You’ve worked long and hard writing your book. If you’re self-publishing, the next step is Book Design, which can be somewhat challenging if you’ve never done it before. Following are some ideas to get you started.
What is Book Design?
Many people assume that Book Design is about the front and back cover. That’s true, but there’s more. It also includes the layout and design of every page of your book. So, you either hire a professional book designer or you learn to do it yourself. In either case, you want the design to create a professional impression.
There’s an expression that says that it’s hard to make a good first impression the second time around. In the case of a book, that first impression is made by your book’s cover. That means both the graphic design and the title. The Cover Design should be consistent with the genre and tone of your book. The title should be legible, should clearly identify your subject, and should create the kind of hook that would make a potential reader pick it up. Think about the number of times you’ve been in a book store or library, browsing the aisles. What made you stop to look at a particular book? What caught your eye?
When considering aspects of your Cover Design, think about what you want your design to say, what information is necessary and sufficient to include, and how your book will look when measured against your potential competition. And when you’ve chosen to do your own Cover Design, if it looks amateurish when you’re finished, you might want to think about hiring a pro, especially when it comes to artwork.
Interior Book Design
Your cover will get your potential readers to pick up your book, maybe even buy it. But the Interior Design will invite them to actually read it. The one thing you want to avoid is having your book’s Interior Design be a distraction. So, it’s really important to follow professional Book Design guidelines, instead of choosing “weird” fonts or type designs. There can be exceptions, of course, when you want to make some kind of statement. But save those exceptions for a special occasion.
Remember that Interior Book Design includes having the right structure. Following are some typical sections you might include: the interior title page, the copyright page, an optional dedication page, an optional foreword, a table of contents (usually for non-fiction only), a glossary (as appropriate), a bibliography (as appropriate), possible acknowledgments, and any other sections you feel you need. Available resources can provide lots more details. Keep in mind that each of these specialized sections has its own set of design guidelines.
Again, if it looks amateurish, your reader may not finish your book, and that usually doesn’t make for good sales.
Most print book design guidelines are just as valid for e-book design. However, there will be some obvious exceptions. Some rules may become unnecessary, while special rules for e-books might be added. It would be useful and valuable to learn the specifics of the e-reader(s) you’re targeting. Examples may include: no page numbering, no headers or footers, no footnotes, no page breaks (except for chapter breaks), management of tables and other graphics, availability of internal links (which make the Table of Contents more directly useful), and internal search capability. You may find many more.
The above information is just an overview of what’s needed for, and the amount of effort that goes into, effective book design. There are a wide variety of resources available to assist you if you choose to do it yourself, and of course, there are available professionals for hire. Either way, keep in mind that your goal is to design a handsome, professional-looking book.
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