Joel Friedlander

Top Five DIY Book Layout Mistakes

10 February 2018

From book designer Joel Friedlander via Book Life:

With more and more authors taking the production of their books into their own hands, more and more of those books look… strange. That’s not a good thing for either authors or their readers.

Book design used to be a pretty arcane branch of graphic design, pursued by a handful of practitioners, many of whom were employed by typesetters and publishing houses. Like many other specialties, only the insiders knew or cared about the intricacies of long-form typography and all the small nuances that go into creating beautiful books.

Along with editors, these professionals made sure that the books they produced conformed to long-established publishing industry standards. That’s important when you’re sending your book to store or chain buyers, to media bookers, to reviewers, or to anyone who is used to looking at traditionally published books as part of her job.

So, it really behooves authors who decide to become DIY publishers to educate themselves as to how books are supposed to look, how they are constructed, and what book professionals expect to see.

. . . .

1. Blank right-hand pages: It’s very common, especially in nonfiction books, to have blank left-hand pages, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This occurs naturally if your chapters always open on right-hand pages. But if you’ve designed your book to use a two-page spread as your chapter opening (for instance, with an illustration on the left-hand page and text on the right-hand page), you run the risk of having a blank right-hand page immediately preceding the spread (since there’s no guarantee that the preceding chapter will end on a right-hand page). This is a no-no in book layout. We never want to have a blank right-hand page. To solve it, either adjust the typography, or have quotations or artwork on hand that will augment the message of your book, and put those on the otherwise-blank right-hand page.

. . . .

5. Odd-numbered pages on the left: Okay, I saved the best for last. Or is that the worst? Just think about this for a moment. When you open a book, the very first page you see is p. 1. There is no logical way that p. 1 can be on the left, because then it wouldn’t be the first page. This is an ironclad rule in book layout: all odd-numbered pages in your book should be right-hand pages. Make sure you get this right.

Link to the rest at Book Life

When to Self-Publish: A Publisher’s Perspective

25 February 2014

From The Book Designer:

To self-publish or not, that is the big question facing many of today’s authors. Today, Steven Booth, a publisher, offers his thoughts on what should be factors in this decision making process.

. . . .

Many authors are confused about when it is best to publish through traditional (including small press) publishers, and when to self-publish their work. I see this question every day on Facebook, and I hear it often in the writers and publishers groups I am associated with.

As an author who has self-published (without an imprint) as well as publishing my work through my small press company (I’ll get to that in a moment), I can understand the confusion about the pros and cons of publishing.

Here’s what I tell every author who will stand still long enough:

  1. If the work isn’t good enough for a publisher, it probably isn’t good enough to be self-published.
  2. If the work is good enough that a publisher wants to publish it, then seriously consider self-publishing before you sign the contract.

. . . .

But publishing is a business, and a good publisher will have a marketing niche that they can be successful in. Going outside of that niche is not cost-effective. But if you self-publish then your marketing niche is exactly what you have in your hands, and you will probably do a better job at marketing your own book than any publisher can—especially if it is a tough genre to label.

The caveat to self-publishing if you are offered a contract is that you have to remember that self-publishing is a business, and should be treated like one.

A self-publisher, when they do it correctly, is a small press with one author… you. For example, are you prepared to get:

  • a fictitious business name
  • a business license from your municipality
  • start and maintain a website
  • engage in and maintain a social media presence
  • have a bank account for your small press that is separate from your personal account
  • work on marketing your book at least once a day for the lifetime of your book

If not, then perhaps you would want to seriously consider traditional publishing?

Link to the rest at The Book Designer and thanks to Ant for the tip.

Top 5 Book Design Layout Errors Illustrated

20 June 2013

From book designer Joel Friedlander:

People often ask me, “How can you tell if a book has been designed by an amateur? I mean, it’s just a book, right?”

This reminds me of the author whose book I was designing a few years ago, who asked me, “Book design? What’s there to design? You just put the page numbers on, right?”

Well… no, actually.

. . . .

I’ve gathered together what seem to me to be the 5 most common layout mistakes that authors make when they start to design their own books.

These are the screw-ups that I see most often in self-published books. Just be eliminating these errors, your book will start to stand out from the tidal wave of indie books being published every day.

. . . .

2. Rampant running heads

Header

Unfortunately all too common, it looks like the author couldn’t figure out how to have running heads on some pages and not others. Or, they thought every page should have one, but display pages, like this chapter opening page, don’t need and shouldn’t have, a running head.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer