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I've recently been through the process of getting all three of my thrillers turned into fantastic quality, professionally designed print books, and I'm really pleased with the results.
In today's interview, my interior designer, Jane Dixon Smith talks about some of the important elements of design.
[Click here for my list of recommended book cover designers.]
In the intro, I talk about linking your Goodreads reviews to Kobo, how the UK publishing industry is embracing self-publishing and give you an update on my rewrites plus book-bindingand more.
** Since I recorded this only a few days ago, Amazon has bought Goodreads. They have promised to keep the feed to Kobo but basically what I'm suggesting may not work going forward regarding reviews. **
Interview with Jane Dixon Smith:
JD Smith is a graphic designer for book covers and interiors as well as other branding materials. She's also the author of historical fiction and the editor of Words With Jam.
- How Jane's writing career has progressed from writing for pleasure to starting Words with Jam, a writing magazine. She has worked in graphic design for 13 years and last year went freelance, working with predominantly authors she has met through the magazine. She's just finished her first historical novel, Tristan and Isolde which will be coming out mid-2013.
Design elements and typography
- What are the graphic elements that authors get wrong that mark them out as amateur? Imagery and typography are the main elements and most people don't get typography right, even if they pick a good image. If you can't use Photoshop professionally, don't use it! Color matching needs to be done in the right way. Don't use the fanciest font your can find as it needs to be legible.
- Author branding needs to be good on websites as well as cover design. Use a good pro template on your author website. By portraying a professional image, you will look ‘more important' that not. Cluttering and the black background are two major issues with many author websites. Make it clean and easy to read. Space out your text and make it easy to read.
- On typography. There are font designers and new fonts being released all the time. I mention a recent Kickstarter for a font based on Sigmund Freud's handwriting (cool!) For the interior of your book, it needs to be plain and easy on the eye. Jane uses similar variations to Times, Garamond, Caslon – plain and easy to read. The interior font shouldn't even be noticeable. Jane recommends checking out Fontsquirrel and MyFonts.com.
- Why covers are so important in attracting readers and setting their expectations around quality. All your author branding needs to convey quality and professionalism.
- Why professional interior formatting can make a huge difference in the look of your print book. In the video, I show some of the pages of Pentecost and the aspects I love like the extra images, typography and the way the page numbers and headers are formatted. We talk about font size and typography that will make a difference to the length of your work and cost of printing as well as readability.
- Jane talks about making a print book a more highly valued product e.g. adding in special elements or adding a short story as well as investing in the quality of the book so people want to buy print as well as ebook versions.
- Interior formatting is not something I have the patience to do on my own and it's very hard with MS Word, so usually you need a professional program to get it right.
- You can find ‘royalty-free' stock images online – Jane recommends iStockphoto.com and Shutterstock.com, Thinkstock and also 123RoyaltyFree. It depends on the budget and what she's looking for. If you want images that will resize without losing quality, try VectorStock. Remember that you need to use high-resolution images, 300dpi for printing. This also relates to your own photos if you want to use those.
- We talk about the iterative process of design and also the file upload process on Createspace and other sites. Sometimes there are warnings and errors when files are loaded, that's quite normal in the process.
On the author collective
- Jane is part of the Triskele Books author collective, a group of authors with books around ‘time and place' who work together with beta-reading and marketing. They all keep their own rights and are all self-published, but they reap the benefits of a collective approach.
You can find Jane at JDSmith-Design.com
Daniel Escurel Occeno says
No questions, but I am very impressed. You are making it so enticing to self-publish.
Thank you Joanna and Jane for this post. I hopped straight over to FontSquirrel and found a perfect new font for a project. The choices from my publishing software weren’t looking quite right but I hadn’t thought of searching for a new one.
Stephen Tiano says
Glad to see book interior design get a nod. Cover design seems to get most of the attention so often. The truth is that they should work hand-in-hand, the cover making a kind of promise about what’s inside; and the interior keeping the promise.
Good interior design should certainly make for attractive pages, but not so much as to be distracting. The idea is to present the author’s work in an attractive, quiet way that helps the reader glide through the reading.
After working on about 100 book interiors, I think I’ve gotten at least this much down.
Very interesting conversation about a topic most of us never think about. And I suppose that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Good design doesn’t call attention to itself.
I had the pleasure of talking to Jane (via email, of course) about designing the cover of my first novel, and she is the best. Her covers are just outstanding – and I’m sure her interior design is no less brilliant.
Fred Schenkelberg says
HI Joanna, I’m working on a podcast series “Dare to Know: Interviews with Quality and Reliability Thought Leaders” and am planning to create short books from the transcripts.
I know that keeping the interview format and identifying the speakers in the text is important for readability.
My question is on best practices for create such a book interior design wise. I’ve seen examples that have the speaker name in bold at the start of a paragraph, off to the side in separate column, and just a set of abbreviations…
The intended audience is a the technical crowd of product or plant engineering folks.
Any good examples or guidelines out there?
Joanna Penn says
Hi Fred, I would generally recommend Book Design Templates for book interiors – lots of great designs to choose from http://bit.ly/11X9v6T
Fred Schenkelberg says
Thanks Joanna, I’ve been following Joel for some time and believe his templates are pretty useful. I’ve been all over his site and sent a note with the same question (haven’t heard back though). Haven’t found anything specific to laying out transcripts of an interview.
Thanks of the response and suggestion.
anuroop sebastian says
Thanks for all the insight on fonts. I am publishing a Christian devotional book through a small Christian publishing company. The publisher uses “Times New Roman” by default. Do you think “Times New Roman” is a good font for the text and heading.
Do you have any suggestions?
Maybe use one type of font for text and another font for headings?
I will really appreciate your response.
Stephen Tiano says
Ultimately, you might say that if you find a typeface appropriate then it is appropriate for you and your book. However, when you choose to self-publish, you’ve chosen to go into business as a publisher–even if just one time for just your own one book. And so the idea should be to publish a book that is at least indistinguishable from traditionally published books–or, ideally, is better.
So … Consider that Times New Roman is based on Times Roman, a typeface that was originally created for the London Times, specifically, and newspapers in general. And THAT intent was to make a typeface that would allow the greatest amount of print to be placed on the page–squeezing in as much news as possible.
That’s really not the direction you want to go with in a book. A printed book–at least it’s what think as a book designer of 24 years’ and almost 100 books’ experience–ought to be an object of art in its own right, above and beyond its content. So I think you want to use fonts that enhance your material and are suited to convey your material to your readers.
It’s one of the things I’ve blogged about and offered my opinion on at every turn on others’ blogs and various forums. You may want to check out my blog for some sense of how to begin looking for appropriate types. And, of course, I’d be happy to discuss your book and the possibility of taking it on as a design and layout project.