Publication Prep

Is your book the right size?

Does size matter? Is there an ideal size to choose? Amazon KDP gives you a choice of book sizes – trim sizes and I’ve chosen 5.25 x 8 inches (13.34 x 20.32 cms). I chose this size because I like a book that will fit in my small shoulder bag. Don’t like books that are too big to fit into it, so that’s why I didn’t choose 6 x 9 inches which is the size that everyone else I know has chosen.

My proof copy has arrived and for me, the size is perfect. It’s the same size as Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book (Unsheltered), the same size as many novels on the shelves in the UK.

But then I googled – what is the best size for your novel – and I got various replies. Here are some of them.

from Bespoke Book Covers

  • Usually sized anywhere from 5 x 8 inches, up to 6 x 9 inches, depending on the length of the novel.
  • If your novel is quite long, consider going for a 6 x 9 size, so your book doesn’t become too bulky. This can make it uncomfortable to hold, and difficult to read.

Me – Phew. Seems OK then, but not much detail.

from The Book Designer
‘Novels appear in lots of different sizes but for a shorter book I prefer smaller sizes that seem to be more intimate a reading experience. 5-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ is probably the most popular size, but 5-1/4″ x 8″ is also a charming size for these books.’

Me – That’s a relief – so it’s not the most popular size but it’s ‘a charming size’. Still not much detail.

from Reedsy Blog
Trade paperback sizes will range anywhere from 5.5” x 8.5” (a size that’s called digest) to 6” x 9” (also known as US trade). In today’s market, this is the go-to paperback size range for many novels, memoirs, and non-fiction books.

Me – So my size isn’t a trade paperback size. Does that matter? I’m still trying to find out.

By this time, I’m getting slightly nervous. My book choice doesn’t fit into the range mentioned by Reedsy. Does it matter? Then I get to the next result which I find extremely helpful. It’s the following information from IngramSpark:

‘Your book has been written, rewritten, beta readedited and reedited to within an inch of its life.  Now it is time to design and layout the interior. One of the first decisions you will be asked to make is the height and width of the book. This is called the trim size. So you go to your bookshelf and pull down your favorite four books and notice that they are all 6×9. There! Decision made! But not so fast.’

Me – Oh dear. That’s more or less how I made my choice except they were 5.25 x 8, not 6 x 9 inches.

Ingram Spark again:
‘Here are the questions you should ask yourself when choosing your trim size based on other books. 

  1. Are the books you’re comparing to in your same genre?
  2. Are the books the same format? Is yours a paperback and the one you’re holding a hardcover?
  3. Is the book you’re holding more than 2 years old?
  4. Is the book you’re holding published by an established publisher?

Here is the thing that stumps a lot of us. We like what we like, but often our tastes are not quite in line with what people are buying today. (I know . . . it depresses me too.) 

So instead of turning to your own bookshelf, when choosing a trim size of a book you are about to publish; the decision should be based on these factors instead: 

  1. What is the best trim size for YOUR category according to customer purchase habits within the last year?
  2. What sizes are established publishers using for their books in your category?
  3. How will the trim size affect a book industry professional’s opinion of your book?
  4. Does the trim size you chose dramatically impact the page count and print pricing of your book?

Me – I start to worry. I know about how how the size of the book affects the print pricing. It’s logical. The smaller the book, the more pages. The more pages, the more expensive it is to print. But my novel is not terribly long. It’s average – just over 300 pages, so the size is OK from that point of view. But then I read the next section which is a table of the most popular sizes for each genre. Have a look at this.

Ingram Spark’s table:

‘I have compiled for you a list of the most common categories, and I have researched the most common trim sizes for the bestselling books in each category. Many of the trim sizes were so close to sizes available at IngramSpark that if they were a 10th of an inch or less different, I referenced IngramSpark’s available sizes.

What is clear, is that if you want to emulate a successful publishing house (hint: you do), then you should consider the following trim sizes.

Most Common Book Trim Sizes

  • General Fiction  5.25×8
  • General Non-Fiction 5.5×8.5
  • Thrillers/Mysteries  5.25×8 
  • YA General Fiction  5×7
  • YA Dystopian, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi  5.5×8.5
  • General Self Help  5.25×8
  • Inspirational/Spiritual  5×8
  • Memoir  5.25×8 
  • Reference  6×9 and 7×10
  • Middle-Grade Fiction  5×8 
  • Picture Books PB  8×8
  • Business  5.5×8.5 OR 5.25×8

Hallelujah, my book size is fine – excellent even.

I hope that your book is the right size, too.

Please be reassured that there isn’t really a ‘wrong’ size (as I feared there might be). Whatever size you feel suits your book is what you should choose. The other comfort is that if you are using KDP then you can change the size of your book if you decide that it wasn’t what you wanted. I hope this info helps.

What size should my book be? – Bespoke Book Covers
How big should my book be? – Book Designer
Picking a popular trim size for your book – Ingram Spark

image – Nicole Bero at