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Silver Spring, MD
United States


Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

Designing Your Memoir or Family History Book

Nan Barnes

When you complete the final edit of your draft manuscript of your memoir or personal history a final critical step remains before publication – book design. Book design combines decisions about elements of the book, style, organization, illustrations, layout, and sequence of components and cover design. Here are some of the things to consider in designing your book:

  • You begin by making decisions about the physical size of the book and the type of binding you want it to have. Should it be small (7” X 7”), standard (8” X 10”) or large format? Should it be portrait or landscape?

  • What about binding? Do you prefer hardback or soft cover?

  • Next you might consider readability. The size and font you select can have a lot to do with the way your reader perceives the book. What size margins do you want on the pages?

  • 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 illustrations be placed in the book? Which photographs do you want to feature by 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 re sufficiently skilled with programs like Photo Shop and Adobe InDesign you can design your book yourself, but most authors decide they need the help of a professional book designer.