Step 3: Layout, Font, Titles and Text
This probably seems like a mundane and boring step to read about, yet it is crucial to the finished work when you self publish and often the small details make a big difference.
In step 2 you wrote out your text. In the case of a novel, you can mostly just focus on getting the words down on paper and not worry too much about style or appearance until later. With a picture book you are kind of engrained in the process right from the get-go since it is built upon visual communication as much as it is on text – maybe even more.
You have to position your text where it is easy to read, doesn’t interfere with the main picture and at a size that is legible. Plan out your images and make room for your text. Words are a crucial element of the picture itself. I personally like to have my text typed out and printed on a piece of paper at the size it will be when I go to print and then plan my images around it. This being said, it is wise to decide what size book you will print first. Createspace.com has numerous standard sizes to choose from. With ‘Little Lambs Wonder Why?’ I went with a 8.5 x 8.5 square shape, as it just suited the amount of text I had. With ‘Mr. Nobbles I Have A Problem!’ I knew I wanted more space for my images and did not have a ton of text to incorporate so I went with 8.5 x 11.5 rectangular shape. the text itself was all within speech bubbles like a cartoon, so was very much incorporated into the pictures on every page and not independent of them. keep in mind with a picture book you are actually working with a double page spread, which you can make one inclusive element or divide into two separate elements. You can see I have done both with the images below.
Tip: We know we read text left to right, but the human eye also processes a picture from top left clockwise in a circle spiraling to the center, picking up details as it goes.
A typical book layout will be:
- -Front cover
- -Title page (first interior page right side)
- -Copyright and ISBN info
- -Dedication or start of your story
- -The remaining interior pages.
- -Author Bio, Advertisement or Info (Last page left side)
- -Back Cover
***Keep in mind margins, bleed areas and center fold (if it’s a double page). I will cover these under technical details for Createspace.com. They do provide templates for these which are useful.
THIS IS IN CAPITALS. I’M NOT YELLING, JUST MAKING A POINT. Font accounts for a lot more than we give thought to usually. With my picture books I am usually on the hunt for something cartoon like and not too formal looking like ‘Papyrus’. ‘Little Lambs Wonder Why?’ for example my cover title I choose a ‘Chalkboard’ font, and felt that was appropriate for the cover, but not the main text. When I write a dedication it is more personal and I look for a more cursive style imitating handwriting such as ‘Apple Chancery’. With my novels ‘Palatino Linotype’ is my first choice, size 11. I also ‘justify’ the text which centers it within the page, rather than align left which is typically how Word documents are set up.
You can customize a title quite a lot, so there is a fair amount to consider and choose, from size, font, bold, italic, underlined, numbered, indented, justified, color or any other number of idiosyncrasies. With ‘Elliza & Melkio’ chapter titles I kept the same font as my main text, but doubled its size and made it all capitals. I didn’t need to make it bold and put the chapter number above the title text. I also dropped it down several lines (the same every chapter) from the top of the page and centered it. Be sure to keep the pattern from chapter to chapter.
These are all small, subtle, but important choices to make with your books. Font, layout, titles all need careful consideration to enhance the continuity of your book. Play with them and don’t be afraid to experiment until you find what works best for you.
GO TO STEP 4: Coming Soon