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Book Design - The Overlooked Essentials

Book design involves more than just preparing a manuscript and adding a cover with a title. On the contrary, there are a few key design elements that should be considered that can significantly impact the success of your book. In order to attract the attention of potential readers you will need to create a package that is unique and captivating.

There are 3 aspects of book design that I believe can elevate the impact of your book - cover design, choice of images and internal layout.


Be Thoughtful About Your Cover Design

The cover is your first chance to make a good impression with potential readers. Your cover image has to be eye catching. That does not mean you have to have an elaborate cover image. What it means is giving thought to a catchy title and an image that complements your manuscript. Choose an appropriate font style that suits the tone of the book. When I published my first children’s book Love Has Wrinkles I received a critique that the cover resembled more of a cookbook than a children’s book. I revised the cover to include a grandmother reading to her grandson and used brighter toned colours. It was definitely more effective and appropriate for my target audience. (see image above)

Cover design also extends to the back cover. Allow the image from the cover to wrap around the back if possible. A well written blurb is ideal and will capture the attention of a potential reader. If you are thinking of including an author image and biography on the back these should be well crafted.

Use Quality Images

Your illustrations and photos should be of a high quality. This is not an area that you want to scrimp on. Illustrations don’t necessarily have to be elaborate, full page, colored drawings. They can be spot illustrations that are ink drawings. This will be determined by your genre and budget. However, they should be artfully done. If you are including photographs they should be of a high quality.

Keep focused on the role of images. They are to support your text, to clarify and enhance. So it is essential that these are easily distinguishable and are able to further explain what the content is exploring.

Creative Interior Formatting

Many of the print-on-demand (POD) publishing companies offer a range of formatting options. For example, paper type. If your book will have a lot of images choose a white glossy paper. If you are publishing a book that is historical fiction you could use an off-white paper with textured edges to give you an older old world feel. Some POD publishers have an option for a textured cover.

In addition, you can experiment with the interior layout of the text. You can use a variety of font styles and sizes for emphasis. For example, you can use a larger bolder text for onomatopoeic words (Shhh or BOOM). You could incorporate spot illustrations and adjust layout to mimic the shape of the picture. This is a particularly effective approach that can be used in children’s books to create greater visual interest.

Writing the manuscript is just one piece in developing the overall package that will become your published book. It is essential that you also pay attention to your cover design, the quality of the illustrations and experiment with the formatting and layout of the text.

These are just a few tweaks that will help to engage potential readers.

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