Monday, 19 May 2014

My Baptism into Fonts (groan) #amwriting

Coco Chanel

So I have sent my lovely book off to be typeset and laid out by a pro, and have spent many weeks looking at the inside of books, none of which so far have had any kind of 'standard' layout as far as I can see - they do vary enormously.

But - getting the font right and the chapter headings of your book looking decent is essential. The font says so much about whether your book is literary or commercial, modern or old-fashioned. The chapter headings give a flavour of the type of book the reader can expect.

Illustrated Chapter Heading
If you are briefing a designer who is on the other side of the ocean and therefore not able to see your pointing finger, remember that a brief to produce something 'simple and classic' can be interpreted in several ways. Like telling Coco Chanel to wear something 'simple and classic' or telling the Queen to wear something 'simple and classic' - the results can be very different depending on who is interpreting them.

Drop capitals

Also bear in mind that designers like design - i.e. they might want to squeeze as many fancy ideas for fonts as possible - curlicued chapter-headings, drop-capitals, twiddly numbers, and the end result can be distracting rather than enhancing for the reader.

There are obviously different interpretations and so if you are leaving this to someone else, your brief must be clear and if possible you should give examples of interiors you have liked. I looked through hundreds of paperbacks of a similar feel and genre in my local charity shop. (It's ok, I did buy a few afterwards.)

From this I saw that too much illustration and design, and the book ends up looking like a children's or young adult novel. Too little and it looks like it has not been designed at all.

If you don't know what you want until you see it (that was me, I'm afraid) then this site has a selection of 50 templates ready for use along with the instructions about how to format your document in Word. Well worth a look even if you are asking a designer to format your book.

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