One of the many benefits of being an indie author is having full control of the way your books look inside. This means choosing the elements that you want (or don’t want!) that complement the style/genre of your book. This is done at the formatting stage, which comes after the writing, editing and proofreading stages of the process. As a professional formatter, I use Vellum formatting software to help indie authors create beautiful book interiors based on their preferences. To help you decide what you might want your first or next book to look like, here are 5 ways to customise your book’s interior.
1) Book Style
The book style is exactly what it says – the style of the inside of the whole book. Vellum has 24 different book styles to choose from, ranging from the more traditional style of interior (clean, classic, non-intrusive) to styles that contain quirkier, less traditional options.
However, although you may love one of the quirkier options, it’s important that the book style is suitable for the style/genre of your book. And by suitable, I mean that it won’t be jarring or confusing for readers. Choosing a modern looking book style with a cartoon-ish chapter heading font would not complement a historical novel with sombre themes, for example.
2) Book Size
The most popular book sizes are 5″ x 8″ (more common for fiction) and 6″ x 9″ (more common for nonfiction). And it may sound obvious but the book size you choose dictates the size of your interior pages too. This then has a knock-on effect for font size. Have you ever read a 5″ x 8″ paperback with a font so small and margins so narrow it gave you a headache just looking at it? It’s off-putting for readers. Whereas a 6″ x 9″ nonfiction book with spaced paragraphs and clearly defined sections would be a pleasure to read!
Vellum software offers 6 book sizes: 5″ x 8″ / 5.06″ x 7.81″ / 5.25″ x 8″ / 5.5″ x 8.25″ / 5.5″ x 8.5″ and 6″ x 9″ and automatically sets the font size and margins for whatever book size you choose. Although they can be adjusted slightly, I always advise caution. Yes, a smaller book size with smaller font and narrower margins = less pages = lower printing costs, but always consider reader comfort first and foremost.
As with book style, your interior body font is also an important consideration. The font you choose throughout your book must be appropriate for your style/genre of book. It matters because font conveys more than you might think as it carries connotations about your content and your wider author brand.
Vellum offers a selection of 12 serif and sans serif* fonts to choose from:
- Crimson Pro
- Crimson Text
- EB Garamond
- Hoefler Text
- Iowan Old Style
- STIX Two Text
- Times New Roman
*Sans serif fonts are more accessible for some readers (such as those with dyslexia) than serif fonts due to being simpler typefaces without the ‘flourishes’ of more traditional fonts. An example of a sans serif font would be Arial, whereas a common serif font would be Times New Roman. Canva clearly shows the differences between serif and sans serif fonts here.
4) Text Layout
Another way to customise your book’s interior is to decide how the body text is laid out. This is one of the most important choices you can make because an expected, streamlined, conventional layout aids the reader whereas an unexpected, cramped, non-conventional layout risks confusing or annoying the reader, which you definitely don’t want to happen. (Of course, there are examples of successful, non-conventional book layouts out there, but these are usually the exception not the rule and still divide opinion!)
The two main options are either indented or spaced paragraphs. Indented paragraphs (without a line between each) are more common in fiction and showcase dialogue particularly well. Spaced paragraphs (with a clear line between each) work well in nonfiction, creating more white space on the page between easily digestible parts/sections/bullet-pointed information, for example.
Alongside this, you also need to consider whether you want your text justified or ragged. Justified means that the text is ‘squared off’ and against the margins on both sides of the page. This creates an extremely neat look overall but can extend the space between words slightly, which may be quite obvious to some authors. Alternatively, ragged text means the left hand side of the text is against the margin but the right hand side of the text is not, so each line is a different width depending on how many words fit onto each line. This creates more white space on the page, which can be easier on the eye, but some authors feel it can look a bit messy.
Again, the beauty of being an indie author is that you get to decide all this for yourself, but it’s important to make an informed choice!
5) Headers and Footers
Headers and footers may sound self explanatory, but Vellum offers a few different options for these. Including: page numbers at the bottom, either left aligned or centred, or at the top of the page, all left aligned, with headers that state your author name and either the book title or the chapter title.
However, despite having these choices, it’s important that the headers and footers don’t add unnecessary clutter to the page, or unbalance it. If your text layout is indented, with justified paragraphs, with a serif font, choosing to place your page numbers, author name and book title all in the headers may make the top of the page look over busy whereas the bottom of the page may look too sparse.
I am always happy to send screenshots of these options before I begin formatting so you can compare them all before choosing your preference for headers and footers. Alternatively, the default setting is simply centred page numbers at the bottom and no headers at the top.
And that’s 5 ways to customise your book’s interior! If you’re still feeling unsure about which options would be suitable for your book, have a look inside a few other books (ideally within the same style/genre as yours) to get an idea about what you would and wouldn’t like your interior to look like. Remember though, you can absolutely customise according to your preferences but you don’t want to detract readers from the content itself. If you’ve never actually noticed elements such as page number placement or margin width or font, that’s a good thing because it means they were non-intrusive!
If you’ve found ‘5 Ways to Customise Your Book’s Interior’ helpful and would like to find out more about book formatting, check out these related posts:
If you have any specific questions or would like to book a slot to have your book formatted, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form below.