Archive for July, 2012

What to Look for in a Book Designer

Add comment July 8th, 2012

Without revisiting the reasons why it’s a good idea for a self-publisher to engage a book designer, let’s just move forward and assume that decision has been made. So what, then, are some of the things to look for when you’re deciding on a book designer?

I maintain that the most important thing for a self-publisher to seek in a book designer is the clear signal that the two of you can communicate smoothly. It’s important to be enough on the same wavelength that the designer understands what it is you’re saying you want in your book’s design and layout.

Parenthetically, it’s likewise important to the designer for there to be a good, straight line of communication, To start with, it helps him or her in deciding whether or not the client and material are a good fit with the designer’s skill set, way of working, and temperament.

I’ve only turned down two book projects for reasons other than price. Both times it had to do with what the books were about: the first explored violence as a tactic to get one’s way and the second was pornography. The fact that, in both instances, I was able to discuss clearly with these potential clients what their books were about and what they were looking for me to do helped cut to the chase. I cut to the chase before any serious amount of time was invested.

The prime way I get out my take on book design and and how I approach each book design and layout project is by blogging. I blog right here, as well as by guesting on the blogs of others. So I have a really good feel for the benefits of blogging. I highly recommend it for designers; and I especially recommend that potential buyers of book design services look for blogs by book designers and explore them.

Once you speak with a designer and read what he or she has written about designing books, you should be in a position to understand how that designer uses typefaces, white space, test area proportions, and all the other tools and smarts the book designer can use to make your book special.

Why You Need a Book Designer/ Layout Artist

Add comment July 2nd, 2012

In no particular order …

  • To make sure you use proper ellipses … with space around them
  • To guard against widows and orphans (If you don’t know, please look it up before you self publish your first book.)
  • To see to it that only a single wordspace follows the end of a sentence
  • To prevent stacks of more than two hyphens or the same word at the end of a line
  • To give a page of type proper leading and margins, so the white space makes reading comfortable, and the wordspacing is never wide enough to drive a truck through
  • To choose typefaces that somehow “go with” the text
  • To prevent the running of leader dots from the end of chapter titles to page numbers in Tables of Contents
  • To make sure the book looks typeset—no extra lines of white space—rather than typewritten

And these are just a few of the things I’ll do to make sure your book doesn’t look like an amateur hour production.


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