Design your own book

Designing a book yourself and delighting readers at first sight

Consumers make over 90 percent of purchasing decisions unconsciously based on emotions. Marketing experts have found this to be the case. And emotions are strongly aroused via visual stimuli. While the key selling point of your book remains a great story, how the book and its cover are designed creates an initial incentive for your reader to pick it up in the first place.

Why is the design of the book so important?

Imagine you're strolling through a bookstore, browsing through the latest new releases. What catches your eye and why? Maybe it's the book title in combination with the motif on the cover, or the eye-catching font and harmonious colour scheme? From the outside, the book is convincing, so you open it. With a non-fiction book we expect a table of contents, with a novel a continuous text in justified type. But what if instead you find illegible lines in justified type? The reading pleasure would be limited - and therefore also the incentive to buy the book.

Book publishers pay attention to an appealing design and professional book typesetting. They are as much a part of a good book as the story itself. That's why it's also important for self-publishing authors to familiarize themselves with them so that they can match the quality of published books. There are more and more book titles while book purchases remain the same. In order to stand out from the multitude of publications, professional content and an appealing design are basic requirements.

What distinguishes a well-designed book?

An coverthat catches the reader's attention and fits the theme, and a book's typesettingThe cover and the inside can determine whether a reader will take your work in hand and maybe even take it home. The cover and the interior can be decisive for whether a reader will take your work in hand and maybe even take it home. If you want a Publish e-book you should specifically inform yourself about what you have to pay attention to when formatting.

How to design the book cover?

The book cover should catch the reader's attention and present the book theme in an appropriate and unusual visual. The color scheme and cover image should match and harmonize with the book title and font. Author name (or Pseudonym) and book title belong not only on the front of the book, but also on the spine, that is, the part of the book that you see when it is on the shelf. On the back cover, the summary of the book's contents, i.e. the Blurb, is not lacking. Many self-publishing service providers offer design aids such as a Cover Designer. Such tools can help you if you want to design your book yourself.

How do you design the inside of the book?

In the interior of the book, a pleasant reading flow is crucial. To immerse the reader in the story, avoid cluttered typography or typesetting errors. Therefore, you should choose a font that is easy to read, such as Times New Roman or Arial, and set a pleasant font size of, for example, 12 pt. For body text, justification with hyphenation is common. Make sure that the font types and sizes are consistent and avoid typical typesetting errors such as "Cobbler's Boys" and "Whore's Children". Paragraphs facilitate the flow of reading and the text should start and end at the same height on a double page. Here, too, self-publishing service providers offer for example Word templates or you try the fully automated typesetting?

Designing a book yourself: The first impression through book cover and jacket

Just a few seconds will determine whether or not your cover will appeal to a potential buyer. You've spent months or years working on your book, polishing the story, and you've got your book idea into a novel - great. Then take enough time for the cover and jacket design. A professional cover can be the deciding factor in whether readers even pick up your book. If you want to design your book yourself, go for professionalism and quality so that it doesn't get lost in the multitude of titles.

Even at first glance, readers should be able to tell what genre or topic your book is about. Nevertheless, it should stand out from other works in terms of design, have a unique selling point. Surprise, provoke, make people think, make them laugh - you can achieve all this with the cover. Look to other authors in your genre for inspiration. Browse through the bookstore or click through the websites of major trade publishers like Random House, S. Fischer, Dumont or Piper.

Depending on the format and number of pages, you can calculate the dimensions for your book cover. With the Cover Designer you can choose from different templates and customize the design. You don't need any previous knowledge of graphics, the dimensions of the cover are automatically adjusted. For illustration there is a Tutorial.

Designing a book yourself: Getting the text into shape with book typesetting

The inside of novels is usually designed in a similar way. Take two books from the shelf and flip through the first pages. Except for minor differences, you will find many similarities. Starting with the title and ending with the type area. If you want to design your book yourself, you should know how the interior of the book is structured.

What's the title?

The first (right) inside page of the book contains the dirty title, i.e. book title and author name. On the second, i.e. left-hand page, there is either nothing or, for example, an author biography. The third page contains the so-called main title with title, subtitle, author's name, publisher and genre. imprint. The imprint is mandatory for printed books and for e-books. After the fourth page, a dedication, a citation or a table of contents can be inserted on the next right-hand page. Finally, the actual body text begins on the following right-hand page.

What is the type area?

The type area is the area in the book intended for the text or illustrations, i.e. the usable area on each page. It is limited by non-printed areas between the page margins. A harmonious type area is created when the book pages and the type area have the same proportions. In corresponding Word templates or with the fully automatic book typesetting, this is automatically taken care of. Without these aids, you should have your book typeset by a professional service provider.

Designing a book yourself: What should you look for in fonts?

A legible and pleasant font without unnecessary flourishes or gimmicks - that's what you should look for in your body text. Your readers want to be able to immerse themselves in the story. Fonts that are legible and suitable for print include Times New Roman, Book Antiqua, Palatino, Tahoma, Calibri, Arial, and Verdana. Novelists often prefer serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Garamond. Unlike sans serif fonts such as Calibri or Arial, these are characterized by fine strokes at the end of each letter across the base direction. A font size between 10 and 12 pt is suitable for body text.

You should use emphasis, so-called text markup, discreetly in novels. Use italics, if at all, when you want to emphasize something. In non-fiction and technical books, it makes sense to highlight important information not in the text, but with graphically or colorfully designed information boxes.

Designing a book yourself: What should you look for in colors in the book interior?

Colour pages are rarely found in novels, but they do occur in illustrated non-fiction and specialist books, children's books and travel books. Colours can be used to highlight information, for example as bars, info boxes or frames. But here, too, the rule is: use them with restraint and do not distract too much from the text. Colour elements can support the text and direct the reader's eye. In the case of a humorous guidebook or a children's book, more intense colours can also be appropriate.

If you plan to include color pages in your book, it's best to use the project calculator to find out what the costs will be. Color pages in digital printing are significantly more expensive than black and white pages, so the retail price of your book will be higher.

Photos and graphics

Photos, illustrations and graphics are also used in non-fiction and reference books, travel, children's or Cookbooks usual. The image quality has top priority here. A sufficient resolution of at least 300 dpi is a basic requirement for printing. It is best to save your photos in four-colour mode (CMYK). Files saved in three-color mode (RGB) can be edited with free image editing software such as GIMP convert.

Blurry or out-of-focus images look unprofessional. If you want to focus on writing, you can work with a photographer. Professional image editing should not be underestimated either. Especially with books that live from their illustrations and photos, you should not skimp here, but rely on quality.

Important: For all photos that you use, you must have the appropriate usage rights and use them correctly. Cite. Otherwise it can become expensive.

What are the usual book formats?

Whether it's a romance novel, a non-fiction book or a picture book - if you want to design your own book, you should consider which page format suits your text or genre. In other words, how tall and wide your book is when closed. This can also have an impact on sales potential.

Works of fiction such as Thrillers, fantasy novels or love stories are usually published in a classic, smaller page format such as 12 x 19 cm. Readers expect a handy book that is comfortable to hold. Due to the illustrations and graphics that need a certain page size, non-fiction and technical books tend to have a larger page format such as 17 x 22 cm. For factual and complex content, clarity and vividness is the top priority. In other genres, different page formats can be found, for example in gift books, picture books, travel books or children's books. Here it is mostly the impact of photos and illustrations that counts, so large page formats and also landscape formats are used instead of portrait formats.

What types of paper and binding are available?

Some novels are printed on creamy white, or buff, paper, others on pure white paper. In Books for children and young people or fancy creative books, there are often also full colour pages. Which paper you choose when you want to design your book yourself is a matter of taste. For a technical book with complex graphics, a pure white background makes sense. Novels and short stories also look classy on creamy white paper and are easy to read.

When it comes to binding types, a basic distinction is made between paperback, or pocket book, with a flexible cover and a hardcover with a hard book jacket. Depending on the publisher and the book, books today are bound with adhesive binding or thread stitching. Self-publishing usually uses perfect binding. Whether you choose paperback or hardcover is not just a question of appearance. Every reader has different preferences. Paperback, for example, is light, handy and cheaper, whereas hardcovers are of higher quality due to their hard cover. A paperback is ideal to take along on a trip, while a hardcover is often bought as a gift. E-books are also popular as the most flexible product form - but they only account for six percent of total sales in the German book market. According to industry studies, 20 percent of all readers even buy only hardcovers. That's why it's a good idea to publish your book in all three product forms - paperback, hardcover and e-book - and offer every reader their preferred format.


If you want to design your book yourself, you have to make numerous decisions, from the book cover to the fonts and colors of the interior to the paper and cover. In self-publishing, you have the freedom to customize your book according to your wishes. Nevertheless, you should focus on professionalism and quality. Don't skimp on the design, it is crucial for whether readers notice your book at all.


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