Friday, September 7, 2012

Notes on Interior Book Design

Since I've started buying more indie books, I'm noticing a scary trend: incorrect interior formatting.

Now, you might wonder why this is a problem, right? Because, while we are indie, we don't want to look indie. We are competing with publishing houses with big-name designers on their side. We need to look just as good as the competition.

Go grab a copy of a book you've bought at a brick and mortar. I'll wait...

You back already? Cool, let's move on.

OPEN the book to the end paper. Oooooh pretty!! We don't have those as indies, but notice how pretty they are? Usually only on the hardback versions!! Drat.

Now turn the page. Note what's there. A title, right? Sometimes the author's name as well (but not always).

Note what's NOT there: running header or page number.

Flip through the rest of the front matter. Note what's missing: running headers and page numbers (sometimes, these pages ARE numbered but always with roman numerals and not PAGE 1, 2, 3, etc...).

Stop on the contents page. Note there is a list of the chapter titles with page numbers. Note what's missing.

Now, I've found that, with CreateSpace, putting in page numbers is NOT a good idea until you upload the manuscript and assure the page numbers match what you have. This must sometimes be tweaked and tested again.

Let me be very VERY forward here: PAGE ONE IS ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE AND STARTS ON THE FIRST PAGE OF YOUR STORY. If you have to leave a blank page, DO IT. Please.

You need running headers and page numbers. They are part of what makes your book a book and not a glued-together mess of pages. Your interior file should be a whole separate beast from your ebook file!

You can find all of this advice and more in my book, The Indie Author's Guide to: Building a Great Book. It's just $2.99 on Amazon for Kindle. That's pocket change. I could have priced it higher, but I'm trying to help, not rob. If you want to look as professional as possible, click the title and go get a copy. You won't be disappointed. You need that book to prevent mistakes like the ones listed above.

If you don't want to do it, contact me. I'll do it for a fee.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. When I was formatting Depression Cookies, I took out some of my favorite "traditional" books to figure out what formatting I wanted. It helped so much.

    I don't have DC on Smashwords yet (long story), but I've seen some crazy formatting on books I've read there.

    Great post!!

    1. Looking at the industry standard gives a lot of clues, it's true. Smashwords' meatgrinder can do a number on books if they don't adhere to the Smashwords Style Guide by Marc Coker. Ewwwwwwww. :) Thanks for stopping by, Tia! Good to see you!

  2. I think it's very important for Indie published books to look as professional as their publishing house counterparts.

    1. I think it determines many many sales. And, as indies, we cannot afford to lose those. Thanks for the comment, Becky! Good to see you!!


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