L is for Layout

Few things please me more than an elegantly-rendered book interior. A feast for the eyes, with fonts that add their own leaning to the mood on the page, the interior of a book (printed or digital) is actually one of things that can sway my final purchase decision.

I’ve been so interested by interiors that I casually started learning how to create them back in college, for creative writing assignments, like the one below. The essay could have been about anything more tangible, but my professor at the time allowed me to be creative, so I wrote a pretend “missing chapter” from The Tale of Genji. I had a lot of fun with the project, even though I’m usually against appropriating another author’s universe for fan-fiction personally (though I did, in my teens, read quite a bit of it for TV shows).

I enjoyed creating that layout so much that I ended up creating another layout for my Japanese notes. Yeah, I am seriously that OCD. This project wasn’t for anyone else… I just wanted to play around in Adobe InDesign.

I also had the opportunity to help N J’s kyudΓ΅ club with one of their newsletters. This layout was really different for me, but I enjoyed how it turned out.

Recently, I’ve gotten really interested in book interiors, so I’ve been playing around in InDesign and Word again. There are a couple of projects I volunteer my time for, and I’ve been given the task of formatting the interiors for the print and ebook editions. I’m stoked! Here are some samples of what I came up with for both (coincidentally, I also designed covers for both, but I can’t share them as they aren’t in their final form yet).

If you like my style (I tend to lean more towards classic/elegant styles) and would like to commission me, I have my own design website now, at countrymousedesign.com. There aren’t any samples up on the website yet, because nothing I’ve formatted professionally has been published yet.

What do you like about book layouts? What things don’t you like?

Tomorrow: M is for Magic Systems!

26 thoughts on “L is for Layout

    1. I have my moments of pulling out my hair, for sure…. but I sort of realized I was learning all of these different software techniques anyway, and I might as well let others know I can help them, haha.

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  1. Being someone who finds it difficult to get any kind of layout stuff to work (and being unwilling to invest the time in trying to figure it out (because I would have to take that time from writing time)) — I can’t even get my blog layout to work as anything other than one of the templates and can’t get all of those options to work, either — I think it’s cool that you can do all of that. However, if you charge anything, I can’t afford it at the moment 😦
    Off to check out your site.

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    1. Andrew, if you’re having trouble with your blog, I hope you know I’d help you for free. πŸ™‚ I’m quite familiar with that platform too, so if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask me!

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    1. Thank you so much! I want to take on more projects, so I can really challenge myself in a whole bunch of new styles. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much Sam! I’m glad you like the styles. The “Lady Koi” one was done right in Word, nothing special, though Heroes & Villains (Alpha) was done in InDesign. πŸ™‚

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  2. Your layouts are gorgeous! I like it when publishers do little flourishes in the layout. To me, it really adds to the appearance, of course, but also to the overall appeal of the book. I worked for a while with Month9Books as production manager, and I liked that they added flourishes to their layouts. I wish more publishers would to this. I think it adds VERY little to the cost.

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    1. I totally agree! I love a good layout. I recently opened up “Range of Ghosts” by Elizabeth Bear… oh, the interior was gorgeous… and the cover. If I never read the book (though I will), it still would have been worth the purchase price! πŸ˜›

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  3. Very interesting. I’ve never paid much attention to book interiors other than the size of the font and the line-spacing — which in most brick-sized science-fiction books I read is really hard on the eye. I’m sure getting a book to be both harmonious and enticing requires talent and an artistically schooled eye.
    Good luck with your designs!

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  4. Commenting from writeonmamas.com. Fascinating post. I think the interior design is crucial to enjoyment of a book. In fact I sometimes do not buy a book if the text and layout are distracting. Good luck.

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  5. I haven’t (yet) ever designed the interior of a book, but I wanted to mention that I too was very OCD about my notes as a student. I was known to completely rewrite my notes half a dozen times because indents didn’t line up or the color scheme of the pens wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. lol On the upside, it turned out that rewriting something over and over makes it much easier to remember, so in a sense I was actually studying. πŸ˜›

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  6. I’m also a fan of well done interiors, and those are really lovely. I particularly like little drawings/icons as scene break markers and fancy font first letters in chapters. A feast for the eyes!

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  7. Formatting seemed challenging at first, but once I learnt the basics, it became really easy. I suppose it helps that I’ve been with the Mac for all 30 years of its existence and grew up with computers. It’s like second nature now, and if I made a mistake, I know how to correct it.

    Good margins are a must for me, as is the correct spacing. It’s hard to read the small mass-market-sized paperbacks, because they have such small margins and not much room between the lines. A proper typeface is also a must.

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  8. These are fantastic, Alex! You know that if I ever need someone to help me with the layout and design for a project, you’d be the first person I’d turn to. πŸ™‚

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    1. It’d be so fun to design a poetry book for you, Miranda! Your words are so full of character it would be easy!

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      1. Aw, thanks, Alex! Maybe one day… I’ve written a novella that is near and dear to my heart, but I don’t see it being traditionally published. It still needs some work, but down the line, I’d definitely consider self-publishing it.

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