The Art of laying out a Print Book:
Sundark: An Elle Black Penny Dread will be the third book I've laid out for print, and I think I may get the hang of this art form. ;) Because it is an art form, just one we've taken for granted so much that we forget that behind a well presented medium are tried and true, long time aesthetics. 'The Golden Mean' for one, for those who know their graphic design. The page of a book is all about that.
And I am no graphic designer! But after looking at the galleries of some book formatting outfits online, some of whom I had hoped had actually typeset in the past (the art of laying out a book for print with---well, TYPE), I was not digging their 'one size fits all modern fiction' approach. I wanted the Dark Victorian series to look like classic fiction and have 'old' elements of design; an inclusion of fleurons, for one (with both Risen and Bones I may have indulged in a few too many fleurons---I am not a graphic designer! ;D). For the Elle Black Penny Dreads, which I think keeps in the tradition of pulp adventure novels, I'm dropping in vintage spot illustrations. Very tiny! But like my discovery of fleurons, I am erring on the side of control-freak creator in some of my choices. For one, the last screenshot of Chapter Eight? That is a spot illo of a loo. I don't believe there's any publisher who would allow their graphic designer to put something like that in a serious book. In my case, I consider it a lovely ironic statement.
Against all good sense, I'm leaving it in. :D
In order to learn the aesthetics of book layout I did consult a book. IF there's only one book one can get, it's Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers, by Peter Masterson. Herein lies all the 'olde' knowledge descended from having blackened one's fingers with ink and cradled blocks of type in the hand. After that, I looked through all my fiction books to find the ones whose aesthetics I thoroughly enjoyed---and that's a front to back example of solid aesthetics, from the indicia page to a chapter's interior. The book I found myself returning to the most? The hardcover version of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely. (The 'extras' bit in the back, however, looked like they were laid by another hand---and badly).
I'll profess a third time, I'm not a graphic designer. But with a willingness to learn and imitate, I can lay out something decent. And perhaps with a little bit of fun thrown in.
Returning to it! I'm not done yet, because now I need to include something that no one cares to add to print books anymore--at least not for the last few decades. Some illustrations. :) More, later.