How to Set Up a Book

There was a time when creating a book was the exclusive realm of book publishers, but with the advent of modern technology, anyone can do it. You still may need a printer and bookbinder, but you can design a book the way you want it to look. You can design the font, the illustrations (art or photos) how the pages look, and other details. Here are some tips to get started.

Do an outline of your book in a word processing program or with pen and paper. This step is essential because it gives you the blueprint for your book. Determine how many chapters there will be, what fonts the text and chapter headings will be in, how much white space you want on each page, where you want to place illustrations and how many you intend to use, where the foreword or introduction will be, and if there will be contents and index pages.

Determine the size of your book. Standard nonfiction and fiction hardcover books are about 6 by 9 inches, but bigger coffee table books usually feature big photos or artwork. It depends on what kind of book you plan to publish. For a hard cover novel, open Quark XPress and go to File>New. Set the width for 7 inches and the height to 10 inches. Set the margins to 1 inch each. This gives you the working space of 6 by 9 inches and allows for trim in the final book.

Use Adobe Photoshop to design the chapter headings. Although Quark XPress gives you some creativity with titles, Photoshop creates sharper, more distinctive heads. Even if you plan to have each chapter titled "Chapter X," it will look better created in Photoshop. A basic black design is available that looks professional.

In Photoshop, go to File>New. Set the width to 12 inches and the height to at least 6 inches. Set the resolution to at least 400 dots per inch. Click on the Type Tool in the side toolbar. Click on the document and type "Chapter 1." Go to Window>Styles. From the Styles palette, select Basic Black. If you roll your mouse pointer over the styles and stop on one, a popup will tell you what it's called. Then go to Layer>Layer Style>Drop Shadow because the automatic shadow of 75% opacity is a little heavy. It is defaulted at 75%, so slide it to 40% or so. Choose one that looks good for your book. When the chapter heading looks good, go to Layers>Flatten Layer. Then crop the file to the size you want and save as a TIFF file.

Create your page numbers box in Quark XPress. Although the program will number the pages for you, it is safer to number your own. You can do this by creating a text box from the side toolbar at the bottom of your page. Type "Page 1" in it and justify it right, left, or centered. Then draw a hairline (0.5 point line) just above the text box. So you don't have to recreate this on every page, do the above except type Page XX. Then go to File>New>Library. This will allow you to create a new library for your project where you can save things you will use multiple times. Select the text box and hairline together and drag them to your library. Whenever you come to a new page, drag this item from your library to the page and type your number.

Create a picture box in Quark XPress by going to the side toolbar and selecting the picture box (the one with the X in it) and drawing it at the top or middle of your first page. Go to File>Import Picture and bring in your "Chapter 1" heading. Then draw a text box from the side toolbar and import the text of your novel or nonfiction book. Select all the text (Command-A on a Mac or Control-A on a PC) and format it with the font and indents you want.

Print proofs of your book to look at and edit. You can print "galleys," which are essentially exact pages as they will appear in book form. This will give you the visual of the final book and allow for last edits and corrections.

Contact a printer to print your book. Find out what format the printer needs to print from. Usually these days, professional book printers want the pages in PDF format. You can export individual pages or the entire book to PDF directly from Quark XPress starting with version 7. Go to File>Export>Layout as PDF. You usually can submit the PDF online or on a CD.

Always start a new chapter on the right-hand page. This is where people's eyes go first. If a chapter ends mid-page, don't start your next one after it. Go to the next right-hand page.

When creating your chapter heads in Photoshop, save the original as a Photoshop (.psd) document to keep the layers intact. You can keep using the same file to change the chapter numbers or names and save it as a new file each time.