Between numerous drafts, editing, proofreading, setting up your website, developing marketing strategies, etc., it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A common mistake is overlooking the work put into book design or, worse yet, not thinking it’s important in the first place. A professional book cover and layout shows the care taken in producing your book. Your potential reader takes about two seconds to choose whether or not to click on your book when presented with a grid or list. You want your cover design to have them salivating for more.
Side note: Don’t forget to check out my post 9 Must-Have Books on Writing & Editing!
Books on Typography
Typography is “the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible.” In this regard, what matters most about your book is people read the content you spent such a long time perfecting—not be distracted by shoddy typography. Good typography in a book is invisible, as that is its purpose in a book. It takes years to master the art, but by utilizing the concepts the following books provide, you can create a professional book cover and layout your potential readers will love.
The Elements of Typographic Style
This is easily the essential book on typography, and if you only buy one book on the subject, make it this one. While some sections may prove difficult to read for beginners, it offers even the smallest tidbits of information to make your book look its best. In addition to covering typography, Bringhurst also devotes a large section of the book to the layout of book interiors.
Thinking With Type
A beginner’s guide to typography, Lupton’s writing provides even a complete newbie to the world of design an entertaining walkthrough on how to pick the correct typefaces, pairing type, and all the foundation for understanding what makes typography work.
Designing With Type, Fifth Edition
For an intermediate read packed full of information on typography, Craig and Bevington’s book provides a nice segue from thinking solely on the use of type into combining type with design as a whole. Highly recommended.
Rounding out the first half of the list is a key reference for self-publishers who have little experience with Adobe InDesign. Easy to learn, but difficult to master, this book provides all the tips and tricks of the trade.
Books on Layout
Interior formatting in books is not something easy to get right—especially not on your first try. While it does not require a professional layout program like Adobe InDesign, it is extremely difficult to craft a book layout in MS Word and have it look like a book published by larger publishing houses.
Designing Books: Practice and Theory
One of the more in-depth books on the subject, this intermediate read offers clear direction for the layout of many types of books. In addition, it also provides the why instead of merely a how, for those wanting to understand the reasoning behind formatting.
On Book Design
A very thorough read. Paired with the previous book, you will have a near-complete understanding of everything you could want to know about the history and practice of designing books.
This is a more technical read, but if you already have an understanding of the basics of designing a book, this would be a better choice for you.
Bookmaking: Editing, Design, Production (Third Edition)
This is the be-all-end-all of books on books. Covering every possible aspect of book editing, design, formatting, printing, marketing, and more, if you only have one book on your shelf featuring the subject matter, make it this hefty tome.