Design Your Book for Print

Publishing 101-Phase 3
[Your Book] Print Books

pub101 logo 300x89 Publishing an eBookEverything you need to know about Indie Publishing
in a Step-by-Step Plan

How to Design your Book for Print

Picture453Now you are ready to get that manuscript to look more like a book! Here are some tips to think about for your design.

I won’t discuss how to layout your book because you probably use a different program than I do…I use InDesign (by Adobe) because I can manipulate the text, margins and design more easily than with Word; I can also then publish as an eBook with a simple click with few problems (as long as I did the initial layout with programming rather than spacing like I discussed last week). I’m also on a Mac, so my instructions won’t match someone who is on a PC.

No matter how you choose to put together your book, there are design elements you need to consider:

  • How will the interior of your book look?
  • What size will the book be printed in?
    (5.5 x 8.5 is fairly common and easy to do)
  • Will you use headers on each page? What will they say?
    (Headers run across the top of the page…the left page header will either be the author’s name or the book’s title; the right side will either be the chapter title or the book’s title [if you used the author’s name on the left side]. Use the chapter title on the right page if your chapters are all more than three pages; if they are less than that, use the book’s title on the right page header).
  • Where will your page numbers be?
    (Some books put their page numbers in the page header, others on the bottom either in the center of the page or on the outside margin. I’ve even seen some modern books put page numbers in the middle of the side margin.)
  • What will your chapter header pages look like?
    (Usually chapter header pages don’t use a running header on the top. They often start a little further down the page; where is up to you.)
  • What font will you use?
    (I’m a bit of a font snob and a traditionalist. I dislike it when books are printed in a sans serif font [a font like Helvetica or Arial] because they look strange to the eye. The eye likes to see a traditional font on a printed book and a sans serif font online, so I follow that rule.)
  • Will you have color or b/w pages?
    (Color is possible, but usually more expensive to produce. Black and white interior is easiest; just remember that if you have a graphic in the book, it must be black and white if you are printing in black and white.)
  • What size will your margins be?
    (Margins are one of those things that will easily give away of the book is self published; you don’t want them too wide or too thin. Keep in mind that your right and left pages will have different margins on different sides, depending upon where the spine is located to the respective page. A right hand page will have a larger left side margin and a left hand page will have a larger right side margin to accommodate the spine (also called the gutter). I usually set my inside margins (by the spine) at .875”and the outside margins at .5”. I set the top and bottom margins at .625”so I can have room for the headers and the page numbers. Keep in mind that you need to keep all the print at least a .25”from the edge of the book.)

When you are designing your book there are a few things that make you look more professional:

  • Fonts: as I discussed above, don’t use a sans serif font for a printed book; use a traditional font like Minion Pro (one of my faves), Times New Roman, or Goudy or fonts that look similar to these.
  • Remember that chapters always start on a right hand page—even if the left hand page is blank. It’s just how it’s done. If you don’t like a blank left hand page, insert a graphic, a quote or a pullout quote to fill the space.
  • Orphan and Widow Lines: Paragraphs should not break to another page if only one line (or worse, one word) is by itself on a page (either to start with or to end with). If you only have room on the page for the first line of a paragraph, hit return and start the paragraph on the next page. If your paragraph ends with only one line on a new page, tweak the word or line spacing so you have at least two lines of a paragraph together on a new page.

And there you have it; a quick primer on the interior of your book.

Did I leave out your most important question about book layout? Ask it below and I will answer you personally!


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