October/November's Tips and Tricks
October/November's Tips & Tricks for Self-Publishers
Design for the Reader
There are two elements to the design of a book: the inside text design, or layout, and the outside cover and/or dustjacket design. Unlike the design of other works of art, the main consideration in designing a book is the reader’s comfort. If he or she cannot easily read the words, then that book or cover is badly designed, no matter how pretty it appears.
If you decide you want to design and layout a book yourself, there are some fundamental principles you need to understand.
Every book needs a plan before it can be printed. Do some basic homework before beginning the design of the layout for your book. Go to bookstores and the library and pick up books that appeal to you. Then, try to figure out why they “speak” to you. Look specifically at the design of the pages, the typeface that is used, and the way the page numbers, running heads, and footers are placed. Photocopy pages from the books you like and use them as a source for developing your own layout plan. (Using these pages as a source does not mean directly copying them for your own book, which is plagiarism.)
Certain rules are constant for all books, such as all odd-numbered pages are right-hand pages and left-hand pages are even-numbered, and the first page is always a right-hand page.
Each page in a book has certain elements that are necessary and become part of the layout. Begin with the margins surrounding the text. These margins affect the look of the book. The larger they are, the more luxurious the book’s appearance — some books of poetry have only one or two lines of text centered on a page.
Include about .25 inch extra on the inside margin for a binding edge. A novel that is 5.5 by 8.5 inches might have a .75 inch margin on the outside edge, bottom, and top, and a 1" margin on the inside, or gutter, binding margin. Whatever margins you choose, keep them consistent throughout the book. Work for a balance between the mass of the text and the white space of the margin, always keeping in mind how best to make the book reader-friendly.