Check the License
1. Check the license of the fonts that you choose. Typefaces have various licenses, some allowing you use the font for personal use but not for commercial use and others allowing you all rights to the font, excluding the right to sell the font. It’s important to find out what kind of license you’re working with to avoid infringing on a designers intellectual property. In most cases the designer just asks that you purchase the font for a small fee in order to use it commercially.
I highly recommend Google Fonts for finding typefaces. They have a very curated collection of open license fonts. The site is also really clear about who designed the type and what license it’s under. However, a good precaution to take is to research the designer of the typeface and find out directly from them, which license their font is under.
Margins and Bleed Oh My!
2. It’s vital that all of the type in your book stays inside the bounds. First, make sure you understand what margins and bleed are and how to use them in your book. Secondly, check with your printer to find out what their specification is for margins and bleed. Lastly, NEVER let any type (or important imagery) land outside of the margin or in the bleed. If you do land in the out of bounds area, your file may get rejected upon submission to the printer, or your type will get cut off in the printing of your book.
3. Every aspect of art requires a certain amount of balance and legibility. When it comes to designing a book, balance and legibility should be a priority above all other design attributes. I know all too well that there are many beautiful handwritten and display fonts out there. It can be tempting to get super excited and go crazy with fonts. Here is where I convince you to reel it back in, once your book becomes a listing or is on a shelf, it’s a product. This means when considering the design of your book, you have to start to think about your audience and what a customer looks for when making a book purchase. If your customer is overwhelmed by the design of your book, then your message isn’t coming through and you might have just lost that customer.
If your book is illustration heavy, type should take a backseat and chill out. If your book is Type heavy, illustration should take the back seat. Everything has to balance with each other in order to convey a message in a quick and marketable way.
It’s not always about being the loudest and boldest book on the shelf, it’s balance and smart design choices that win over the customer.
The Elements and Principles of Design...and Why They Matter
4. You don’t always have to follow the rules of design, but you really should consider them. The elements and principles of design exist because they work. To put it short, they are the fundamentals of visual communication. It’s about how we as humans digest information and to be able to connect with one another. If you’re going to break a rule of design, don’t break them all at the same time and always consider your audience and messaging. Here are the elements and principles of design to keep in mind....
Elements of Design
Principles of Design
Keep it Classy
5. There is one unspoken rule that I'd like to address. Try to keep a minimum of two fonts throughout your entire book. You have to just trust me on this one. Too many fonts results in literal chaos, they eye cannot compute.
All in all, if you design with consistency, relevant messaging, balance and follow the elements and principles of design, you should be well on your way to selling a highly effective and marketable book.
Don’t be afraid to contract a designer (or me) for some help in this area. Type is often overlooked in indie publishing and that’s unfortunate because it’s a huge factor to your book’s success.