Books, Indie Author, Non Fiction, Self Publishing, Writing

Book Design for Self-Published Authors: Guest Post by Toni Serofin @Sanserofin #BookDesign #SelfPublishing

I met today’s guest over on LinkedIn last year and love her content and comments. As I got to know Toni more I asked her if she’d like to write a guest post about how she helps self-published authors – I’m delighted she agreed!

Meet Toni Serofin

Since 2009, I’ve helped self-publishing authors by providing book cover and interior design, formatting and project management services. At project end, your final files are ready for a book printer and print-on-demand (ePub services available upon request).

Prior to becoming a book designer, I worked as a production designer in the commercial printing industry for 27 years.

My mission as a book designer is to use my expertise to help non-fiction authors so they can impact the lives of readers with their words. My work is done with care and integrity because every author deserves a professionally designed book.

Software: InDesign (Illustrator, Photoshop), Vellum (simple layouts with max. 10 images)

Book Design

I don’t need to tell you that writing a book is a serious commitment of time and energy.

Once your manuscript is done, you still have several steps to go before your book is a reality. Viewing your book as a product (otherwise why bother publishing?) is useful in this process and the hiring of professionals to help you is crucial. Professional help doesn’t come cheaply and to produce a great product, you need a realistic budget.

If you are very intent on saving money, there are some things that you might be able to safely DIY — if you have the time and patience.

But hear me loud and clear: Proofreading and copy editing should not be on your DIY list.

Professional proofreading and copy-editing are essential to ensure your manuscript is correct, accurate and consistent. Readers can easily spot unedited content which comes across as unpolished. You will pay for ignoring proofreading and copy-editing with poor sales or damage to your reputation when readers spot the errors in your printed book.

I advise my clients to work with a proofreader and copy editor before they send me a final manuscript. It’s a requirement or I won’t accept the project. My design and formatting estimates are based on an edited manuscript. I try to keep my prices competitive so there is no room in the budget for endless proofing rounds.

Once upon a time, I was hired to design and format a workbook. Workbooks are not your average non-fiction publication. They tend to be a larger format (8 x 10” or 8.5 x 11”), contain diagrams, graphic elements, Q&A sections and lined pages to write on. It’s challenging to design and format a workbook that flows well because there are many elements to consider.

This particular project started in August 2020. By September 2021, we were in proofing round number ELEVEN (and still counting in 2022). One year ago, the project should have been a happy distant memory. Unfortunately, the client’s inexperience led to the issues we are still working to address today.

Despite assurances they had worked with a copy editor at the manuscript stage, my client found major content issues during our early proofing rounds.

Rather than hiring another proofreader and copy editor to help get them back on track, the client chose to review each proof unassisted. And with each proof, more changes were found.

As mentioned, workbooks are different from other non-fiction books. It’s not always possible to anchor the graphic elements within the body text frames. When content changes are made at the proofing stage, bad things can happen with the layout. The text reflows and unanchored graphics must be repositioned. The careful work of creating pleasing line breaks is undone, new widow and orphan text appears and must be manually adjusted page by page.

If you think that sounds like a bit of a nightmare, you are correct. For the book designer, it can mean formatting the book all over again each time changes are required. For the client, it means a higher final invoice for going “outside the scope of the estimate”.

Projects rarely go this far off the rails. I’ve used this “worst case” scenario to illustrate a point.

When a client has their manuscript proofread and copy edited prior to design and formatting, the average 200-page non-fiction book interior takes 3-6 weeks from concept to final files. The cover design can take another two weeks.

Plan well, have a budget and hire professionals for a lower stress and more cost effective self-publishing journey.

For more information, please connect with Toni:



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