As with the front cover of your book, a great way to find out how you want your book to look inside is to go to a bookstore and have a look through some books! Think about whether you want your book to look modern, traditional, funky, fun – whatever! The inside of your book should match the tone of your topic. If you’re an engineer, make your book look technical. If you’re a financial planner, you might want to make it look a bit more serious. Also consider your target market. If you’re a financial planner who targets retirees, you might want it to look serious and conservative; if you’re a financial planner who works with twenty-somethings, you could make your book look serious and modern.

I’m often asked by authors if they can use just a few colour images here and there in their book, and the answer is you can, but you shouldn’t. It’s all to do with the technicalities of printing. Books are printed in ‘sections’, which are page multiples of eight (usually). To give you a rough idea, imagine a sheet of A4 paper with four book pages printed on each side, then folded and trimmed; that’s an eight-page section. A 224-page book is made up of 28 eight-page sections. If you’re printing just one colour throughout your book, each of these sections will be printed black only. But if you want to add just a single colour image to one section, that whole section needs to be printed in colour, which is more expensive. If you want to spread a few colour images throughout your book, suddenly most or all of your sections need to be printed in colour, just to have, say, 10 or 15 colour images. That’s hardly economical. This is why many books requiring colour images are printed with one or two colour sections, usually in the middle of the book.

Here’s the first rule of book design and layout: don’t do it yourself in Microsoft Word! Just, don’t. Many self-published books have used Word, and it’s obvious as soon as you open them. Word isn’t a page layout program, it’s a word processor. No designer or publishing professional uses Microsoft products for layout, either Word or Publisher. The results are poor compared to professional-standard programs.

You may have somebody at work who ‘does your newsletter’ or a cousin who likes to ‘play around in Photoshop’, but if you have them lay out your book the results are likely to leave you wishing you’d spent the money to do it properly. I could fill a whole chapter just with stories where authors have tried to save money and time only to expend more of both when we’ve had to come in and salvage a book that has turned to porridge. Doing it yourself or using an inexperienced person means more time, money and hassle, not less. As with printing and many other things to do with books, using an experienced professional will ensure everything is done properly.