Book Design. Tips

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Should I use headings in my text design?

Headings in your Text

Don't forget headings when you decide on your text design. Normally, heading are in a different type to add contrast and interest to the page. Remember that too many different types can be confusing to the reader. If you stick to one larger, bolder type in the same family as your main type, your book will have more visual contrast and will keep the reader turning the pages to find out more information.

*Too many headings will break up the pages too much so don't get too crazy when you add headings.

Should I hire a professional book jacket designer?

Professional Book Jacket Design

When you design your book, don't stop at the front cover. Remember, the first look a buyer will probably get of your book in the bookstore is the spine that faces out from the shelf and the back cover is where they will probably turn for information that will make them decide to buy your book. Put thought into every inch of your book jacket.

*Investing in a professional book jacket design can help sell more copies of your book, and make your book look more professional, too.

*Keep in mind that cover and jacket design pricing can run you from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars (sometimes more). Every penny that you put towards designing is a penny that you need to earn back in book sales.

What about the back book cover design?

Don't Forget the Back Cover

Get your book's back! Don't forget the back cover when completing your book jacket design! Often, the back cover will cause a buyer to either open your book or put it back on the shelf.

*A short synopsis or excerpt, several compelling bullet points, a few testimonials/reviews, and a short bio are elements that should be considered for back of your self published book cover.

What margins should I use for my text?

Text Margins

Give your text some room! Probably the single mistake amateurs make most often when creating their text design is not allowing enough space for margins. The printer needs to have white space all around the page (which includes the heads and folios).

*A good rule of thumb to use when designing a page is to use a minimum of ¾-inch in the gutter (center of the book) and ½-inch on the other three sides.

What is a page?

What is a Page?

Can you count? Turn to page 1 of any book. Turn the page—the back of page 1 is page 2. If you look at the next page, you will see that it is page 3, and the back of page 3 is page 4, and so on. Odd-numbered pages are always on the right, and even-numbered pages are always on the left. All of this may seem elementary, but counting pages is one of the single most misunderstood things in printing. Many printers receive manuscripts with the pages numbered 1F and 1B (1Front and 1Back), 2F and 2B, and so on—instead of 1, 2, 3, 4. Yet, a book in print will not have pages numbered 1F, 1B, 2F, 2B, 3F, 3B, etc.

*Remember every page counts as a page whether it is blank or part of the text—numbered or not.

What size and format should I use when I plan my book design?

Holding Your Book

Make your book user-friendly. There are many facets of book design, including how your book will be used. Take into consideration the anticipated usage of your book before designing it.

  • If your book is a how-to, reference, or cookbook, you probably will want to design it to lay flat somehow (so the reader can use it conveniently when needed)
  • If the book is designed to be read often, like a novel or book of poetry, you want to make sure the book is comfortable to hold—you wouldn't want to design a book in too large a format (like a coffee table book) because those are designed to be looked at while they are laying down, rather than being held and read for a long period

*Think about how your book will be used when you plan your book design.

Can I still use camera copy?

Can I Use Camera Copy?

Today, most printers have scanners that will scan in excess of 30 pages per minute. A 320-page self published book takes about 10 minutes to scan. In short, it's no big deal. Remember that scanning your laser copy puts the final printing another generation away from the original in quality but, for straight text with no halftones (pictures) or screened graphics, few people will know the difference. If you are leaning to do a book layout design suggest, I suggest that you go out and buy a ream of really good paper, set your printer to as high a dpi as possible, and give it a whirl. It never hurts to try!

Are some fonts easier to read online or in print than others?

Reading Type Online and in Print

What does that say? Text design is extremely important when deciding where you will publish your book. Be sure to choose a text design that is easy for your readers to read. Text fonts are characterized largely as "serif" and “sans-serif."

  • Serif is a font such as Times New Roman, which has small "serifs" or tags on many of the letters
  • Sans-serif type fonts are fonts such as "Arial" that do not have these tags on any of the letters

Studies have shown that Arial (or sans-serif type fonts) are easier for people to read online, while Times New Roman (or serif-type fonts) are easier for people to read in print. So, when choosing a text design, know where you will sell your book and make it easier on your readers' eyes by choosing the right font.

How can I find a professional book jacket designer?

Finding a Professional Book Jacket Designer

The book jacket design is the first thing your reader usually sees, so you want a pro to design your book jacket. A simple search on Google in "book jacket design" provides a number of companies and designers who specialize in this type of work. Before deciding on a designer, look at the designs done by different designers, compare, and decide whose designs you like the most. When you see designs that look most like the image you have in mind for your book, contact that designer for a quote for their services.

How do I prepare my text for the printer?

PDF Text Conversion

One of the most significant changes to have taken place since the first printing of the Publishing Basics is the file format most requested by book printers, Adobe PDF. Adobe PDF appears to have won the race when it comes to preferred text format. It works with virtually all imagesetters, platesetters and digital output devices. Unlike postscript, which can only be viewed on a postscript viewer (which most people do not have), PDF can be read on any PDF reader. PDF readers are free either at the Adobe website, the website, or through half the websites on the Internet.

*For a reasonable fee, you can also hire a book layout professional who will lay out your book in the proper format for you — since computers save thousands of dollars on typesetting costs, you should be able to afford several hundred dollars for the services of someone who specializes in making sure our books make it from PC to press smoothly and efficiently.

Are there books available that tell me how to design my text and graphics in Microsoft Word?

Books, Type, and Microsoft Word

Here's another book that can really help you with your overall book design (especially your text design). "Books, Type, and Microsoft Word" is designed as an e-book so you can easily reference it as you design and write your own self published book. It will help you:

  • Design your text
  • Design your overall look of the book
  • Design intricacies like margins, graphics, and even paragraphs

The program will enable you to do all of these tasks—all the while using the word processor you probably already own.

Should I layout my book with one column or two columns on each page?

One Column or Two?

Some book layout designs incorporate one column on each page, and other incorporate two. Which should you use? It depends on your book! Most books only use one column, but many memoirs and textbooks use the two column layout.

*You should decide which book layout design to use before you write you book, but you can also play around with formatting afterward, to see what appeals to you and is easiest to read.

Do I have to state which country the book was printed?

Country of Origin

Was your book born in the USA? If your self published book is not manufactured in the U.S., you must state the country where the book was printed. You not only have to state the country, but the size of the type that tells the country of origin (printing) cannot be in a size any smaller than the name of the publisher as it appears on the copyright page. If you do not do this, you could have serious trouble getting your books imported into this country.

*If you have a jacket, the same "printed in" line must appear on it, so you must incorporate this information into your book jacket design.

Should my book have an index?

Indexing Your Book

I can't find it! All books don't need an index, but if your book is non-fiction (especially how-to, historical, or many other types of reference non-fictions) it really pays to have an index. You can pay a professional indexer to index your book, or you can learn how to use the indexer in Microsoft Word. Either way, if your book does not have an index, it may frustrate readers who are looking for specific information.

Can I use existing graphics in my book design?

Copyright and Book Design

Didn't your parents teach you to ask for permission? Some graphic collections are sold for publication, but often they are expensive. If you use a graphic that you find online, or that came in a collection, you must receive permission to use the graphic. If you do not have permission to use an image, you will be violating the graphic designer's copyright.

*Never simply assume the graphic is "ok," you need to make absolutely sure or you open yourself and your book up to lawsuits and copyright infringement violations.

*There are plenty of sites available that offer art for cover or text images at very low costs or even free of charge. Look around.

Does white count as a color on my book layout design?

Is White a Color?

How many colors are there on my book layout design? The white of the paper never counts as a color in book layout design. White is the background and each individual color after that actually counts. For example:

  • A one-color cover is one ink-color on white paper
  • A two-color book design cover is two colors on white
  • A three-color book cover is three colors on white The more colors you use, the more expensive your book layout design will be.

Here are a few hints to help you cut costs:
  • Ask a designer to use screens to get other tints or colors without having to pay for them ( a 50% screen used with black will yield a gray in the area screened, and a 50% screen of red will yield a pink, etc.)
  • The combination of two screens gives you the effect of a third color. (blue plus yellow equals green, yellow plus red equals brown, etc.)

*In today's digital world, there is no reason to design anything but a four color process cover (a one or 2 color cover is going to actually be printed four color if you run quantities under 500).

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Guru Spotlight
William Pirraglia