Basics of Self Publishing Your Book, Part 1

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I am a freelance designer and production artist for books and e-books. I have very little to say on the topic of sales and marketing, but I’ll do my best to make a beautiful book that will fly off the shelves!

My goal is to provide authors with valuable tips and advice for working with designers and production artists to make the best book possible.

  1. Preparing Files for Design and Layout/Production. To save time and money, it’s always a good idea to provide ALL of the text and art files before layout begins. It’s okay to just send some sample chapters at the design phase. The materials for design should include the book cover, if available, and sample chapters that contain all of the elements that will appear throughout the book.

    It’s not vital, but the Table of  Contents file tells the designer the length of the average and longest chapter titles. Another great reason to send all of the chapters at the beginning is that it’s the only way to determine the length of the book. It’s easy enough to adjust the type size before layout begins.

    The book cover provides a lot of valuable information, although it’s common for authors to finish the cover after the interior pages have been completed. The cover is all about marketing and catching the eye of potential readers. Book interiors tend to be more conservative, which aids in readability. I rarely use anything other than black for the main text, although I love using color for subheads and anywhere else I can get away with it. I just don’t want to distract readers and make it more difficult to concentrate on the text.  Some of my favorite interior designs are based on elements picked up from book covers, which also can lead to a more elegant product if the two are coordinated.

  2. Working with Your Book Designer. Many self publishing authors are working on their first or second books. I’ve produced well over one thousand books over the years and have a lot of ideas on the “best” way to do things. That said, I’m always learning new things from my self published authors and have learned to be very flexible in my processes.
    My first step when I have the book files in hand is to determine the book length. There are many things I can do to meet an author’s projected book length. Aside from the monetary concerns, I want the author to be happy with the finished product, and length is a key feature.

    My next step is to begin building the structure of the book. I usually begin with a chapter opener page, which contains many of the key elements of the book. I can work on this page for many hours unless I get lucky and something pops out right away.

    Next I layout the rest of the chapter and pick up the elements that don’t appear on the chapter opener. Then I begin working out several variations of the chapter opener, running heads, and page numbers.