HomeAuthor WritingMinistryChristian DesignWriters designing their own books in InDesign? Of course!

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Writers designing their own books in InDesign? Of course! — 6 Comments

  1. I’d agree. Designing type to look good isn’t quite the black art that complex color images are. I’ve been doing it for about 12 years and enjoy it. My suggestions include:

    1. Make the difference in font size etc between various levels of headings and body text just enough that readers subconsciously pick up on them. Don’t make them shout.

    2. Add lots of little tweaks to make what you do look different from something typewritten. Play around with the linespacing, and the spacing between paragraphs. Again, make the paragraph separation just a little more than that between lines but not so much that it is obvious.

    3. Do everything with paragraph styles. That lets you easily tweak the look and adjust a book’s length.

    4. Make lots of styles. I have several styles for inset quotes for instance. One adds a little extra space before for the first paragraph in an extended quote. One has the same space before and after for those in the middle. And the third has a little extra space afterward for the last paragraph in the quote.

    5. Watch for widows and orphans, meaning single lines of text at the bottom or top of a page.

    6. Consider rewriting to make chapters end near the bottom of a left-hand page rather than creating a few lines of text on a right-hand page, resulting in a blank left-hand page. That’s save you printing costs too.

    7. Find books you find attractive and copy what you like about them.

    One final note. If you absolutely can’t get up the confidence, hire someone to create a template you can use, reuse, and modify when you get more comfortable with doing your own designing.

    -Michael W. Perry, Untangling Tolkien

  2. As a graphic designer with lots of InDesign experience, I laud the idea of creative people trying on the publication design mantle. There [has always been and] will always be a spectrum of books being published so long as there are writers and a medium to put the story onto.

    Enterprising writers should take an InDesign trial for a test drive, get their hands on free or inexpensive tutorials (text and video) for a few busy weeks while communicating with and supporting each other. The worst case is that the writer doesn’t take to it, and ultimately hires a designer for all or part of their finished manuscript. But MOST IMPORTANTLY there’s a new or heightened appreciation of a) what goes into a successful InDesign project and b) what gets output from an InDesign project… and all the creative possibilities versus a simplistic or limited MS Word publication.

  3. Thanks Bruce,

    I enthusiastically agree. Plus, they’ll be able to communicate with their designer better. I think I had few paragraphs on one of my books that said this. I may have pulled for the new edition. If I did, I need to put it back in. Great comment.

  4. I love that you say is this your job or is this your PASSION – that is the difference. I am getting your book today:)

    I can’t tell you how excited I get about being able to take my baby from my brain all the way through publication!!

    My previous experiences were fine and I had a great book designer but he didn’t take to any of my suggestions – although in the end – when we republished – he then saw the merit of what I suggested 6 years ago.
    \
    So besides giving me relief from being dependent on another entity to understand “my baby” and what it would want to say through cover and formatting – it gives me freedom and responsibility at the same time.

    I going to go with the Adobe Pro – my question is this – my past publisher says I HAVE to have a MAC – but Lightning Source offers compatibility for InDesign from both Mac and PC.

    I don’t have a Mac and don’t know if I want the learning curve and expense of doing both a Mac and Adobe Pro

  5. Excellent! It’s a lot to learn, but it is really fun and the joy and power of creative control is wonderful. It takes book creation to a whole higher level. Book design becomes part of your message—or at the least, part of the way you tell your story.

    You do not need a Mac, BUT fast formatting requires setting up keyboard shortcuts for the styles you use. The Mac lets you use sixty shortcuts. The Windows only allows a little over 30. Maybe Windows 8 is better (but from hints I have heard Windows 8 may be as difficult (or even more difficult) to learn as a Mac. The good news is that if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud you can switch operating systems with no penalty.

    I’ve used both operating systems. My experience matches the studies which have been done showing that Macs out-produce PCs by somewhere from 3 to 7 times. In other words, you can work much faster on a Mac.

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