I made a presentation about book design to the Federation of BC Writers on January 24 and everyone wanted a copy of my material. I give my presentations from an outline, so I couldn’t just photocopy it. But I did promise to post it here on my website.

In order to make it more manageable both for me to write and for you to absorb, I plan to put the information up in three different posts – Interiors – Ebook Formatting – Covers.

First, here is a list of the Design Features of a Book. It’s pretty comprehensive and you probably won’t use all the features. But if you are going to publish your own work, you should understand what goes into the interior of a book. I will explain some of the important features in my upcoming posts. My preferred style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style.



Half title page


Title page

Legal page (copyright notice, CIP, publisher’s address, etc)



Table of contents

List of illustrations

List of tables



Acknowledgments (if not part of Preface)

Introduction (if not part of text)

List of abbreviations or chronology


Running heads


Headings and sub-headings






2 Responses to “Book Design Inside and Out”

  1. Hi, is it practical to self-publish a graphic tween novel (ala James Patterson’s middle school or wimpy kid)? How can I find an affordable illustrator & collaborate? I’ve looked at fiverr for comic-illustrators – can I use one who waives copyright rights? what format should I have the illustrations on? thx very much. will self-publishing and e-book hurt my chances of getting picked up by traditional one by 8 on scale of 1-10 or not? I just want more control & speed in coming out.

  2. Hi Donna. There are authors out there who are self-publishing graphic novels but most of them tend to be illustrators. As for an illustrator waiving copyright, you would have to have a contract for that and it would need to be drawn up by a lawyer. For self-publishing a print book ask the printer what format they want the illustrations in. For an ebook, read the format instructions on the company’s site. Often they want illustrations in JPG format.

    I can’t say if being self-published will harm or enhance your reputation as an author. Dust and Shades of Gray started as self-published ebooks and were picked up by a trade publisher. Read Amanda Hocking’s success story. She started with self-published ebooks and now has a publisher.


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