If you have finished writing and revising your memoir or family history book, you may imagine that completing your manuscript means you're done. But authors who self-publish have a a final critical step to take before publication – book design. Book design combines decisions about elements of the book, style, organization, illustrations, layout, and cover design. The choices you make about the design of your book will give it the unique character you wish to create.
Here are some of the things to consider when designing your book:
• Begin by making decisions about the physical size of the book. Should it be small (7” X 7”), standard (8” X 10”) or large format? Should it be portrait or landscape?
• What about binding? Choose a sewn binding over mere glue if you want the book to last. Do you prefer hardback or soft cover?
• Next you might consider readability. The font you select can have a lot to do with the way your reader perceives the book. Do you want a large type format for easy reading? This will determine the size of the text and margins.
• What elements should your book include? Do you want a table of contents, acknowledgement, dedication, preface, epilogue? Should content be organized into sections or chapters?
• How do you want to illustrate your book? Do you want to use photographs, documents or memorabilia? Where should the illustrations be placed in the book?
• Which photographs do you want to feature (by making them large, or even giving them a full page)? Some illustrations may perfectly illustrate a story included in the text and should be placed near that story. But not every illustration is so literally connected to a specific story. To include more loosely related photos they might be grouped together between chapters. The illustrations make a nice break from the text.
• What should your cover look like? What do you want on the dust jacket? Which photographs do you want to use on the front and back covers? They should be in excellent condition and ideally are most powerful and symbolic of the stories you have to tell. What would be the most esthetically pleasing color scheme? What text do you want on the covers, spine and flaps of the dust jacket? What font will best complete your cover?
If you are sufficiently skilled, once you have made these decisions, you can carry them out using software like Adobe Creative Suite. However, you may want to seek help in designing your book. Many authors hire professional book designers to handle the design process.
At Stories To Tell, we offer custom book design services. We provide a Design Kit to streamline these choices. Your Stories To Tell editor, who is familiar with the content and purpose of your book, can be an excellent guide as you make these design decisions.