While the term “self-publishing” includes the word self, not every part of the process has to be done on your own. Sometimes, you can pay a professional to help you with things you’re not ready or able to do on your own — like editing, marketing, or in this case, book design. And if you’re paying a professional, then you want to be professional yourself to give a good experience to both you and the person you’re working with. Luckily, I’m here to help you get organized beforehand.
(A note: this article is about interior design. Next week, we can discuss communication for cover design, which is a whole other beast to wrangle!)
So here are some questions to keep in mind as you prepare to contact a book designer.
What’s in the designer’s portfolio? What are their conditions and limitations? A professional designer should already have a website or a social media platform where they discuss their pay and their stipulations for the projects they take on, and any prior work. Make sure to look this over thoroughly beforehand. If they want you to provide them with specific information for the project, make sure to do that.
What size do you want your novel to be printed at? This is one piece of specific information that you’ll want to know before you ever contact the designer, and there are two things you should keep in mind here.
Firstly, your book’s final page (at least in paperback, as opposed to ebook) count will be affected by page size and font size, and the final page count will affect print costs.
Secondly, your size options will be limited based on what your publishing platforms offer. Some typical industry sizes are 5×8 in, 5.5×8.5 in, and 6×9 in. Measure the books in your house to get a feel for the size that you prefer, and research your publishing platforms!
What all belongs inside your novel? I recommend having a document of all the novel’s contents (properly edited!) that you can hand over to the designer. It’ll save them a lot of trouble and questions if everything has been organized and provided for them beforehand.
You should, at the bare minimum, include a copyright page, a dedication page, every (properly edited!) chapter, and an author biography in the document. And if it’s appropriate novel, you could ask the designer to incorporate a table of contents, a glossary, a world map, a promotional section for your other works, or other relevant pages as well. Just remember to include these in the document too. More complicated requests may also raise the cost of the design work.
What images do you want included? At the least, you’ll probably want a picture of yourself for the biography. Remember to take into account whether the size of your pictures is acceptable for print. An image that’s larger than needed can usually be sized down without a problem, but an image that’s smaller than needed will become pixelated if sized up.
If you’re unsure about whether an image is large enough or of good enough quality, that’s something to consult the designer about!
What are your design priorities? Is it important for you to have a large, easily-read font? Do you want those letter sections to be formatted differently than the rest of the chapter? If there are any special considerations you want for this book, tell the designer.
What genre and mood encapsulates your story? A hard sci-fi novel will be designed different than a YA contemporary, which will be designed differently from a poetry collection, which will be designed differently from an LGBTQ+ fantasy… Everything from the font to the chapter titles will be affected by the kind of story you’re telling.
Finally, if you already have a cover, you should show it to the designer. Having the cover for reference will help them create an interior that suits it. They may even be able to take elements from the cover and make use of them in the interior, such as using the same font as the title for the cover page and accent work. The end result should be a harmonious book, pleasing from the inside to the out.
And that’s it for communication advice today! I hope this is aids you in your own publishing journey. If you find this helpful, then you can support me as a creator by buying me a Ko-fi. Thank you, and have a lovely day.
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