How to Format a Book with DIY Design Tools and Services

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Design 101 is a book in its own right, not a blog, but to encapsulate its importance in one paragraph...

Recognizing the reader is the primary art of design. Secondly, a book cover’s role is to let readers know what the book is about and whether they might be interested in a single one-second glance. Thirdly, always design a book by considering it in its subsequent larger context - a book created from your screen to: a book in your hand, a book in a bookstore, a book in an online store, a book amongst billions of internet books, a book amongst trillions of books worldwide. Design fails when you do not know the target audience in a cluttered environment. Without a smart, elegant, holistic design approach incorporating the end user it just is another mediocre book circulating the ether.

“Your cover matters. If it didn’t, you could just email people the text.” – Seth Godin

While hiring a cover or interior layout specialist from a professional service provider is always recommended, we understand that not every author has the funds to do so, so over several years my company and team members have purchased, assessed, reviewed and compiled the most useful resources at Authors Wish, a one-stop shop for DIY authors to locate affordable and practical tools for their DIY self-publishing journey. Although we do not own these tools or programs, we have certainly tried and tested them all.

The Publishing Process

There are five main aspects of the publishing process and many tools for each which are available on the Authors Wish website within these segments. 

  1. Writing
  2. Editing
  3. Designing
  4. Process
  5. Promotion

There are corresponding blog posts from me on each of these main aspects, but this post touches on the tools I find best for the book design step specifically. Your book design matters, and although we’re all cautioned not to determine a book’s worth based on its appearance, initially, we all do, so make sure yours helps your book make a positive first impression.

How to Format a Book Interior

If you’re wondering how to format a book, these unique tools make interior book formatting and interior book design achievable for the DIY author. With professional guidance built into these programs, your book will be as close as possible to an experienced designer.

  • The Reedsy Book Editor is a beautiful production tool that takes care of EPUB and print-ready PDF file formatting and conversion, before you’ve even finished writing.
  • Bookow not only formats, but it reduces those errors often found in Word docs. You can choose from various book templates for a professional look. We love the simplicity of this tool; very affordable and great customer service.
  • Pressbooks is a robust, fully featured publishing tool – if you can use WordPress websites and blogs, you can use this platform. It outputs your books to PDF and EPUB and lives in the cloud, so contributors or editors can also work on your book. This DIY option will give you a professional book if you follow all the instructions.

How to Format a Book Cover

Professional design takes years to master but these tools will at least give you a head start to create an effective design from professional platforms.

  • Canva is a free, online graphic design tool and is the simplest design program we’ve encountered that enables you to become a book designer. It contains templates and predesigned drag-and-drop elements in an easy-to-use interface for designers and non-designers alike.
  • DIY Book Covers saves you from having to learn graphic design from scratch. You are able to design the cover you have in mind, if you take the time to familiarise yourself with the actual set up. Making use of this resource is a significantly cheaper option than most.
  • Book Design Templates provides sizing, layout, and aligns all of the important elements of your cover, so you can focus on crafting a great-looking one with your artwork, style, and unique vision. Instructions are easy to follow and creating a perfect cover for your book in Word using book templates has never been easier. They also do interiors and you can receive a special discount with IngramSpark.

Premade Book Covers/Cover Specialists

Premade covers are ready-made covers that are sold only once and then removed from the website. Some are customisable, others are unique creations, usually made from several images combined. Premade covers are affordable and are an exciting way for authors to self-publish books.

  • SelfPubBookCovers are ready to customize and download instantly and are available in all genres, all styles, and from hundreds of professional artists.
  • The Book Cover Designer has over 6,000 covers in their database.
  • Killer Covers has a great reputation working with indie authors – they know the importance of a killer cover. 

Crowdsourcing Sites

If you want to hire a cover or interior designer, consider crowdsourcing sites. Simply name your price, post your project and then watch, as graphic designers bid on your job. Low risk, as you are guaranteed satisfaction. If you don’t love your book cover design then you get your money back.

  • 99 Designs is a means to find and work with talented freelance designers online.
  • Design Crowd boasts the perfect custom design, every time.
  • CrowdSPRING is an online marketplace for crowdsourced creative services.

Our Pickawoowoo Publishing Group book cover and format professionals spent years honing their craft, as any good specialists does, yet we understand the issues independent authors face be it time, money, control and the like. AuthorsWish will provide a number of alternatives even though we recommend that you never rely solely on technology. Technology over technique can produce commonplace design and cannot develop a relationship with your reader. Get feedback from professionals and your prospective readers...take time to design well.


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Julie-Ann Harper

Julie-Ann Harper is the founder of the Pick-a-WooWoo Publishing Group and Authors Wish. She has 25 years of experience in publishing, business training, self-publishing workshops and presentations. Julie-Ann is a passionate advocate towards true self-publishing and helping authors to view publishing as a business. With 15 awards in the area of publishing and business she truly walks her talk and is willing to share her knowledge with as many authors as possible, particularly when it comes to self-publishing. She is the co-author of 47 educational titles, two self-published titles, author of five children’s picture books and two traditionally published titles (McGraw Hill).