What is book layout design?
“I have seen too many books with great covers but horribly designed content. It’s like great packaging, but when you open it, the food inside looks brown and boring. It may still be nourishing, but my appetite is gone.”
That’s according to Erik Spiekermann, one of the world’s most respected book designers and typographers. Book layout design, or “typesetting,” is the art of creating a book’s interior. It involves all of the decisions that influence the way readers experience the content of your printed book: fonts, spacing, the styling of chapter headings, margins, etc. A book layout designer will handle all these for you and produce a print format that lines up with the expectations of the readers of your genre. Many authors underestimate the importance of this step and fail to see how book layout design can actually mean the difference between a good and bad reading experience. A strong book interior is balanced and aesthetically pleasing in its choice of font, type size, line spacing, chapter headings, and margins — all of which should come together to form a perfect whole. Of course, the more varied the book in terms of content (charts, illustrations, photos, recipes, poems, etc.), the more important the work of the typesetter becomes. But where can you find a professional typesetter with the right experience to turn your manuscript into a beautiful book?
How can I find the right book layout designer for me?
When searching for a book interior designer, pay close attention to the professional’s past experience and sample portfolio. Reedsy allows you to search for professionals by genre so that you can find designers with a track record in your niche. You can also browse through each designer’s gallery on Reedsy and get a taste of their portfolio — a vital step if you want to make sure that their style and aesthetic are the right fit for your particular book. Instead of pairing you up with a faceless professional as many other services do, Reedsy enables you to pick your own designer. The next step is to simply select up to five book designers and request their quotes. If you match with one of your choices, then the collaboration can begin! Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the process before and during your collaboration: every designer will welcome your interest in their craft. Above all, trust your designer to do the job, and they’ll repay your confidence in full with a beautiful book interior.
Is book interior design just for print books?
No. If you’re only publishing an ebook, you also need to pay attention to your book interior design. Though digital formats with their standard layouts reduce the scope of the work for a traditional book layout designer, it also means that you need to produce perfectly-formatted electronic files: a mobi file for Amazon and an EPUB for every other major e-retailer. A badly formatted file will create an unreadable book. Of course, this formatting and conversion process will change in complexity depending on your book: such things as bulleted lists, charts, tables, and graphics particularly need to be taken under consideration so that the reading experience is not compromised.
But isn’t formatting something I can do myself?
A few years ago, ebook formatting was something that you had to learn to do on your own — through a lot of trial and error. Similarly, print layout design required expansive knowledge of InDesign software, margin and spacing best practices, fonts and typography, etc. Since the release of our Reedsy Book Editor, the game has changed. You can now produce clean .epub and .mobi files for free in a matter of seconds. With our available print templates, you can also produce perfectly typeset, print-ready PDF files — just like a professional designer would. However, our Reedsy Book Editor does not yet cater for every single case scenario. If your book contains special elements such as tables or graphics that cannot simply be embedded as images, or if it requires a complex layout with text flowing around images (e.g. cookbooks, photo books, etc.), we strongly recommend you hire a professional typesetter to perfect its book interior design.
Differentiating yourself through innovative book layout design
Book interior design doesn’t have to be a burden. Like typography, typesetting represents an opportunity for every author and publisher out there to differentiate themselves and establish a brand. Though digital formats already offer standardized layouts, print books offer countless experimental possibilities. Here’s a perfect example of an author who took advantage of this opportunity and pushed the boundaries of what is now possible. Experiment with different methods and styles to find a layout design that works for you and stands out to others!