top of page


Typesetting is something I greatly enjoy doing. Taking a book from just plain manuscript stage to book format is pure magic!

I use a program called Adobe Indesign - because that's what I've been raised using, Adobe Programs are where I feel comfortable since I started using Adobe Photoshop as a young teen and really, once you know photoshop, you sort of know the basic layouts of most Adobe Programs. At least, that's how I always felt.

I know there are a lot of different programs and ways to layout books these days, many which, I am sure, are easier than Indesign - which can be quite convoluted - especially for a first-time user. I wouldn't call Indesign "user-friendly" - and it can be really overwhelming when you open it up and have no idea what any of it does.

I fiddled and fiddled, read tutorials, fiddled more, until I began to get a basic understanding of the program enough that I was comfortable with it. But I really like playing around with programs and figuring out how to make something work and look "just right".

What's kerning, tracking, leading? What is justification? What's a pica? How many hyphens in appropriate to have on a page? (Three, if you're wondering the answer to that. No more than three.) What are widows and orphans?

Are there different fonts which work better in different size books?

There is a lot to consider when formatting a novel.

I usually start with the basic thing first.

What's the size of my book?

I'm pretty picky about book size. (Actually, I'm pretty picky about everything when it comes to books.) I like small pocketbooks, but unfortunately pocketbooks aren't really a thing anymore, so the best size I have found that is an in-between is the 5inch by 8inch for paperback and the 6inch by 9inch for hardcover. Those are my "go-to" sizes.

Once I know those sizes, I can begin building the basic framework in which to put the manuscript within. You need to know what the printers 'trim' and 'bleed' is though - and this can vary between who you decide to print through.

Never is it just a case of dumping a manuscript into Indesign. You need to set up what is called "Master Pages" and depending on how much detail you desire to have in your books layout, you can create as many Master Pages as you desire. I tend to create a Master Page for every chapter in the book, therefore allowing separate titles and headings on the right and left pages. I also create Master Pages for illustration pages, back end pages, front end pages and so-on-so forth. Once I have these in place as a skeleton, I dump the manuscript into the Indesign file and start to muck around with the paragraph settings. I have to create seperate paragraph styles for a lot of little things. Some paragraphs I don't want indented. Some paragraphs I don't want such tight kerning. I am constantly adding to this as I typeset and discover what needs to be tweaked here or there.

There are two fonts' that I like for the bulk of a manuscript - they are "Minion Pro" and "Adobe Garamond Pro"

I don't know why, but I have never really been into fancy fonts for chapter titles. I really like clear, defined, neat typesetting. I think it is simply a reflection of the order I'd like to have around me all squished into typesetting.

However, what I do like doing, is offsetting the simpler fonts, with embellishments that I can create through illustrations.

For example here is the starting pages for Book 1: Key - I decided to take some of the little divider illustrations I created as chapter dividers and use them to create embellishments beneath the chapter headings. Just to add some flare to the white space.

These are the chapter dividers I illustrated, using Photoshop and a lovely little watercolour brush. Sometimes there are breaks in-between scenes in a chapter, and these are what I use to show that break. It seems like a lot of effort, I know, but to me - it's really important to put the effort into a book as you - as a writer - put so much work into writing, crafting, editing the novel - that effort and work can also be reflected in the typesetting and layout of a novel as well. It is just as much a labour of love too.

Some of the illustrations are set at the beginning of chapters. Some I have scattered throughout chapters. This adds variety.

Of course, what also happens while I typeset, is I discover what illustrations I need to add along the way - which I why I like to begin the typesetting and work through both the illustrations and the typesetting together so they both blend seamlessly. Otherwise, I might have to go back and reset everything if I want to add an illustration or take an illustration out and that's just hours of work no one needs.

I really want these books to be something special. Afterall, if I am going through the effort of rewriting and having my amazing editor help me re-edit them - then I want to do the utmost best that I possibly can. I'm not rushing the process. If it takes me years and years to get this series done, then it will, but I will get it done and it will be marvellous when I do and I will be so happy to have accomplished it in my life.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page