Why do you need book design, anyway?


An example of a poorly desiged page. Note the uncomfortably dark and cramped type, the too-small margins, and the too-wide paragraph indents.



This is the same page as above. Even at this small size you can tell that it looks much more readable thanks to a good design.


The factors mentioned above are just the start. There are many details to be attended to in every book—such as the choice of typefaces and colors, the styling of chapter openers, lists, and even page numbers—and all of these together make up the design.


The Book Design Process

Welcome to the wonderful and interesting world of self-publishing. This is the part of the site dedicated to helping you decide what you need. Generally, your book is ready for the design process when you have completed the steps listed below yourself. If you need advice on these steps, ask your designer for help, or you can check the step-by-step guide on the How-To Guide page.

• You have found an editor and are working with him or her to finalize your manuscript.
• You have lined up a printer for your book and its cover. You have decided what dimensions you would like the book to be.
• You have obtained an ISBN number.
• You have gotten permissions if you need them and are working on the copyright page.

Now you are ready for the book design process. You will need both a cover design and an interior book design. Everyone understands the importance of a good cover design, but the interior design of the book is just as important. A well-designed book will invite the potential reader in. The pages are laid out so that they are easy to read—no one wants to read small text that leads to eyestrain or headaches! An experienced book designer knows how to present information clearly and attractively.

Here are the steps needed to create the interior design and page layout:

• You send your designer your Word or rtf file.
• The designer can figure out how many pages the final book will be. Do you want it to be as short as possible (to avoid higher printing fees) or as long as possible (to impress readers)? I can make the book whatever reasonable length you would like.
• Your designer will prepare a custom book design for your approval. After that has been approved, she or he make a template and flow your words onto the pages. You will be sent a first set of proofs in PDF format, or a hard copy if you prefer.
• You (and/or a proofreader) carefully review the proofs and return them with your comments and changes.
• If your book needs an index, you give a set of these proofs to your indexer.
• Your designer makes the changes you requested, and sends you a second round of proofs for confirmation.

The designer prepares the files according to your printer's specifications and sends them to the printer and to you for your safekeeping.

In the meantime, you will work together on a cover design, which should be integrated with the interior for a smooth transition when the reader opens the book. The steps:

• You decide on an overall feeling or look that you want to convey on the cover. You send any photo or artwork that you want to use.
• You provide copy for the back cover (and the flaps if the book has a jacket).
You receive some cover concepts, and we discuss them. You work through this process with the designer for as long as it takes.
• As soon as you know how many pages the book will be, the designer adds a spine that is the correct width. When the cover is complete, the file is sent to the printer and to you.

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