Designing a Book – It’s not that easy

Occasionally, I’m going to write about my adventure in Indie Publishing. It’s somehow related to my outdoor life, because my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields, is about the outdoors.

Why? Why am I writing this book?

I want to be part of the conversation about National Parks next year, 2016.

Shiloh Church
Shiloh Church

The 100th anniversary will have to compete with the presidential elections, and even the 100th anniversary of the North Carolina’s park system. Yes, it’s about the writing but for me, it’s always about the subject matter. In FAB, national parks are the main characters, though I appear as an occasional narrator.

So you completed your manuscript – you, mind you, not me yet.

You’ve gone over it until you can’t read it anymore. You’ve given it to your partner or friends and promised to do dishes or walk their dogs for days until they finish reading it. Then you’ve had it professionally edited, where you have to cough up real dough, not dishwashing. The manuscrip is perfect. Now what?

It helps a little that I read a lot of adventure nonfiction books. I like books such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer,and Blue Latitude by Tony Horwitz. But I love these authors so much that I actually buy their books in hardback. But my favorite right now is Bayou Farewell by Mike Tidwell and I’m using this softcover book as my example.

Ready to Design??

Diana Wade
Diana Wade

It’s time to bring in a book designer to help you in actually turning your Word document into a book, ebook, or physical book. I sat down with Diana Wade of Charlotte, who’s going to help me make lots of decisions on what my book is going to look like.



*  Page size. A trade nonfiction book can be 5.5X 8 or 8.5. Or it can be as big as 6 X 9.
*  Paper weight and color. Beige, definitely beige.
* Font. Who knows? So I showed her several books whose font I liked.
* Chapter titles. How should they be laid out? I also visualized a small black and white photograph at the start of each chapter.
* Headers. What do I want in the page header? Page number and book title on the left, Page number and chapter title on the right.
* Bar Code. I get the ISBN number, but what about the bar code itself?

These are only the most obvious decisions. I couldn’t think of more questions to ask Diana.

But wait. What about the index? I’m going to create an index in Word; that’s easy. But how was it going to be translated to the correct page numbers once the book size was set.?These are issues that keep me up at night.

And I haven’t even started on the book cover.

2 thoughts on “Designing a Book – It’s not that easy

  1. Great blog post Danny. It amazes me sometime how small the world can be. Diana is the mother of my friend Darcy who I went to college with and she now lives in Asheville.

  2. One of the most fun things about being a book designer is meeting the author of the book I am fortunate enough to help them publish. I really enjoy the opportunity to sit with the author over a cup of tea or a bagel and get to know them and what they want to say through their books. This gives me a chance to find out who they are and to learn a little about them. Each book is a new adventure. There are many twists and turns along that road, but we get through them together; sometimes seeming as though it may never happen, but before you know it, they have their long anticipated book in their hand and I love the joy that it instills in the author. I get a kick out of it too. Designing is my passion.

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