Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Design Templates for Microsoft Word from the Book Designer - a Review

Joel Friedlander, the owner of The Book Designer, is the creator and driving force behind this new product, interior design templates based on Microsoft Word for self-publishing authors to design and complete their own book interiors.

I was not sure what to expect when I downloaded my template. It was easy to download and open, something I cannot say for many varieties of software. 

It just gets better from there. Joel offers a downloadable 55 page instruction manual with each template. In fact, you can obtain one for free prior to purchasing your template. I appreciate this feature a great deal as I still prefer a paper manual when I am trying to learn how to master a new skill, or in this case, software. I like to be able to write notes in the margin or highlight information I will need to refer to on a regular basis. Make this another big plus for this product.

If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use this product. It is that simple. Should you run across something you don't know how to do to create the look you want in your book, you will be able to find the information you need in the downloadable PDF manual.

Why invest in one of these templates? The entire book is already laid out for you! This starts with the front matter and includes the author page at the back of the book! Everything that goes in between these two items in a book is included. 

All I will have to do is cut and paste in my manuscript, enter my own headers and footers, table of contents, etc, and my book interior will be done. 

The sample I am experimenting with is for a 6x9 interior but 8.5x11 interior templates will be available. eBook templates are also available and I am excited about learning to use one of these in the future.

Joel offers a wide range of design options for book interiors. Samples of each template are available for view at The Book Designer.

It gets better still. Full support for the templates is offered by The Book Designer. My experience with Joel has been he and his support staff are very easy to communicate with and always want to answer your question and make sure you are able to use the product or service you paid for. In this day and age, customer service can be iffy at best so this type of product support goes a long way with me.

Will this template produce a book interior exactly like one produced by a professional book designer using software designed specifically for creating book interiors? No. It can't because Microsoft Word was not designed for that purpose. 

What these templates can do is create an interior file that has all of the needed information for a print book, interior designs that every bit as professional in appearance as designs crafted by "pros" (by the way, Joel is one of those pros who does interior book design), and is easy to use. The cost and steep learning curve of the professional software is removed for an author who plans to self-publish.

Will an interior produces by one of these templates match up well against a traditionally designed interior design? Yes. It just won't be as "perfect" as one done using the pro software.

I can live with these differences, mainly because I cannot find them, and I believe most readers won't notice the differences either. I say most because a reader like my grandfather, who was a professor of journalism, a newspaper editor, typesetter and author of historical biographies, would. Gramps was one of those individuals who would be defined as a "pro" who would be able to pick up on the minor details. Collectors of books and aficionados of fine editions would be able to discern the differences as well.

So long as your audience is not geared for this small group of readers, I doubt any of your readers will be able to discern the interior of the book was created by the author. These templates are that good!

Finally, I can create a series of books that have matching interiors. Since I write non-fiction and my books are often in a series, this is a great feature for me. I am sure this holds true for fiction authors who have recurring characters in a series. Having identical interior designs is a great touch.

I have spent a lot of money on a wide range of products in my quest to learn about self-publishing and to build my tiny publishing empire. A considerable portion of that money was wasted. 

Authors who self-publish must always consider cost. Covers and editing are two areas where money needs to be invested. While you have to purchase the template, the cost is very reasonable for the product and you, the author, do the work of creating the interior. 

The design work has been done. If you can use Word, you can use this product. There is almost no learning curve and we all know time is money. Here is a great way to save money by doing it yourself and having the finished product look professionally done!

Money spent on these templates won't be. I strongly recommend you visit the site and investigate these wonderful templates. Here is a quick summary of why you should take a look:
  • low cost of each template
  • wide variety of design templates in a variety of sizes 
  • more designs and size are in the design and production process for future release
  • everything that needs to be included in a book interior is included
  • free manual describing in detail how to use the software/template
  • great customer support
  • based on Word, a software nearly every author already knows how to use
My next experiment will be to write one of my next non-fiction books directly in the template as I go! Imagine, you save time and get to see what your finished book will look like as you write it!