Portfolios and You

If you’re not at all acquainted with book design, here’s some information you might find helpful before you take a look at my portfolio, or view anyone else’s.

Covers fall into two basic categories: ebook and print covers. Print books require a back cover and spine in addition to the front.

Unless you’re used to looking at print covers, they may seem weird at first. The front, which most people are used to seeing first, appears ‘last’ to people accustomed to reading left to right. But if you were to fold it over the spine of a stack of papers that are glued on the left, the right side would end up on the front of the book.

Ebooks are usually rendered in RGB color code, while print books are CMYK. CMYK are the inks (Cyan=blue, Magenta=pinkish red, Y=yellow and K=black) that printers use. The CMYK code tells them how much of each ink to mix into an area to make a given color. CMYK may look washed-out on a computer screen. It’s best to have images intended for online viewing in RGB. However, if you were to send an RGB coded image to the printer, unless the printer is accustomed to modifying the image first the print machine will probably lay down too much color. That makes the ink run, which sometimes makes the cover blurry, and the colors will all be darker too. If you see blurry book covers, that’s usually why.

Interiors are the designs that happen inside a book. Most people don’t pay much attention to the interiors of books, but they’re extremely important. They can create a mood, provide a sense of authority, or make a book feel friendly or creative. This is accomplished through correct margins, font choices, the amount of white space, the presentation of illustrations, and other considerations including the running header, page numbering systems, and chapter headings.

Every book designer has their favorite fonts. Mine are Desire, Myriad Pro and Minion Pro. What a lot of people don’t know is that fonts are copyrighted, just like books, music, art and photography. You can’t use just any font in your book design. You need a commercial license. Before you put together a book by yourself, be sure to read up on copyrights so that you don’t get sued for using someone else’s font, image, art or other work in your book. The fonts I use are all properly licensed.

Speaking of fonts, some are designed better than others. Unless you have at least some training in typography, it’s easy to overlook serious flaws inherent in some fonts. These flaws are especially noticeable when they’re on display at a large size, like on a book cover for example, but they can also create issues in body text. A competent book designer will help you make wise font choices.

I hope this information will help you understand more of what you’re seeing as you shop around for the right book designer for you!