Books are one of my favorite things to design! I just love watching the complexities of each paragraph, character, and object style work effectively together in unison as I add each new page . . . each new chapter!
I recently put together an ebook called Launch Novice 101 for Reignite Group. Though I don’t have time to go into all the details about how the book was set up, I thought I would at least give the basic idea of how I put it together, from beginning to end.
1. Determine the Size
Before launching into the fun aspects of what the ebook would look like aesthetically, I made sure to determine what the book would look like dimensionally. I’ve had to re-structure way too many things to want to do it again. Though I took into account the sizes of other ebooks and contemplated what would be the best best size on both desktop and mobile devises, my client concluded that 8.5×11” would be the final size because he wanted folks to easily print out any page they wanted.
2. Design a Cover
I usually start with the cover when it comes to design. The rest of the ebook design will follow it. Textures, graphics, shapes, and fonts are all considered over and over again as I go through comp after comp, narrowing it down to the one that looks best. Once a cover is decided upon, the elements used there will be used in the rest of the ebook.
These are comps from the design process.
While the body of an ebook will complement the cover design, each type of page will have it’s own look and structure. The Chapter Title page at the beginning of a chapter will have a different structure than the FAQ page at the end of the chapter. The Index pages are going to look a lot different than Table of Contents pages. Using InDesign’s nifty Master Pages pallet, I can keep the page structure consistent throughout the entire book.
4. Layout the Paragraph Structure
Once the pages are designed, it’s time to add text! Text can be divided up into levels according to size. Level 1 is the chapter titles; they will have a larger point size than all the rest of the text in the ebook. Chapter subtitles would come in at a Level 2 leaving paragraph text at a Level 3, footnotes at Level 4, and so on getting smaller and smaller. Having a basic structure like this helps when a random text element is introduced, say, an image caption. In terms of prominence, do I want it to be equal with a chapter subtitle, or a footnote? The answer to this question gives me a calculated estimate for determining an accurate point size. You could say that Paragraph Levels help keep text in it’s place. This concept, coupled with the Paragraph and Character style functions in InDesign, equates to a level of uniformity and consistency that is paramount to a simple, easy-to-read publication.
5. Export the Awesomeness!
It takes a long time to put together a complete ebook, but if you set it up right, it can be done surprisingly fast. Depending on the number of pages, entering and typefitting the text could take less time than the design of the cover. However, no amount of design is appreciated if it’s not presented properly. Ebooks are easy when it comes to presentation because they are only viewed on screen, but it’s critical to make sure every image in the document is set to 72ppi, never scaled beyond 100%, and exported at a High JPEG Quality setting.
Like I said, there’s a lot more that can be said about creating an ebook, but I hope these broad steps are a start for helping novices take the next step to publishing a better product. And for those who don’t want to do it themselves, well, I’m always available for projects like these!