How to Design the Interior Layout of Your Self-Published Book

Your book’s interior should be designed specifically to facilitate reading, consistently convey the book’s tone or brand, and meet industry standards.

Print Books

For print books, some retailers (such as Amazon) can provide interior templates that allow you to simply copy-and-paste your content. You can also license pre-designed templates from vendors or hire a professional interior designer to format the manuscript pages and design your book layout in preparation for production.

Interior Design Tips

  • In print books, each element or section has an expected page location, either verso or recto. When you open a print book and hold it in a reading position, verso indicates the page on the left-hand side of the book (these pages are always even-numbered), and recto indicates the page on the right-hand side of the book (these pages are always odd-numbered). In general, all new sections begin on the recto or right-hand page (the copyright page and series page are notable exceptions).
  • Pages located in the front matter are labeled with roman numerals. Pages located after the front matter are identified with numerical digits.
  • Running heads (the title or author listed in the header of each page) are not used on any section that consists of only one page or on the first page of any multiple-page section (such as a chapter or introduction).
  • A pre-designed template or your interior designer will place your sections or elements in the proper location, verso or recto, and number the pages correctly.
  • Review your printer’s guidelines to determine margins, bleed, font size, image, and grayscale requirements.
  • If including an index, hire the indexer once the final layout is complete. The index will be the last element added prior to locking the manuscript.
  • One the layout is complete, and the manuscript is essentially “locked”, hire a proofreader to do a final check of the book. A proofreader ensures the final form of the book is consistent and free of errors. A proofreader will review the manuscript for typos and problems with the page makeup, such as font sizes, spacing, layout, end-of-line breaks, running heads, widows and orphans. A proofreader will also ensure the Table of Contents is accurate and the page designations match referenced chapters, headings and subheadings.
  • Most printers require a PDF version of the manuscript. Review your printer’s specific requirements (such as embedding fonts and colors) for creating the PDF for submission or use a professional print book formatting service to convert your file correctly. If working with an interior design company, they will provide the properly formatted and converted file for you.

eBooks

eBooks have different “interior design” considerations than print books. For eBooks, the focus is on proper document formatting and conversion to an e-reader file format, such as epub or mobi.

eBook Formatting & Conversion Options

Option 1: Many retailers and aggregators will allow you to upload your manuscript as a Word document and convert it free-of-charge to eBook format if the Word document is formatted correctly. Review the vendor’s guidelines for instructions to format the manuscript document and upload it to the platform.

(Professional interior design templates that have two-way design capability, such as those purchased from Book Design Templates, should already be formatted correctly and simply require conversion.)

Option 2: Use software or apps that format and/or convert the manuscript to eBook format (such as Vellum). Major online retailers, including Amazon and Apple Books, provide free eBook formatting apps for releasing digital books on their respective platforms. Apple's app is Pages (available on the App Store), while Amazon offers Kindle Create

Option 3: Hire an eBook formatting and conversion service, such as Book Baby.

   

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