If you’re working with a publisher on your book, you don’t have to worry layout and design, because your publisher takes care of it. However, if you’re an Authorneer, then you’re also more than likely an Independent or Indie Author and therefore must deal with it yourself. In this episode of The Author’s Switch, I talk about things you need to consider during this phase of the book writing and publishing process.

Audio for Episode 9: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 4 – Layout and Design

Runtime: 13 minutes, 35 seconds

Transcript for Episode 9: The Authorneer’s Journey, Part 4 – Layout and Design

NOTE: Due to some ad libbing, this may not be an exact transcript.

Hello! And welcome to The Author’s Switch, a podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author’s Switch to success in their mind. This is Episode number 9. If you missed any past episodes – especially episodes 3, 5 and 7, in October, December, and January – go to authorswitch.com to find them.

I’m your host Carma Spence, author of five books, including the award-winning and bestselling Public Speaking Super Powers.

You may be wondering why I emphasized catching episodes 3, 5 and 7 of this podcast. Well, in those episodes I talked about the first, second and third steps in the Authorneer’s Journey, and in this episode, I’m going to share the fourth step. These episodes are part of an eight-episode series on the Authorneer’s journey.

Now, I assure you that each episode can stand on its own and you will gain valuable information about the various parts of the writing, publishing, and marketing a book journey from each episode individually. However, they will help you more effectively if you listen to them all because they will give you a more holistic view of what goes into making a living as an author.

As a quick recap of the Authorneer’s Journey so far:

  • In Part One, I talked about Marketing and how you need to think about it before you even start writing your book.
  • In Part Two, I talked about the pre-work, the steps you take to set yourself up for success, such as creating an outline that practically writes the book for you!
  • And last month, in Part Three, I talked about writing and editing.

Now on to Part Four: Layout and Design!

If you’re working with a publisher you don’t have to worry about this part, because your publisher takes it from here. However, if you’re an Authorneer, then you’re also more than likely an Independent or Indie Author and therefore must deal with layout and design yourself.

But before you jump into the layout and design, there are few decisions you need to make because they will impact the design of both the cover and the interior of your book.

Decision #1: In what format or formats will your book be made available? Paperback, hardcover, or eBook? I recommend both eBook and paperback, but many authors only do eBook. If you want to use the book to get speaking gigs, then a hardcover edition is a good idea.

Decision #2: If you are publishing a physical book, what size will it be? Six inches by nine inches is the most common size, but other sizes are also available. Be aware that the size of the book can affect the page count.

Decision #3: Do you plan to create an audio book version, as well?

With the answers to these questions in mind, you can now start thinking about the layout and design. Some authors do the design work themselves. And, if you happen to have the design chops, this is a good way to same some dough. My first three books I did all the design work on. So, it is a viable option.

However, if you can swing it, I recommend you consider these other options – even if you have the design chops. Why? Because you can get too close to your book and having someone else design the cover and the interior gives it a fresh and modern look and feel. Here are your other options:

  1. Find freelance book cover and interior designers and work with them to create your book.
  2. Find an agency that provides these services to create your book.
  3. Hold a 99Designs.com contest to find designs and designers you like to create your book.

Let me go over the pros and cons of each one, as I see them, so you can make an educated choice for your book, budget, and personality.

Option 1: Work with independent freelancers.

There are a lot of talented independent freelance designers out there and many of them have chosen to specialize in book cover, book interior or sometimes book cover and interior design.

The pros are that when you find a good one, you get good quality work and someone who becomes a partner in making your book a success through its design.

The cons can be that it may be hard to find a good designer, and when you do, they usually aren’t cheap.

If you choose to go this route, I recommend getting recommendations from authors you respect for designers they’ve had a good experience working with.

Option 2: Work with an agency.

There is something to be said for having the full catered experience of an agency. If you go this route, you’ll probably be assigned an account rep who will be your point person who will work with the designers crafting your cover and interior designs. This can reduce your stress, but it does come at a price. Working with an agency will be more expensive than working with freelancers.

Option 3: 99 Designs.

This is the option I’ve gone with for my most recent book and have been incredibly happy with the results. For one flat price, several designers compete to do my cover or interior design. There are some parameters you must work within – you must keep within a timeline and are limited in what you can request for that flat fee, but it is reasonable. If you’re on a budget but want good quality work, this really is the way to go.

In a moment, I’ll talk about some specifics you’ll need for these two parts of your book layout and design. But first, here’s a short commercial break.

Hello! And welcome back to The Author’s Switch, the podcast dedicated to helping aspiring and new authors turn on The Author’s Switch to success in their mind. I’m your host, Carma Spence, author of the bestselling and award-winning book Public Speaking Super Powers.

Before the break, I talked about the three decisions you need to make about your book before you begin layout and design. And then I gave an overview of three options for getting your cover designed and your book interior laid out.

Now let’s talk about some specifics you’ll need for these two parts of your book design.

First, the cover: In addition to the title, there are a few other elements you may want to consider including and therefore providing your cover designer:

  • Any special call outs for the front cover. For example, on the cover of Public Speaking Super Powers, I mention the Foreword is by Cindy Ashton. And in my forthcoming book, I’m mentioning that I’m an Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author and that the book is a second edition.
  • For the back cover, you’ll want a good head shot, a short bio, a short and compelling description of the book, perhaps some strong one- to two-line reviews and, of course your ISBN number and Bar Code. You may want to include BISAC or category codes and retail price, as well.

Your cover designer will also need to know the book’s cut size (will it be a 6 x9, for example). And, if you plan to have paperback, hardcover, and audiobook versions, make sure that your designer has the publishing specs for each one and creates a file specifically for each one.

The interior is a little more complicated. I recommend you find a book to model yours after and follow how it puts the various elements in place. But, to give you a head start, here’s what I’ve done:

The first page, when you open the book, that’s where you put any reviews you’ve been able to collect before publication. These come from your beta readers or other pre-publishing readers.

Following that, if you have previous book, you can have an “Also by” page.

Next up, on a facing or odd page, is a title page … with no subtitle on it.

After that, also on a facing page, is a full title page, with subtitle, author name, and publisher.

On the back of that page is the informational page. This is where you list the copyright notice, the publication information, the Library of Congress information, the ISBN numbers, and so forth. Again, find a book you choose to model for more exact language for this page.

Following this are a couple optional pages such as:

  • The Dedication – to whom do you dedicate this book?
  • Acknowledgements – who helped you create this book, and you want to give credit to?

This is followed by the Table of Contents and you pretty much know the rest.

Once you receive the first draft of your interior layout, this is what I recommend you do:

  1. Proof it yourself first. Work with the designer to get it as clean of errors as you can.
  2. Then get a professional proofreader to go over it, as well.

Do not skip the professional edit. Something ALWAYS slips by and it is a good idea to have a second pair of eyes look at it. And, because you’ve spent some time cleaning it up before and after it when through the design process, this final proofreading step should be inexpensive and painless.

While all this is going on, you might consider how you want to release your different book versions. Some authors like to release all versions at once. Other like to release different versions one at a time. During this COVID crisis, the consensus is to release the eBook version first, then release the physical books. If you are releasing an audiobook version, releasing it either in conjunction with the eBook or shortly thereafter works well, too.

Of course, this all depends on the type of book you are publishing. Some books sell better as physical books. Do some research before you firm up your marketing plan.

The step in the Authorneer’s Journey is Business Planning. Well pause a moment in the publishing cycle to think about what you might want to do with your book once it is out. I’ll talk about that in episode 11 of The Author’s Switch in the second half of March. Between now and then, in episode 10, I’ll be chatting with Case Lane about self-publishing and book promoting. I hope you’ll tune in!

Until then, this is your host, Carma Spence, signing off. Ciao!

About The Author Switch

The Author Switch is a podcast dedicated to helping experts, entrepreneurs, and small business owners turn on The Author Switch — and keep it on — so that they can leverage the power of books to take their businesses to a whole new dimension. You learn more about the show on its page.