The Book Layout -Part 1 - Print Books



What is a book layout? The layout is the internal formatting of your book; everything from the Title to About the Author.

Go grab a book off of your nearest bookshelf and take a look at it. Notice how the headers alternate between pages? Notice how the page numbers are spaced?  Notice the different fonts used? Notice how chapter pages lack both page numbers and headers?  Notice that nifty extra-large capital letter at the beginning of the first chapter paragraph? These are just a few of the things that need to be set up during the layout stage of book design.

As a self-publisher you are already fighting an uphill battle. Though your book might be the next Twilight or Mockingjay, it will already start off with a stigma because you self-published it. Things are changing in the publishing world self-publishing or Indie publishing are becoming  much more mainstream, however they still have not garnered the prestige of their traditionally published counterparts. What that means for you, the self-published author, is that you must do that much more to make sure your book is indistinguishable, in quality, from others on the bookshelf.
To really nail down what your book should look like inside, you need to look at its piers.  Take 10 or so traditionally published books from your genre and go through them with a fine tooth comb. Note the standards in their layout so you can try to mimic them.

So, now that you know what a book should look like, how do you recreate it?

On paper it sounds pretty easy.  Change a few fonts here, create some page breaks there, and add in a few page numbers the poof, a bright shiny new book!

Once you actually try to duplicate what you see in printed books, you find out how difficult it can be. 

While word is great for general word processing, it can be very difficult to use when formatting books. Trying to get page numbers to show up on some pages but not others will provide a bit of a challenge. Same goes for alternating headers that only appear within chapters but not on title pages, acknowledgement pages, about the author pages, or copyright pages. Drop Caps doesn’t ever work as it was intended and usually adds extra spacing to your lines. In short, it creates a lot of headaches.

Even though it is a headache, book layout can be done in word. It is, however, going to be a frustrating and time consuming process. Be prepared for long hours. For the do-it-yourself publisher, this is going to be your cheapest option.

There are some other alternatives if you just don’t want to deal with the added stress. For those choosing to use a service, I believe Lulu, CreateSpace, and many others offer layout and design as part of their packages. You can also hire out for this too. There are many companies out there who specialize in layout (This will cost you some money. Around $200-$400).

There are also many programs the pro’s use (Quark and InDesign come to mind). They are available for anyone to purchase and use but they will cost you a pretty penny.  I was lucky enough to stumble across a program that works within Word. I found it on Self-pub.net and it was quite helpful and only cost around $40.

http://www.self-pub.net
Book Design Wizard 2.0
What this program does is standardize things for you via VBA coded templates. You answer some questions about your book and plug in your layout desires, (e.g. what fonts to use for chapter headings, title pages, etc…) and it creates a template for you to work within.

I found it to be extremely helpful. It still took me about three days to get the book layout exactly as I wanted it. For the do-it-yourselfer, this is probably the best happy medium you will find.

I’m sure this is not the only program of its kind out there, do a Google search for book layout templates and programs. If you don’t like this on, you can probably find plenty to suit your needs.

Comments

Rayvenne Black said…
Thanks for sharing that link to that software. I have InDesign but haven't even begun to mess with formatting just yet. Still slightly scared of it :)
Katie S said…
No problem. Glad to share. This software was a godsend!