Recently I had to put together a presentation on book design for self-publishers.
This is really a great chance to think about how to communicate a visual discipline into a coherent storyline about the role that design plays in creating books.
I have a pet peeve about presentations that include slides. Have you ever been to one of those where the speaker just changed slides and then proceeded to read, word for word, exactly what was on the slide? That drives me nuts.
So I knew I wasn’t going to do that, and I enjoy the interaction I have with the attendees, so I decided on a very loose framework that would suggest ideas about design rather than legislate a set of rules. That’s the kind of thing you always write down when you’re at the conference because it seems to make so much sense, but then you never look at it again.
Here’s what I came up with:
Book Design: What Self-Publishers Need to Know in 17 Short, Illustrated and Awesomely Simple Steps
- Book design is a specialty, mostly unknown before print on demand became popular and lots of people started publishing books. It’s also how we turn manuscripts into books
- Self-publishers need to know enough to make sure their book is suited to the goals they’ve set.
- Interior design uses typography (design with typefaces) to present the author’s work in the best way to readers.
- Readability and easy access to the information in the book are aims of good book design.
- You have to decide whether you’ll hire a book designer . . . or do it yourself.
- Cover design: Hire a designer no matter what kind of budget you have.
- Book designers are aware of readers’ expectations and the conventions that rule the design of books.
- If you put the work in, you can do a decent job yourself (fine for ebooks), but you can’t expect it to look like a professional book.
- The more complex the structure of your book, the more challenging it is to design.
- Look at the elements of book design to understand how a book designer sees them.
- Following the development of a book design process you can see it change from a manuscript into a book.
- Book cover design is a marketing decision, and you’ll need to approach it as a publisher, not an author.
- If you want to compete in the marketplace, hire a professional designer or book shepherd.
- If you don’t want to compete in the marketplace, enjoy yourself and make your book exactly as you want to. Have fun!
- 10 mistakes you can avoid that make your book look like an amateur production.
- For many kinds of books, design can have a major effect on your sales, and your satisfaction.
- To find out more about book design and self-publishing, subscribe to the blog at: www.TheBookDesigner.com
Okay, you’ll have to forgive me for that little plug at the end.
The presentation ran for an hour, during which time I had plenty of opportunity to explore these points with the attendees. I supplemented the presentation with about 25 illustrations on slides so people could see exactly what I was talking about.
I recorded the whole presentation and right now I’m in the last stages of getting it ready to put up for sale as a webinar (along with a presentation I did on Author Blogging).
Here’s my question: Considering the value this presentation has as a training or educational tool, do you know someone who could benefit from it? I’m interested, because this is new for me. Leave me your thoughts in the comments.
Photo by Horia Varlan