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Image Optimization Guide

Best Practices for Image Submittal

Images can play a crucial role in the successful execution of a book project by enhancing the text and giving the reader insight into your story. Although your text can be easily reproduced and manipulated to fi t the design of your book, image submission, placement and quality require careful planning and consideration by the author and publisher. This Image Optimization Guide provides the detailed information you’ll need for everything from the submission of your digital fi les to the printing of images in your book.

Submitting Your Images to iUniverse: Crucial Considerations

Send Digital Images, Not Hard Copies or Originals.
Digital technology has revolutionized the publishing and printing industries, and has also changed photography and image management. While film and hard copies were the standard for years, the majority of photographs and images are now managed as digital fi les rather than hard copies.

Since the design of your book is done in the latest digital layout program, high-quality digital image fi les are essential. When submitting images to iUniverse for the inside of your book or your cover, we recommend that you submit digital image fi les rather than hard copy materials. Digital files are much easier to work with, transmit and manage.

iUniverse does not recommend that you send hard copies or printed images, especially if they are original photographs or illustrations. Due to the high volume of materials we receive and process at our facility, we cannot assume responsibility for lost or damaged materials. Sending hard copy materials, especially originals, should be a last resort when submitting images.

Size and Resolution: Ensuring Image Clarity Within Your Book
All digital image files are not created equally. The two properties which most directly affect the quality of a digital image are size and resolution. Small size and low resolution are the most frequent problems authors face with image quality, so it is a good idea to spend a little time to understand them now, before your book is in production.

Image Size
The image size needs to be no less than the actual size at which the image will appear in your book. For example, if you are sending an image that you want to fill one full page in a 6”x9” book, the size of the image file must be at least 6”x 9”. Images can always be reduced in size to fi t into your book, but small images cannot be expanded without becoming distorted. If you’ve seen images online or printed that appear blurry or pixilated, they were likely expanded from a smaller image. If you are concerned about the size of your image files, leave the files in their original size and iUniverse will reduce them to the optimal size for your book.

Image Resolution
When referring to digital images, the term resolution is used to quantify the number of pixels or dots that make up an image. As the number of pixels in an image increases, so do the resolution and clarity of the image. The two standard measures for resolution are dots per inch (dpi) and pixels per inch (ppi). The terms are interchangeable, as both are a measure of the number of pixels within the image. In printing and publishing, the standard threshold for image clarity is 300 dpi. Images with a resolution of less than 300 dpi can appear distorted and pixilated when printed. As with image size, image resolution can always be decreased, but image resolution cannot be artificially increased.

Determining Size and Resolution
Although all image management programs vary, nearly all of these programs contain an image’s size and resolution. Once a digital image is open on your computer (and you can see the image), look across the top of your computer screen for the “File” menu. Click on the “File” menu and look down the list of options that appear underneath. You should see “Properties” among the list. Select “Properties.” A new window will open up, giving you all the properties of your image, most likely with size in inches and resolution in dpi.

Altering Image Size and Resolution
If your images were taken with a high-quality digital camera, they are most likely already an appropriate size and resolution for submission. If you are scanning images from hard copy paper files or original photographs you can set the resolution and size of your digital image in your scanning program settings. Always check the resolution and size after scanning, and adjust your settings and rescan if necessary. If you are not comfortable scanning images and checking size and resolution, there are a number of businesses that can perform the service for you. Your local copy shop, as well as retail stores like FedEx Kinko’s™ and Staples® can scan your pictures and save them as digital files on a disc for a normal per-picture cost. If you let them know you need your images scanned at 300 dpi at actual size, they’ll know exactly what to do. iUniverse also provides scanning services for a fee, but this includes sending hard copies through the mail, which can add time and risk to the process.

There is little iUniverse can do to fix digital image files submitted at low resolution or inadequate size. If you submit any images that are less than 300 dpi, your Publishing Services Associate will warn you and try to help you resubmit any such images at the minimum required resolution. If you are unable to resubmit any such images at the minimum required resolution, we will require a written statement declaring that you are aware of the quality issue and grant us the authority to submit the book to the printer even though it contains low-resolution images.

Upload Digital Images Separately, as Individual Files
When submitting digital images, it is best to upload separate, individual files. When your book designer begins work on your book, they must import your images into their design program one at a time. JPEG or TIFF files tend to be the easiest to work with, but iUniverse can accept some other electronic image formats, such as .EPS, .PSD, etc.

When preparing your image files for submission, it is crucial to name them in chronological order as they will appear in your book. For example, the first image to appear in your book should be labeled “01.jpg” or “A.tiff”; the second image in your book should be labeled “02.tiff” or “B.jpg”, and so on. This method ensures that your book designer will know the exact order of your images, and you can easily refer to images by their assigned number or letter, rather than having to discuss lengthy filenames.

One common problem authors face is including images inside or embedded in a text document, spreadsheet, or Microsoft® Power Point presentation. The text of your book and the images will be imported into our design program separately, and images embedded in another document must be extracted before they can be imported. When digital images are embedded in another file, they are automatically compressed by reducing their resolution and size. If the embedded image is the only copy you provide, it will most likely be low resolution and at an inadequate size for printing.

It is perfectly fine to submit your manuscript with your images embedded within it if you are also sending the images as separate files. In fact, this is an excellent way of communicating where you’d like your images to go. Another viable option is to include placeholder text in your manuscript for each image. If you simply include a placeholder like “Place Image filename.jpg Here,” your book designer will replace this text with the image file you submitted separately.

Sending Your Image Files

Uploading Your Images Online
In order to supply iUniverse with the high-resolution images for your book, you will need to upload them individually via the online submission process on your myUniverse account. If you have a high number of image files for your book, please discuss alternative and less time consuming methods of file transmission with your Check-In Coordinator.

Color Matching and Color Modes

Unfortunately, reproducing and printing color is not an exact science. We will try to match the color on your cover to the original image as closely as possible. Color matching is a challenge for all printing services and book publishers, no matter how big or small the company.

There are a number of reasons why color matching can be a challenge: 

  •  A scanner’s setting affects the color of a scanned image.
  • A computer’s monitor settings affect the colors you see.
  • When your book is printed, the printer ink levels affect the color. Books printed at different times will have slight differences in shade of color.
  • Two people will often see colors differently.

For all these reasons, it is nearly impossible to reproduce the exact same colors you see in your original color photograph. We can achieve a color that is very close. Reds will stay red, blues will stay blue, but the shades may simply vary slightly.

RGB and CMYK
Depending on how your picture was scanned, it will be composed of one of two different combinations of colors: Red, Green, and Blue (RGB); or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). All iUniverse titles are printed using the CMYK color mode. Since the colors of CMYK are not primary colors, images that have vibrant reds, greens, or blues will be slightly muted in the finished book.

Preventable Problems with Image Submission

Copyrighted Images Require Written Permission
If you are sending images which you did not produce or own the rights to, you will need written permission from the rights holder and submit the permission to iUniverse before including the image in your book. Copyrighted material includes (but is not limited to) newspaper and magazine pictures and articles, most clip art, most images found on the Internet, and most pictures you did not take or create yourself without acquiring or buying permission to use.

Images from Newspapers or Magazines Reproduce Poorly
Images from newspapers or magazines suff er a substantial loss of quality when scanned, due to the unique way in which newspapers and magazines are printed. When scanned, these images often have lines or patterns on them that are diffi cult if not impossible to remove. iUniverse can try to modify these images if they are sent to us for scanning, but we cannot guarantee that such an image will have the same quality as an original photograph or illustration. Most images in newspapers and magazines are subject to copyright, and iUniverse will require written permission before these images can be included in your book.

Internet Images Should Stay on the Internet
All images posted on the Internet are displayed at 72 dpi to save file storage space. While these images may be clear on your monitor, if they are saved separately and printed they often appear pixilated and distorted. Unless you can specifically download a high-resolution copy of the image (300 dpi), it is best to assume that all images on the Internet cannot be reproduced in your book.

4 Steps to Optimal Images

  1. Save images as digital image files rather than hard copies or originals
  2. Ensure images have a resolution of 300 dpi at actual size
  3. Submit images as chronologically named individual files
  4. Submit your images during the online submission process via your myUniverse account

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to submit images for my book?
For optimal results, it is best to submit each image as an individual digital file. Images should be saved at the actual size you’d like them to appear in your book or larger, with a resolution of at least 300 dpi. By submitting all of the fi les via myUniverse and naming the files chronologically in the order they appear in your book, your files are kept together in one place and ready for placement by your book designer.

Why do my images need to be 300 dpi?
Throughout the printing industry, a resolution of 300 dpi at actual size is the minimum threshold to guarantee an image can be printed accurately and clearly. Images can appear pixilated and distorted if they have a resolution lower than 300 dpi or are saved at a smaller size than will appear in your book. If you insist that iUniverse use images with a resolution less than 300 dpi, we will ask you to sign an agreement that you are aware of the inclusion of low-resolution images in your book.

How will my book designer know where to place my images?
iUniverse asks that you include image insertion markers within your manuscript to indicate exactly where your images should appear. You can send separate high-quality digital files and enter placeholder text with the filename of the image. By labeling the images in chronological order, your book designer will be able to locate and place images easily.

What is the difference between RGB and CMYK, and how does it affect my images?
While most computer monitors use an RGB color mode consisting of Red, Blue, and Green, high-quality printed materials require four-color, CMYK ink. To produce black text using RGB mode, all three colors must be mixed together, but the fourth color in CMYK is true black. Since the colors of CMYK are not primary colors, images that have vibrant reds, greens, or blues will be slightly muted in the finished book.

How do I get permission to use a copyrighted image?
Copyrighted images often include the name of the copyright holder on the edge of the image or in a caption or description surrounding it. All images in magazines, books, newspapers, and Internet sites are copyrighted either by the publisher or one of their photographers. To obtain permission to publish, you’ll need to contact the copyright holder directly and request written permission to use the image. This paperwork will need to be verified by iUniverse before the image can be published.