Outside In

Designing a book cover was never on the cards (see Mrs Armitage and the Big Book Cover), but I didn’t think the interior design would be beyond my capabilities.

I still don’t.

And yet I enlisted a graphic designer to typeset and produce a print-ready PDF. Why? Well, in part because those ‘two-little-words-and-one-acronym’ filled me with dread: print-ready PDF … hmm … print-ready PDF, as opposed to cobbled-together PDF? Or, print-ready Word doc pretending to be a PDF? … Is there a difference? What’s the difference?!

Many kids’ books were examined, typesets and layouts scrutinized. Often, publishers state which font has been used on the back of the title page … I narrowed my favourite down to Minion 12pt. As usual, I wanted a really professional finish. The idea of a simple line drawing and dropped caps at the beginning of chapters made my heart race (I really don’t get out much).

Many people laud createspace for providing an excellent tool for interior book design. And apparently it’s possible to use a createspace interior PDF file on other platforms. More research later, I figured that my favoured way to get a professional-looking interior would be to download a free 30-day trial of InDesign. It’s the software used by many interior designers and would definitely give a professional finish.

And at that point I decided to look into graphic designers because with everything else, it became a question of Choose Your Learning Curve. I had a reccie on Elance and found myself honing in on the profile of Amanda MacCabe, a graphic designer in Manchester. When I got in touch, she quoted me 4 hours work at $20/hour. I made some last-minute proof edits, which added another 2 hours to the final job.

Amanda has worked for newspapers and – most importantly – as a book designer for small publishers. Scrap that, most importantly, Amanda turned out to be a total professional, super easy to work with, helpful … can’t praise her enough.

If you still aren’t sold on the idea of getting the book interior professionally typeset, here is a list I came across. Some useful things to watch out for when going DIY:

– First and foremost: print margins, bleed margins and crop marks. But you probably knew that …

– Orphans and widows in the text (i.e. words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph that are left ‘hanging’ separate from the rest of the para.).

– Ladders (i.e. too many hyphenated words at the end of lines on a page).

– Rivers of white that crop up through the text being centre justified.

If you are thinking of getting someone to take the job off your hands, you can’t go wrong with Amanda Ashton, ashtondesigns@icloud.com, www.AshtonDesigns.co.uk. She provided a full set of files, prepared epub files, made changes when we hit file-upload glitches, and bailed me out on the book cover too (as a separate job, of course). But never mind all that, just check out the fab title page she’s done for me, using Mimi Alves’ cover illustration (see Mrs Armitage and the Big Book Cover) …

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 20.06.06

Nuff said!

Thanks for reading,



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