From 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. As my father used to say, it doesn’t cost any more to print a book that’s properly designed and laid out than it does to print one that’s a typographic train wreck, so why not do it right the first time?
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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.
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3. Running heads misbehaving: This seems to be a challenge for a lot of amateur book formatters. If a page is blank—and there are usually going to be a number of blank pages in your book—technically it’s not part of the text. After all, there’s no text on the page, is there? A blank page should be just that: blank, with nothing on it at all. By the same token, those “display” pages mentioned above shouldn’t have running heads—text at the top of the page that lists title, author, chapter, etc.—on them either. Yet many books I’ve seen from self-publishers show that the author just didn’t know that, or didn’t know how to turn the running heads off—and nothing looks worse to me than a chapter-opening page with a running head on it.