There’s a lot more involved to designing and typesetting a book than you may
think. The best way to wind up with a professional-looking book is to hire
an experienced book designer.
Here are a few common questions that may help you make that decision.
1. Why should I hire a book designer? I have Word.
If you’re tempted to lay out your own book in Word, you should know that book
designers balance about 30 rules to turn out a good product, and it’s all
about which rules to follow and which rules to bend in any given situation.
We adjust paragraph by paragraph, line by line, and sometimes letter by
letter. I’ve worked with several clients who tried to typeset their own
books, and found out, after spending a lot of money on printing, that
distributors would not accept their books because they looked homemade.
Word is not suitable for book composition. If you must do it yourself,
invest in a good page layout program like Adobe InDesign and find someone
who can teach you at least the basics of book typesetting, but truthfully,
this will probably cost you more money than hiring a designer and the time
you spend learning would be better spent selling your book.
Like any other skill, quality book design requires training and experience.
There’s much more to it than picking a font and setting margins. Books look
“easy to do” because a pro has already fixed all sorts of problems that an
inexperienced person may not even be aware of. In addition to organizing
your information in an easy-to-access form, book designers use page layout
software to set type that’s easy on the eyes. We override the software
defaults paragraph by paragraph and sometimes line by line to achieve even
spacing and follow the many other rules of page composition to produce a
professional book. We never use Word to typeset a book, because it simply
doesn’t have the controls necessary to achieve these results. Distributors
will often reject a book that looks homemade.
2. How can a new publisher tell if a book has been designed well?
A well-designed book should look appealing from the moment you pick it up.
It should surprise and delight you. It should “invite you in” and make you
want to read the content. If it’s a complex book such as a training manual,
your eye should be led from one section to the next in a way that’s easy to
follow. You should never see overly tight and loose lines, large gaps
between words, paragraphs that end in one short word or a word fragment, or
pages that begin or end with one line. The font styles and size should be
appropriate to the subject matter.
3. What services does a typical book designer offer?
A few designers specialize in covers, others focus on interiors. Most offer
both services, as well as editing, proofreading and printing coordination
services for the client’s convenience.
4. How much do most book designers charge for this service?
Prices vary depending on the project and the amount of time required. A
cover that requires an illustration will cost much more than a cover that is
designed with a stock photo. A novel will cost less per page than a
software manual filled with graphics and tables. Once you have identified
several designers whose style you like, discuss your budget with them. Be
suspicious of very low prices, because the “designer” may be giving you a
template that has been used on dozens of books before, not an original
creation. And remember that you’re buying the services of a person, not a
commodity, so experience, responsiveness, courtesy and interest in your
project are important considerations.
What do you want to know? What topics should we explore together? How can we help you along your publishing journey? Everyone here at 1106 Design wants to help. Post your comment here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Michele DeFilippo, owner, 1106 Design