OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
In the very beginning, when I designed my first book interior back in 1998, my page layout experience already numbered five years. I spent a lot of time making interior pages on books for which the client supplied the template before I ever designed my first book interior. Looking back though, it helped me get a real sense of what went into a book’s design and what makes a better book interior.
Here are five pointers for self-publishers to help in finding the book designer/page composition artist who will make the most satisfying book interiors for them.
- Speak with the designer and make sure you are comfortable with the way he or she approaches book design. For instance, it’s my sense that a book interior designer is there to bring the author’s work to the reader and not make a grand artistic statement of his or her own. Book interior pages ought to be pleasant to the reader’s eye but never a distraction from the reading.
- If you are someone who has a lot of ideas about how your book should look—everything from page size and proportion to typefaces to be used—make sure your designer likes to worth with a good deal of client input. I prefer clients who tell me their thoughts on how they imagine they would like their book’s pages to look at the start and then let me go off to work until I send them samples to review. And then I like them to give me definite feedback quickly so I can act on it and stay in a rhythm of making pages.
- Whatever price you agree on with your designer for your book’s interior, think of it as an investment in your business as a publisher. Establishing a business requires an up-front investment and proper capitalizing of a business is necessary if the business is to succeed. Don’t think of design as merely a service you purchase, but rather an investment in your book’s success.
- Understand that book design is only one of a number of steps that go into the successful publishing of a book. The process begins with a well-written book on a subject that readers are interested in reading about, includes substantive editing (for things like sense and continuity), as well as design and page layout, proofreading, and a marketing plan that defines your book’s natural audience (after the initial group of friends, family, and acquaintances) who would likely be interested enough in your book to buy it.
- Realize that a professional book designer earns his or her living that way and so a production schedule is important, as is a schedule for complete payment for the work.
Remember, it's also important to communicate. The closer we come to a meeting of minds at the start of a book project, the more likely you are to love the finished product and, I truly believe, the more likely it is that your book will be successful.
Image: Flickr CC Tayrawr Fortune