Identifying the copyright proprietor can be difficult, in particular when the proprietor was a now-defunct government agency. The fact that you may have tried to find the proprietor and failed, however, is not a defense to a copyright infringement claim.
  4. The widespread dissemination of material on the Internet sometimes gives the impression that it is free for the taking. In fact, many of these sites reproduce copyrighted text and images without permission. One therefore should not assume that anything copied from the Internet is public domain. It still is necessary to determine whether the material is copyrighted, and if so, to identify the rights proprietor and obtain permission. The format and appearance of websites may also be copyright- protected, and therefore requires permission to use.
  5. Images of newspapers are copyright-protected, in addition to the actual text of the articles. Even if the text is not legible, the overall format and appearance of the newspaper is often protected and requires permission to use in your work.
  6. Maps, clip art, cartoons, advertisements, and comic book characters are also copyright-protected and require permission to use in your work.
  7. The use of material from the Bible and the permissions required often depends upon the version of the Bible you are using, the amount and nature of the material quoted, as well as the amount of original material in your work. You must research the rules of the publishing company to determine what is Fair Use and what requires permission to use.
  • A special warning regarding permissions to use photographs: ordinarily, the license will cover only the right to reproduce the image itself. It might be necessary also to obtain separate model releases from individuals appearing in the photograph, especially if you plan to use the image on the cover of your book. In certain circumstances, if a building is depicted, permission even might be required from the owner of the copyright in the architectural plans.
  • Works in the Public Domain. Works that have entered the public domain are not protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright and fair use rules. Any works created and published before January 1, 1923 are in the public domain and can be used without the proprietor's permission. However, BalboaPress will not publish a work that contains less than 75% original content, meaning we will not publish public domain works unless you have added significantly to that work.
  • To assist in your self-assessment of whether the use of the ideas or words of others in your work is permissible, you may consult the US Copyright Service’s Fair Use Index. If you have further questions regarding your use of another's words or ideas, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for legal advice.


  • In general, the content of your work may be libelous if it contains a false statement of fact about another person that is defamatory. A defamatory statement is one that injures a person's reputation, exposes a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule or injures his or her business or profession. For example:
    • A false statement that accuses a person of a crime;
    • A false statement that a person has an infectious or contagious disease, or a mental disease or defect;
    • A false statement that a person is impotent or unchaste; or
    • A false statement that alleges that a person is not qualified to perform his or her job due to lack of skill, education, character, trustworthiness, etc.
  • While there may be certain exceptions or defenses that apply to your work, IT IS ALWAYS YOUR SOLE RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT YOUR WORK DOES NOT, TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE, CONTAIN, ANY LIBELOUS MATERIAL. If you have questions about whether your work may contain material that is potentially libelous, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for legal advice.


  • We reserve the right to reject a work that contains any of the following:
    • Hate speech or any speech that incites violence or attacks, threatens, intimidates, or disparages individuals or groups based on attributes such as race, sex, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits
    • Explicit and salacious or graphic descriptions of sexual situations
    • Explicit descriptions of sexual situations involving individuals under the age of 18
    • References to or descriptions of beastiality
    • Any other content that BalboaPress determines, in its sole discretion, that the publication or distribution of which may injure its reputation or subject it to public disapproval.
  • We reserve the right to reject a proposed book cover that contains images reflecting any of the following:
    • Nudity of any sort
    • Logos or registered trademarks
    • Celebrities or famous individuals
    • Posters from movies, plays, concerts or other events
    • Drugs or drug paraphernalia
    • Actual currency
  • We reserve the right to reject a work that contains representations or images of male or female genitalia if they reasonably can be included in one of the following categories:
    • Overly or gratuitously sexual in nature
    • Salacious depiction of any nature
    • Depiction of what could reasonably appear to be an individual under the age of 18
  • Representations or images of male or female genitalia on the interior pages of your work are acceptable if they reasonably can be included in one of the following categories:
    • Valid, medically-related content
    • Commonly recognized works of art
    • Non-salacious photographs
    • Non-salacious artwork
    • Non-salacious instruction manuals


Autobiography/Memoir: Without written and notarized permission from the person, entity or legal guardians of the person mentioned, we reserve the right to reject a work that contains any of the following:

  • False statements of fact that could harm the reputation of any identifiable living persons, companies or other entities
  • False statement either of a fact or implication that an identifiable, living person (aside from the author him or herself):
    • Committed a crime or was convicted of committing a crime
    • Engaged in unethical conduct
    • Engaged in immoral sexual conduct
    • Associated with unsavory people
    • Demonstrated professional incompetence
    • Demonstrated financial irresponsibility or unreliability
    • Acted disgracefully
    • Suffered from a mental disease or disorder
  • Embarrassing private facts about any identifiable, living persons
  • Statements about an identifiable, living person that would lead that person to have hurt feelings because certain thoughts and feelings are attributed to that person or the person is put in a false light
  • References to an identifiable, living child that state as fact or by implication that the child was:
    • Sexually abused
    • Otherwise physically abused
    • The victim of a crime
    • Adopted

Biography: Where the subject of a biography is a living person, we reserve the right to require written and notarized permission from the subject of the biography and/or from any living persons (or their guardians) and any legal entities mentioned therein. If the subject of the biography is clearly a famous person or a public figure, written permission may not be required, though permission from non-famous people mentioned therein may still be required.

Self-help / Textbook / Politics and History: You must provide proper citations where applicable

Translated Books: You must provide written and notarized permission from the owner of the copyright of the book in its original language in order to publish a translation of a book originally published in another language.

Endorsements: If you wish to include an endorsement or other statement about your book written by a person other than yourself, you must provide written permission to use the statement from that individual

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Custom Illustrations

One of the advantages of self-publishing is that you maintain total control of the content in your book, you are the owner and the director. And as such, it is your responsibility to supply us with the ideas and concepts for your illustrations. No one knows your story and its characters and settings better than you. If you have questions about the RAD form, please contact your Illustration Coordinator for assistance.

Your Illustration Coordinator handles all communication surrounding your illustration project and acts as a liaison between you and your illustrator.

It all depends on the length of the manuscript. A more effective way for the illustrator to reference a manuscript with more than 3,000 words is for the you to highlight or pull excerpts from your manuscript for the illustrator to use as a resource for creating the art.

Company policy dictates that all changes to illustrations must be submitted in writing. We accept written changes through email, attachments via email, by fax, or through traditional mail. These should be addressed and sent directly to your Illustration Coordinator.

1) Once we receive your completed RAD form, it is reviewed by the Art Director and assigned to the artist who best fits your project parameters.
2) Within two to three weeks, you will receive copies of your initial sketches for your review. (This is the best time to make revisions to your illustrations.)
3) If you request revisions to sketches, your project is put back into a queue in the order it was received and will take two weeks for completion. (You are limited to two rounds of complimentary revisions at sketch stage.) Sketch revisions are limited, depending on the complexity and time required to make such changes. For example, changing the length of a character’s hair or adding or deleting a character or item in a scene constitutes reasonable sketch revisions. Starting over with a completely new concept does not, and is considered a brand new illustration, and you will incur a one-hour charge to completely create an entirely new sketch.
4) Once we receive your approval to go to final art, it will then take approximately four weeks to complete your final illustrations.
5) You will then receive copies of your completed illustrations for review. You will be required to sign an approval form for us to move you on to book production. (You are limited to one round of complimentary color revisions at final art stage.) If you want to make revisions to final art beyond color modifications, you will incur additional charges to make those changes or may be required to purchase a completely new illustration. We reserve the right to make that determination based on your requested changes.

On average, your illustration project will be completed in six to 12 weeks. However, more time may be needed as deemed necessary by the artist, Art Director, and/or you, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Creating custom artwork can be a very complex and time-consuming process and we want to ensure that the end product is of the highest quality for our authors.

The illustration process is separate from the production of the galley and cover, and those stages will begin once your illustrations have been completed and approved.

The purchase of Rapid Release services is only relevant to the interior production of your book, and does not apply to illustration timelines.

Unless you want a different artist and different style of illustrations for each of your books, it is our current policy to work on one book at a time. This minimizes confusion for both the author and the illustrator and maximizes the quality and consistency of the illustrations from one to book to the next.

  • Custom Cover Design is included in the price of the standard publishing contract and is designed by one of our graphic designers using images and/or photographs either from our stock image site or with author-supplied images. Since stock images are available for purchase by multiple users, there is a chance that a stock image used on your cover will appear in some other print media. (Your Custom Cover can be designed using up to two images from our stock image site, free of charge. Additional images may be purchased as needed.) As an alternative to the Custom Cover Design, you are permitted to use any of the illustrations we have created for the interior of your book on your cover.
  • Custom Cover Illustration is an “add on” service that may be purchased in addition to the standard publishing package. It is an original work of art created exclusively for you by one of our in-house illustrators and will never be used by or sold to anyone else for use.

  • Personalized Illustrations - Illustrations are drawn by hand and consist of simple, clean line art (similar to coloring book art) and then colored digitally with one-dimensional solid colors. Contains no shading or highlights. This service is available for both black and white and color books.
  • Fine Detail Illustrations - Illustrations are drawn by hand and consist of medium-detail line art and then colored digitally with some minimal shading and highlighting for a bit more of a three-dimensional look. This service is available for both black and white and color books.
  • Intricate Design Illustrations - Art is created by hand with a higher level of detail in the line art and has high levels of shading, highlighting, and blending for a three-dimensional look. This is the only level where the art can be colored either digitally or with a watercolor or colored pencil look. This service is available for color books only.
  • Custom Quote Illustrations - For authors who are looking for highly rendered illustrations above and beyond our Intricate Design Service. These illustrations include hand-drawn or painted art in any one of these media: Acrylics, highly detailed watercolors and very detailed pastels or charcoal and any type of three-dimensional Disney Pixar level of detail. This is a special product offering that requires a custom quote by our Art Director prior to the sale of these services.

"Premium" denotes the amount of services included in the packages. Not all premium packages include illustrations, but the two that do include only Personalized Illustrations. You do have the option to purchase an upgrade to the Fine Detail and Intricate Design illustrations. Your publishing consultant can assist you in that transaction.

  • Juvenile/Whimsical: Very sweet, cute styles.
    Some examples of these styles would include Dora the Explorer, Arthur the Aardvark, Winnie the Pooh and Fancy Nancy. This category and Cartoon/Humor can sometimes overlap. (Examples would be some of the Disney art or Olivia the Pig. This style of art can be cute and whimsical, yet sort of humorous.)
  • Cartoon/Humor: Humorous and funny.
    Some examples of this style would include Looney Toons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc), Hanna Barbera (The Flintstones, Scooby-Doo etc.) or Spongebob Squarepants. Caricatures would fall under this category too.
  • Fantasy Style: This style would be more of a mythical-type style.
    Examples would include superhero/comic books (Superman, Batman, etc.), Manga, Dungeons and Dragons, or even Harry Potter book cover art.
  • Science Fiction: Star Wars, X-Men, and Transformers.
  • Naturalistic: Reproducing a simple likeness or similar characteristics of people, objects or animals or actual historical events, etc. Closer to a more realistic rendition.

A single illustration that spans from one page across the fold to the facing page as a continuous scene is known as a "double page spread." A double page spread constitutes two illustrations, and must be purchased as such.

Illustration services that are part of a package cannot be exchanged for other publishing services.

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Image Formatting

A book cover is extremely important to your book especially when you consider how many books are published each year and the choices readers have. This large selection means it is difficult for new or unknown authors to break into the book market. Even if your book is outstanding, you still need to draw readers in with an outstanding cover or they may never notice your book.

Your cover is important because it must capture the reader’s attention, but it must also convince the reader to part with their money and actually buy your book. The higher the quality of your cover the more likely it will stand out to consumers, therefore the more likely they are to buy it. A professional-looking cover is also necessary in marketing, especially if you plan to promote your book or push to have it reviewed professionally. First impressions and opinions of your book are formed instantly from the cover and impact whether or not a reviewer, reader or consumer invests time or money in your book.

Yes. Our top-notch designers are happy to work with you to give you the cover of your dreams. The sky is the limit when it comes to designing a cover for you. Depending on your package you may have a standard cover or an enhanced cover. Both will give you design options, but the enhanced cover will give you more stock image and design options.

The best place to start when it comes to thinking about your book cover is a bookstore or a library. Make note of what catches your eye on other book covers. Think about elements such as colors, themes, fonts and always, what your target audience would be attracted to. While you are at the bookstore or library keep your genre in mind as well. Your cover design should not stray too far from other books in your genre, but you still want it to stand out enough to draw attention to your book. The cover of your book should reflect characters from your story or themes that unfold throughout the book. Give readers a sneak peek at what they can expect from your book, but don’t give too much away. Don’t try to cram too much onto the cover of the book; it should be balanced and simple, not busy and distracting.

Color is also important to remember when designing your cover. Warm colors, such as red, orange and yellow tend to be high-arousal colors that stimulate the senses while cool colors, such as blue, green and purple cause feelings of relaxation and calmness. The intensity of your colors can also convey specific ideas and/or themes.

When designing your front cover don’t forget about your back cover too. The front cover is meant to inspire people to pick up your book while the back cover will tell them what they can expect from the book. Most people spend twice as long reviewing the back cover than they do looking at the front cover, so the back cover is critical for book sales. You shouldn’t tell the whole story on the back, just give enough details to give the reader an idea of what your book is about.

CMYK and RGB are two different color modes that describe how colors are created. RGB stands for red, green and blue. RGB uses light to produce color: the more illuminated light involved, the lighter the image. RGB produces the widest range of color. RGB colors are typically used on computer monitors, digital cameras and televisions – any device that uses light to produce an image.

CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. This category of color uses the combination of ink pigments to produce color. The less ink used, the lighter the image; the more ink used, the darker the image. Printing projects typically use the CMYK color category.

The biggest difference between CMYK and RGB is that the “gamut” or range between the two color subsets does not always overlap. Both CMYK and RGB contain a specific and complete subset of colors within the entire color spectrum. There are colors that are created on a computer screen in RGB that cannot be reproduced when physically printed out in CMYK. Therefore, colors could be lost in translation from computer screen to print.

Use CMYK color mode, not RGB to create your cover design. We do have the capability to convert a file from RGB to CMYK, but the colors will not look like the original design you created and it will cost you an extra fee. In order to have the best control over the end product of your cover, use CMYK color mode because it is the mode used by our printer.

The number of pages in your book determines the width of the spine. We will calculate and adjust the spine width for you.

No, our printer does not allow any text or pictures printed inside the cover.

People can buy your book in hardcover if you purchased a package that includes a hardcover format. Our hardcover books are available in your choice of two formats: glossy casebound or dust jacket. The casebound option features a full-color glossy cover image adhered directly to the cover. The dust jacket option features a blue cloth cover with an embossed spine and a full-color dust jacket with flaps. The full-color dust jacket allows us to print your author biography and a description of your book on the inside flaps, freeing up the back cover to print reviews and endorsements.

When you approve your cover, you state that the proof copy of your cover is exactly as you wish for it to appear in the published version of your book. Be sure to carefully check all aspects of the design such as: front, back and spine text (double check everything is spelled correctly including your name – don’t assume that will automatically be correct), font style and size, illustrations, colors, captions, paragraph layout, images and indents.

Because of the differences between CMYK and RGB color modes it is possible for some slight color variation to occur from the version approved online. The colors may also vary slightly from print to print due to the method of printing and the individual print runs.

We wish we could, but we cannot guarantee color matching on printing. Several factors affect how a color looks from printer to printer and computer monitor to computer monitor.

First, every computer monitor is different. The brand of computer monitor and adjustable color settings that alter the brightness and contrast of your monitor create an inconsistency of colors between computer screen and printer.

Secondly, colors appear different when they are printed versus how they are displayed on a monitor. This happens because monitors create color using light, while a printer creates color using ink. Other factors also play a role, like the difference in a monitor and printer’s mechanics and range of colors it can accommodate. (See the FAQ about the difference between CMYK and RGB colors for more information)

Lastly, individual devices do not speak the same language. A camera, scanner, monitor and printer all “talk” about color differently, using different ink formulas and values. They do not necessary use the same values or measures to record or describe a color.

One suggestion is to try a variety of printers and screens to see possible variations in printing. Do not completely rely on one source when viewing an image. Since our printer prints in CMYK color, is it best to view and print your cover images in CMYK, not RGB to get a more precise idea about what your finished cover version will look like. If you use extremely bright reds, yellow or blues, they will appear slightly more subdued because they are not included in the CMYK range.

Additionally, because we use print-on-demand technology and do not print mass quantities of your book at one time, covers and images can vary from book to book, print to print. Factors such as toner levels, variations in the mechanics of the printing press on a given day and variations in paper can create slight differences in each book cover.

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General Book Formatting

Yes, you can publish your book in English or Spanish. 

No, you cannot include links to images in your manuscript.

The title page can be located in two different places depending on your personal tastes. It can go on the first page when you open the cover of your book or on the third page of your book facing the second right-facing page. The title page includes your book’s title, subtitle (if applicable) and your name/pen name.

A table of contents lists the chapters and/or sections with the page number of the beginning of that chapter. A table of contents is most useful and more commonly found in a non-fiction book, reference book or other very lengthy book because people tend to skip around more and look for needed information.

When reading a novel readers are less likely to skip around and more likely to read the book straight from front to back. Be careful if you do decide to include a table of contents in a novel that the chapter titles do not give away the plotline. You may consider just naming your chapters only as “Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.” instead of with chapter names.

Images can be included in your book. We suggest using a high resolution image of 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher at the size you would like for it to appear in the book. (We cannot accept a book with any images less than 150 DPI.) It is in your best interest to use high resolution images in your book in order to achieve a professional appearance.

Also, make sure that you have the permission to use the image if you personally did not take the picture or create the image. If you do not have permission to use an image, you should not place it in the book.


ve control over what you want in this section. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, here is the general order of front matter: 1) Half title page (just the title), 2) series title, list of contributors, frontispiece or blank page, 3) Title page, 4) Copyright page, 5) Dedication page or epigraph, 6) Table of Contents, 7) List of Illustrations, 8) List of Tables, 9) Foreword, 10) Preface, 11) Acknowledgements (if not part of the preface), 12) Introduction (if not part of the text), 13) List of abbreviations or chronology.

The beginning of your book, or "front matter," consists of the pages of information typically found before the main body text begins. You ultimately have control over what you want in this section. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, here is the general order of front matter: 1) Half title page (just the title), 2) series title, list of contributors, frontispiece or blank page, 3) Title page, 4) Copyright page, 5) Dedication page or epigraph, 6) Table of Contents, 7) List of Illustrations, 8) List of Tables, 9) Foreword, 10) Preface, 11) Acknowledgements (if not part of the preface), 12) Introduction (if not part of the text), 13) List of abbreviations or chronology.

We are happy to present you with suggestions for how to create a clean and professional layout. Having a consistently formatted manuscript means less work for you in the editing stage, less money you will spend having our designers format your book and a quicker turnaround time when it comes to getting your book published.

Consistency throughout the book is the most important thing you can remember in formatting. Consistency applies to things like font throughout the book, line spacing and justification, paragraph indents, spacing after punctuation, chapter headings, etc. Line spacing, font size and style should be consistent throughout the main body of the text, although bold or italics can vary. (However, it is best not to overuse bold, italics, or underlines, which can be very distracting to the reader).

Paragraph indentation may seem like a simple thing, but many authors do not consistently use the tab key to start a paragraph, choosing instead to press the space bar which causes inconsistent indentation. You may also prefer to have a space between each paragraph rather than an indentation.

With punctuation and other formatting choices, decide what you like and be consistent. For example, some authors like to use one space after punctuation that ends a sentence and some like to use two spaces. Consistency also applies to other punctuation styles, such as dashes, smart quotes or straight quotes, ellipses, etc. You can use the "find/replace" function in Microsoft Word to assist you in locating and changing these details so they are consistent.

No. The cover will be designed separately from the body of the manuscript during a different stage in the production process. Please see this FAQ about cover design.

There are several basics all books should have, plus optional pages you may want to include.

  • Every book should have a title page which lists the title of your book, subtitle (if applicable) and author name/pen name.
  • Every book must have a copyright page.
  • The first optional page is a dedication page, something many authors choose to include in their books. The dedication page is usually a simple sentence on an otherwise blank page that may say something like, “To my parents who always believed in me.” To be clear, the dedication page is different from the acknowledgements page, another page that usually thanks a longer list of people who made your book happen. You must make the final decision if you want to include one, both or none of these pages.
  • The second optional page is a table of contents. A table of contents lists the chapter names and/or page numbers on which the chapter can be found. This page is more often found in non-fiction books than fiction books. Be careful if you do include a table of contents in a fiction book that you do not give away the plotline of the book with the chapter names.
  • The final optional page is an “about the author” page. This page is most typically included after the main body of the text in your manuscript on one of the last pages of the book. This is also a good place to include a photograph of yourself if you so choose.

Retail websites, such as Apple’s iBooks Store, have the right to refuse to list your title on their website if your book description does not meet their requirements. You must follow the guidelines listed here in order to avoid any issues. 

Book Description Guidelines:

  1. No more than 2,000 characters, including spaces and punctuation
  2. No mention of competing websites or bookstores
  3. No reference to pricing
  4. No reference to print version add-ons (e.g., CD-ROM inside the book, etc.)
  5. Should describe the book, NOT the author or irrelevant topics
  6. Should be written in the book’s primary language (e.g., if the book is written in Spanish, then the description must be in Spanish too)
  7. Should be well edited and free of typos, spelling mistakes and grammar errors

Example of Incorrect Description:

Arnold Author is a retired professor and television writer who lived through the turbulent political drama detailed in this work of nonfiction. This is his sixth novel. Look for more titles by Author on starting at $9.99.

What’s Wrong in This Example 

  • Describes the author, not the book
  • Reference to pricing
  • Mention of competing website or bookstore

Example of Correct Description:

Award-winning writer Arnold Author recounts the turbulent political climate of 1960s Greentown in this gripping novel based on a true story. During this frightening period, two politically opposed individuals come together to stop an underground plot to overthrow the local government. There are two sides to every story; find out which side comes out on top in Love Liberated

We work hard to make sure your book can be made available for purchase through as many channels as possible.  If you have already published your book and wish to edit your About the Book section, simply log in to your Balboa Press account and click on the “Book Status” tab. Please contact your production team if you have any questions.

* Updating your book description does not guarantee that your book will be listed on any retail partner’s website.

We can only place color pictures in books being published with a Color book publishing package. We cannot place color pictures in any books published with our Core publishing packages. If you submit a color image for a black and white book, please be aware it will be printed in grayscale within your book. For Core package books we can accept color images for the front and back covers of your book.

The most common place to find credit information is on the lower section of the copyright page, below the publisher information. However, the placement of credit information may also depend on the copyright holders’ demands and your relationship with that person. However, many people wish to give more visible credit, especially if they have a close relationship with the copyright holder, such as a friend or relative, or if the individual is famous or well known.

Another factor to consider is how visible the work is throughout the book. For example, if the book contains an original photograph on almost every page the photographer credit should probably be more visible, perhaps on the cover or title page. On the other hand if there are only a few photographs throughout the book then a less visible credit, perhaps on the copyright page, is sufficient. For photographs and illustrations within the book, credit is also sometimes placed directly under the photograph or illustration in a small caption. Longer, more personal acknowledgements and/or credits can usually go in the front or back of the book. See an above FAQ for more information on front and back matter sequence.

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Technical Book Formatting

There are a variety of ways to determine an image's resolution and size. The best and most accurate way to check is by using an image viewing program. The steps to determine and adjust the resolution and size vary from program to program. For instance, in Adobe Photoshop, you can open an image in the program, then click on the "Image" dropdown menu, and select "Image size." When using Microsoft Office Picture Manager, you can look under "file" then "properties," or you can right-click the image and open "properties". If you are not using either of those programs with your images you can use the "help" function within the program you’re using to learn how to check the resolution and size of an image.

Another basic measure is the overall file size of your image. Not the physical size of the picture, but the size of the actual file. If your picture is around 500 KB or more, then your image is most likely high resolution. 1 MB or higher is preferred. But if the file is small, 10, 50 or 100 KB, then the resolution is most likely too low. If you're still not sure, try printing your image on paper. If it looks fuzzy or grainy, then it's probably low resolution.

We have access to thousands of fonts and will find the right one for your book. 

At this time, we can only print full-bleed images in our color books. We cannot print full-bleed images in our black and white books because all text and images must fit within the margins of your selected book size.

Most images from the Internet, another book, magazine or newspaper are copyright protected. You are required to get permission from the copyright owner to use the image in your book. If you have permission to use the image from a book or the Internet, then yes, you can use it in your book.

"ISBN" stands for "International Standard Book Number." It is a unique, 13-digit number assigned to each book published internationally. (ISBNs before January 1, 2007 were 10-digit numbers, but they switched to 13-digit numbers to allow more new ISBNs). The purpose of the ISBN is to establish and identify a title or edition of that title from a specific publisher. This allows for a more efficient mode of marketing and purchasing for retailers, libraries, universities, distributors and individual consumers.

Note: Receiving just your ISBN does not guarantee title listings. To ensure your titles get in the Books in Print database you must submit your title information to the official ISBN website.  

The numbers are specific to and identify four things: 1) Group identifier code, which groups nations and countries geographically that often share the same language, 2) Specific publisher identifier, 3) Title or specific edition of the title identifier, 4) Check number, which proves that the ISBN is authentic.

No. The ISBN is specific to the publisher. If you have an ISBN for your manuscript, it is still valid for the manuscript in an unpublished form. Once the book is published through Balboa Press it will need a new ISBN.

Our book designers will place the images for you in your book. We request that authors do not submit images embedded in their manuscripts because the text of your book and the images will be imported into the design program separately. Embedded images are automatically reduced in size and resolution and must be extracted and resized before they can be replaced separately back into your book. Image extraction incurs a fee for you and will lengthen the completion time for your book.

Therefore, we request that our authors submit each image in a separate, individual file by e-mail in a JPEG, TIFF or PDF format with a resolution of 300 DPI or higher. If your files are too large or you have too many, you are encouraged to send them on a CD or flash drive. Submitting original hard copy photographs or illustrations is not encouraged, unless it is an absolute last resort. Due to the high volume of materials we receive and process in our headquarters, we cannot assume responsibility for lost or damaged physical materials.

In order for our book designers to know which image is which, you must use a labeling system that is clear and signifies the order and placement of images within your book. For example, the first image to appear in your book should be labeled "01.jpg" "01.PDF" or A.tiff"; the second image in your book should be labeled "02.jpg" "02.PDF" or "B.tiff", and so on. Following this method ensures your images are placed by the book designer in the order you want them to appear and you can easily refer to each image by its label.

Placeholders are used instead of embedded images to signal where each image should be placed within your manuscript. When writing your manuscript, simply include a placeholder like [PLACE IMAGE HERE filename.jpg] in red font so your book designer can easily identify where to place the image you submitted separately following the instructions above. If you would like to include a caption or other instructions for your image, type them in within your image placeholder. Example: [PLACE IMAGE HERE 08.jpg CAPTION: Our wedding day, July 28, 2007.]

An ISBN is included with each Balboa Press publishing package. The ISBN will be inserted on the copyright page and on the back cover of the book with the bar code. The bar code is a digital image sellers can scan to identify the ISBN. Visit for more detailed information about ISBN.

Basically, resolution means the clarity and crispness of an image, which is measured in points or pixels per metric unit (inch, centimeter, etc.) Pixels are units of a single color and value that make up an image. The more pixels or dots in a set area, the smaller the dots are, the finer the detail and the higher the resolution. If the resolution is low, that means there are fewer pixels per inch, which means each pixel is automatically made larger. When the resolution is very low, you can actually see the blocky pixels - that's where the term "pixilated" originates.

A pixel's size is dependent on the size of the image and in relation to the density of pixels. Consider this scenario: two images of the exact same size are divided into squares. Each square can only represent one color and value and together they will be used to display the image. The first image is divided into 300 squares, and the second into 150 squares. As a result, the 300 squares in the first image are smaller than the 150 squares in the second image. Comparing this to resolution, the first image has a higher resolution than the second image because it has a greater number of smaller pixels.

However, resolution is not a set thing; it can change when the image size changes. Using the example above, imagine taking the first, high resolution image and enlarging the entire image to twice its original size. The number of squares, or pixels, remains the same (300), but the pixels themselves become larger to fill the larger area. It terms of resolution, this new larger format has lowered the resolution of the image. So what this means to you is that a high resolution image at one size can become a low resolution image at a larger size. Make sure that your images are high resolution at the size you want them to appear in your book.

We suggest using a high resolution image of 300 DPI (dots per inch) or higher at the size you want it to appear in the book. Any image less than 300 DPI will not look as clear as it could, but it can still be included in your book as long as the resolution is no less than 150 DPI. Depending on the degree of quality, an image less than 300 DPI will look grainy or blocky when printed, instead of crisp and clear. Therefore, it's in your best interest to use high resolution images in your book in order to achieve a professional appearance.

Balboa Press titles are printed using only high-quality paper and materials. We will help guide you through our publishing process to meet the technical requirements for a published book. But if you're curious, below are the general technical requirements for each book.

Page Count:

Softcover Black and White Interior:

5" x 8" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

5.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

6" x 9" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

7.5" x 9.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

8.25" x 11" book

  • minimum page requirement: 48 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

Hardcover Black and White Interior:

5.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement 108 pages
  • maximum page requirement 900 pages

6" x 9" book

  • minimum page requirement: 108 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 900 pages

(NOTE: By upgrading to the hardcover option, the softcover version of your book must also be in one of the available hardcover formats and must meet the 108 page minimum.)

Softcover Color Interior:

8.5" x 8.5" book

  • minimum page requirement: 24 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 480 pages

8.5" x 11" book

  • minimum page requirement: 24 pages
  • maximum page requirement: 480 pages

The last page of all books must be a blank, left facing page. We will add blank pages to the end of the book if necessary to meet these requirements.


Our black and white and color books are perfect bound, which is the standard binding style for most books. The pages are cut evenly and bound into the spine, which has a flat surface upon which text may be placed if the width is sufficient.

  • Black and white book binding requirements: Minimum of 48 pages for softcover. Minimum of 108 pages for hardcover (if applicable).
  • Color book binding requirements:  24 to 480 pages


All books must be formatted within the margins required for the book size of your choice. We will layout your manuscript to fit the margins during the production process. But if you happen to be formatting your own book, you can adjust the page lay out on a standard Microsoft® Word 8.5" x 11" document page. The margin requirements in Microsoft® Word are as follows:

5" x 8" and 5.5" x 8.5" book

  • Page size: 5" x 8" or 5.5" x 8.5"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5"

6" x 9" and 7.5" x 9.25" book

  • Page size: 6" x 9" or 7.5" x 9.25"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5"

8.25" x 11" book

  • Page size: 8.25" x 11"
  • Top margin: .75"
  • Bottom margin: .75"
  • Outside left and right margin: .5"
  • Gutter: .125"
  • Header/Footer: .5

*For color books, speak with your publishing consultant about margin sizes.

We source our book printing from a wide variety of book printers worldwide. We seek to print and ship as locally as possible to help minimize the timelines for receiving books while minimizing the shipping cost for your readers. Some of our paper specifications may vary based on the printing partner assigned to print your order. For Black and White books, our paper weight ranges from 50 to 55 lb. For Color books, our paper weight ranges from 60 to 70 lb. Cover stock used is typically 10 pt C1S.

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