As you finish your manuscript, it’s time to think about designing your book. Remember, just because you are self-publishing a book, doesn’t mean your book should look self-published. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The more professionally designed your book, the more credibility you’ll have with it. You are very near completion, and now is not the time to take shortcuts or cut back on your budget.
The Design Elements of a Book
The two parts of your book design that you’ll need to complete to get your book to print are the cover and the interior. The same designer can complete these, or your cover and interior designer can be different people, working together to create a uniform look.
Getting Your Cover Designed
The cover designer will work with you to create a full cover for your book including the front and back of the book. Typically, a designer will give you a variety of images and fonts to choose from and will co-create this design with you. You may decide to incorporate a personal photo, an image of a particular object, or not use any image on your cover. Whatever your preference, the cover designer will work to create a cover that matches the tone and style of your book and genre
In addition to creating the front image, the designer will also put together the complete book jacket, which includes the spine and the back of the book. (The spine is finalized only when the interior of the book is completed and the page count has been finalized.) The back of the book required a variety of information from you, such as the “back of the book blurb,” an author bio and/or picture, a barcode with the ISBN, your publishing logo, and a testimonial or endorsement. Less is sometimes more, so you don’t need all of these elements on your cover, but you will need most of them.
A beautiful, professionally designed book cover won’t sell your book for you, but almost. It’s the first selling point in the buying process and a critical one.
Getting the Interior Layout Designed
The interior layout of your book is just as important as every other part of the book. When a book isn’t professional designed, it’s always a sign that someone has self-published.
The designer who completes your interior layout will provide you with final, print-ready files that can be sent to your printer. While many layout programs online allow you to do the layout, they have severe limitations, and lack the critical eye of a professional designer.
Your book is unique and special, and you want your layout to reflect that as well. Utilizing a DIY layout software creates a cookie-cutter layout, that may or may not reflect the tone and style of your book as well as match the cover.
Layouts vary greatly in their complexity. General fiction are pretty standard and are relatively easy compared to a self-help book with lots of sub-headings, bullet points and lists, and those are even less complicated than a how-to book with various footnotes, graphs, charts, and appendices. Regardless of the complexity of your layout, the most important part of the layout is consistency. Having a designer work with you on your layout will help you identify the inconsistencies in your manuscript and create a uniform and professional look.
Lastly, readability is a crucial part of a reader’s experience. The book design will create a tone and feel for your book that easily allows buyers to read your book without distraction. While selling your book to a buyer is the first challenge, the second step is getting people to actually read the book they’ve purchased. Book sales lead to book reviews, which in-turn leads to more book sales!
Selecting a Designer
You’ll want to take the same approach to selecting your designers as you did in other part of your project, whether selecting your editor, writing coach, book shepherd, or printer.
Questions you might want to ask your potential designer:
- Can I see some recent samples of your work?
- What is your process in designing the cover/interior?
- What is your timeline for completing a project like this?
- What are your payment terms?
- Can I get all the final files after they are completed?
Browse Bookstores for Designs You Love
Lastly, to make this process easier, spend some time perusing your local bookstore and notice what you like and dislike about both covers and interiors. When you get into this process, you’ll be surprised at how many details truly go unnoticed to the reader.
This is the part of the publishing process that brings your book to life. Authors really enjoy seeing their cover come alive and what their words look like on paper that’s ready to print. You are in the final stages of the book production process, so keep up the momentum, and you’ll soon hold your book in your hands.