I'll admit right here at the front I have a 20-year background as a publications designer, mainly newspapers with some work in magazines and other print periodicals. I loved it. Design was always one of my favorite aspects of the print world. I adored using graphic arts tools to design special covers, making them into a piece of art that still worked for readers without becoming so fancy and artsy as to be unreadable. Mixing type and art is a talent, and I like to think I was at least decent at it.
So a few years ago when I became a full-time fiction author, I was thinking I would never again utilize my publications design skills. How wrong I was.
For my self-published projects, I have to design the covers for my e-books and books. I also have to format the inside pages of my e-books and books. Sometimes I have to design a back cover. Then, for my fantasy works, I have to come up with maps.
To some that might sound like a lot of work. To me, that sounds like fun!
Don't get me wrong, because I love writing fiction, traveling to faraway lands and worlds where I get to work with some of the oddest characters imaginable this side of the Mos Eisley cantina. But I also love to sit down at a computer and start from scratch on a design project.
Not everyone loves design work, of course, and even those who do love it, or at least tolerate it, can find themselves without ideas from time to time. That's where a website like The Book Designer can come in handy.
The site is chock full of helpful articles about book and e-book design, such as "5 Great Fonts for Book Covers" and "How to Check Your Book Proof in 3 Simple Steps." There are sections on the site about Planning Your Book, Making Print Choices, Marketing Your Book and so much more than I can't list it all here.
If you have the funds and are the type of writer who wants to hire out your design work, you can even Hire Joel Friedlander, the man in charge of the site and the top dog at Marin Bookworks. For more, check out his Services. You might even want to consider purchasing Joel's book, A Self-Publisher's Companion.
Now you writers out there, don't you dare balk at design, because design is very important. Quite often it is quality design that catches a potential reader's eye, or good design that keeps a reader reading. Yes, loads of people say book covers have little to nothing to do with their reading choices, but they're fooling themselves. Think about all the times you did not pick up a book at a store or did not check into an e-book because the cover image was ugly or boring. Think about the times you wanted to set aside reading material because it was difficult to read because of the format or layout. Then realize that good design could have helped.
Design alone might not sell your books or e-books, but bad design surely will not help sales. Remember that.