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Book It! 5 Tips to Successful Book Design

books-1149959_1280 Books are a rewarding and challenging experience to write.  And just as so when it comes to designing and creating one.  Like the structure to writing your book, there is a similar process to keep in mind when it comes time to prep it for press.  To keep production and edits low, here are 5 tips that can save a lot of time when it comes to putting it all together:

1. Start with the End in Mind

Just like writing a story, you think about the ending so that there is a logical progression from the beginning. Here are things to consider about your finished product before even beginning chapter one:
  • the type of binding (coil binding, saddle-stitch, perfect binding)
  • the size of the book (a sleek 8.5 x 11? Portrait or landscape? Or maybe something similar to a paperback size?)
  • thickness and page count
  • color and black and white pages
These affect your overall costs towards production, and therefore your markup to break even.  How big is the audience?  How are the books used?  Is your ROI measured on audience readership or a professional presentation?

2. A Picture Can Say a Thousand Words

If you're dealing with imagery in your book, you want the best illustrations to relate to the text.  Don't make a reference manual with steps on one page, only to have the user need to refer to "ex. 1-4" on the next page. If it's a storybook, knowing which pictures are for what chapter or page can save valuable time. Yearbooks or membership books will have a slew of portraits and names.  Planning this out on a spreadsheet program will save you hours and headaches worth of edits and placement.  Click here to learn more on this subject. You are also relying on how much of that content can fit onto the page.  Knowing if images are landscape, portrait, square, or even full spreads can save time in your strategy when laying it all out.

3. Trim the Fat, not the Content

If you know what kind of binding method is holding your book together, then you have some idea of where your margins from the edge should be.  Consider punching and coil binding. Most hole-punching in this fashion require at least a half-inch inward from the spine.  Your margins on all other sides will just need about a quarter-inch to three-eighths (preferably).  This is because you will consider where the coil is as your page edge because content can potentially be punched or cut at a quarter-inch from the paper edge inside the spine. Another example is perfect bound books (paperbacks).  Based on the thickness from your page count, you are gluing the inside spine to the cover.  When you open the book, it bends and loses some of the inside of the page.  It may vary, but three-fourths of an inch is a good starting point to ensure most books don't leave content getting lost inside the book. It's also crucial to leave about an eighth-inch bleed of the artwork, if any in your document.  This ensures you don't get any "white" from unprinted edges creeping up in the final product.  Especially in perfect bound production, when the final book is glued together, a final cut process is made, so your margins are crucial because books may indeed be anywhere from a 1/16 to 1/8 inch smaller than the original size intended.

4. You did a Spell Check, Did you PROOFREAD?

We can run a spell check and clean up all those typos, but what about phone numbers, names, cities, and other content that may get lost in the search?  Having a few extra eyes inspecting your work is crucial.  When designing books, your eyes may start to focus more on the placement of your content and photos. It's an easy trap for content to get mixed up or incorrectly typed.  Coming back after a break and reviewing everything helps this, too.

5. Request a Hard-Copy

After staring at a screen hours on end, it's helpful to see a preview of the final product.  Seeing it on paper, you may realize if your margins are looking good, if the font size is what you originally intended, and any color or production issues that may arise from images.  You might even catch something you missed while in the rush to design the work. With our experience in page-turners, we've seen these steps play an important role to getting the book in the hands of our clients' readers.  If you have questions or even some ideas you've found saving you time, let us know.  We love to make sure we've got you covered, cover to cover!

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