We hear a lot about the importance of a great book cover, but what about the inside of your book? Looks are important there, too.
Interior design is one of the major decisions you’ll have to make about your self-published book. But it’s not as daunting as you might think, even if right now you are not even sure what “interior design” is.
Start by looking at books on your bookshelf or at your local bookstore to get ideas. What do you like about their layout and formatting, and what do you not like? Make notes so you can use these ideas when you make decisions about your own book.
Here are some specific design details to consider about your book:
Trim Size. The trim size refers to the actual dimensions of your book. It can be anything from a tiny pocket-sized paperback to a large, wide art book.
Books come in standard sizes, so choose the one that’s most appropriate for yours. Many trade paperbacks are 6” x 9” or 5-1/2” x 8-1/2”, but there are a number of standard sizes. It is important to choose a standard size for your book, because that will affect whether it is accepted by a distributor or not.
Don’t forget to consider the visual aspects of your book. If there are many illustrations or graphs, you may want to make the book bigger. For example, if it is a workbook you may want to go up to 8-1/2” x 11”.
Margins and Gutters. Margins and gutter are important for making your book attractive and easy to read.
The gutter is the inner part of the book pages near the spine. The gutter should have enough space that the words nearest the inner spine aren’t difficult to read. That means that the more pages your book has, the larger the gutter should be. Thick books are harder to open fully and some of the type may be obscured if the gutter isn’t large enough.
Type. Choose a typeface that is appropriate for your book. Typefaces have personalities, and you want to choose one that is a good fit with the subject and mood of your book. Keep it simple, though. You don’t want a font that is ornate and hard to read.
Don’t get carried away with a lot of fonts, but you probably want one font for your body text and another for chapter headings. Generally you want a serif font, such as Garamond, Palatino or something similar for the body, and a sans serif font (such as Gill Sans or Avenir) for the headings. To get ideas of which fonts work well together, take a look at https://fontpair.co/.
Images. If you have tables, graphs, or other images in your book, you need to decide where they will be placed. The graphic can take up the whole page width, or you can have a column of text at the side or have the graphic at the top or the bottom of the page and text on the rest of the page.
If you are planning to use color images, check the prices for color printing to see if you can keep the sale price of your book competitive. Color printing, even if it is only on a few pages, may send the price of printing your book sky high.
Paper Color. It may be best not to use bright white paper as the contrast with black text can make it hard to read. Use cream or off-white instead. Look at competing books in your market to see what color and weight of paper they use.
Once you’ve made your design decisions, look it over to make sure it looks professional and credible. You may wonder if readers are even aware of these parts of your book. They may not always be conscious of things such as font choices and layout, but poor choices are likely to affect their reaction to your book.
Not ready to tackle layout and design on your own? You can hire a designer to do it for you, but it that isn’t in your budget you might consider one of the templates from The Book Designer. They work with Microsoft Word, Apple Pages or Adobe InDesign and you do not have to be a professional designer to get professional results. I have used them for several of my books and I love the results I was able to get! There are templates for fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, picture books and more. Take a look at the templates here. [aff. link]