Editor’s Note: Please see the end of this article for a special offer on Book Design Made Simple and a free sample download, courtesy of the authors.
Are you a do-it-yourself self-publisher?
If you answered “Yes,” then today is a good day for you!
(“Fiona Raven and Glenna Collett are book designers with a combined 60 years of experience. After collaborating on designing books for self-publishing authors, they joined forces to write Book Design Made Simple, a 500-page comprehensive guide to designing and typesetting books for non-designers and designers alike. Fiona has designed hundreds of books for self-publishers, small presses, and first-time authors since 1995, from places as far-flung as Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Tonga. Glenna has designed more than 100 textbooks for large publishers, dozens of self-published books for individual authors, and she also teaches workshops on self-publishing.”—BookDesignMadeSimple.com)
I know it made me very happy, and I’m going to tell you why.
The book is titled, Book Design Made Simple. Here’s what the book’s website says to indie authors: “Do you want to create your book cover and/or pages yourself using Adobe InDesign? Well, now you can! Follow easy step-by-step instructions to create your own book design and typeset your pages.”
And that’s exactly what it is. Book Design Made Simple fills a huge void in the graphic arts and indie publishing bookshelf. Classic books on book design are fine for design students, but usually have little relation to what we do in today’s digital world.
Previously, we had Pete Masterson’s Book Design and Production, a solid book based on an earlier version of InDesign, but one that was, to be honest, not very well designed.
But what indie authors have wanted—and what they keep asking me for—is step by step instruction in creating industry standard books with today’s tools and for today’s book production requirements.
That’s what Book Design Made Simple delivers, and it does so beautifully.
But this book is much more than that.
A Massive Work, Elegant and Detailed
Book Design Made Simple is more than an explanation of how to design and produce a book, it’s virtually a course in self-publishing, too.
Starting with getting the InDesign software and proceeding through the basic steps to become a publisher, the authors lead readers by the hand through the process.
The tone of the book is helpful and encouraging throughout. Detailed instructions are provided on just about every task you might run into in creating a trade book with InDesign.
I particularly liked the many spreads that show a sample page (and many of the sample designs are well worth emulating) on one page, and all the specs needed to create the same effect on the facing page. That’s reader friendly!
In many cases the authors have come up with innovative ways to display information, like their amazingly efficient 2-page spread showing the parts of a book and how they come together.
To get an idea of the scope of the book, take a look at the 9 parts of the book, which also contains an extensive References section:
- Getting Started
- Creating Your Styles
- Formatting Your Pages
- Designing Your Pages
- Adding Shapes & Color
- Adding Images
- Designing Your Cover
- Preparing to Publish
Something users will appreciate about Book Design Made Simple are the many screenshots that the authors have fully annotated, showing you in some cases exactly the button to press to complete a task.
In many books, the simplest operations are overlooked, because the authors don’t realize that something so simple can confuse newcomers.
Fiona and Glenna never let that happen. They are with you the entire time, and take the time and trouble to point out even small things that will help you create your books more easily.
You’ll also appreciate the design of Book Design Made Simple. Most of the book is set in one of my favorite typefaces, Chaparral. The designers make great use of the sidebars, with copious notes, tips, and explanations scattered throughout.
As you can see from these illustrations, screenshots are used liberally, and the authors include many samples of text pages, part openers, and chapter openers, complete with all the InDesign specifications needed to reproduce them.
Even in a massive and detailed book like this, you still can’t fit everything. You won’t find much detailed information on kerning, and the discussion of book pricing is extremely short. I didn’t care for places where the authors mixed inches and picas in presenting style settings, and they didn’t include an actual CIP data block on their sample copyright page, and that’s a bit of a formatting challenge for a lot of folks.
In some cases, omissions are part of including more help than you might suspect. So while the authors very helpfully provide some basic instruction in image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop, they simply can’t dive into the many tools this program provides to achieve the same goals.
In other areas, InDesign gives you so many different ways to do things, it’s inevitable—and part of the creative fun—that different designers come up with various methods to get to the same place.
So while Fiona uses an empty paragraph return at the beginning of her chapter opens, that seems messy to me, and I prefer to control the page “drop” with the chapter opening master page.
However, this is all a way of saying that any author who wants to learn to create their own, professional quality book, will find in Book Design Made Simple all the information they need, presented in a clear, humane, and detailed manner. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
A Special Offer—33% Off
Fiona and Glenna, not satisfied with putting almost 3 years into this book, have made a very generous offer. For the next few days, they have reduced the price of the book by 33%.
This is a big book that’s expensive to produce. Why pay the $60 retail if you can get it for $40? PLUS, they are offering you free shipping in the U.S. and Canada.
And if you’ve ever thought you might like to be a book designer yourself, this is where I think you should start.
Just head here to check out the details and order your copy: Book Design Made Simple Special Sale
I asked Fiona and Glenna to give me a sample of the book so you can see how useful, elegant, and friendly it is. They sent me this PDF that contains the table of contents and chapters 5 and 6 from the book. You’re going to love it. Click the book cover to download your copy: