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book design posts

book design posts

What Can a Designer do that I can't Learn Myself?

Posted by Michelle White on April 9, 2017 at 6:35 PM

Your book is written, your editing is complete, now you just send the word doc to the printer, right? Well, you could, but if you want your book to be taken seriously you will need to learn the ins and outs of book design, typography, and prepress. Spending a little extra time and money to work with a professional designer could save you a lot of extra time and money as well as produce a more professional-looking and better-selling book in the end.


Word processing programs are meant for processing words. Design programs are meant for designing pages. Word processors are perfect for typing your manuscript in a user-friendly way that allows you to focus on writing. There are also desktop publishing programs that are meant for the amateur designer for personal use or for simple business materials. No matter how beautiful your document looks in your word processing or desktop publishing document, it cannot be used directly by your printer to produce your book. Professional designers and compositors use professional applications like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress to prepare books for publication.


Some authors buy these programs and and teach themselves how to prepare their books for print. However, a few months of study cannot replace years of experience and mistakes can be very costly. Pages need to be set up properly in order to get predictable results. If the wrong types of fonts are used, for example, it can result in unpredictable line endings and page breaks and possibly even alter the appearance of the letters. If your type is not properly set on a page grid with appropriate margins it will look amateur and self-published and undermine your professional writing. Photos also must be in the right format with the right resolution and the right colorspace. A good printer may be able to work with what you provide, however, they will have to spend a considerable amount of time preparing the document before it can go to press, resulting in additional costs. A professional designer will be familiar with the printing and prepress process. He or she knows the terminology to clearly communicate with the printer which streamlines the procedure, saving you time and money.


A professional book designer brings not only technical expertise, but invaluable design experience as well. He or she will take into consideration the purpose and desired psychological and emotional effect of your book and create a design accordingly. The choice of visual elements such as font, color, and images will have a major impact on your reader. Your design can appear energetic, artistic, child-friendly, business-like, or comforting and supportive. It also must be visually well organized to serve its intended purpose in the best possible way, particularly with a non-fiction book. A good designer will work closely with you to create the right look and feel of your book considering the subject matter, your target audience and your budget. 


Quality design and prepress is a very important part of the publishing process, and its value cannot be underestimated. If you enlist the help of a professional before going to press, you can avoid costly file preparation time, printing complications and have an attractive, well designed and better selling book.

Categories: Self-publishing, Book Design, Book Layout

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