Book Cover Design

How to Know If Your Book Manuscript Is Ready for Interior Design and Formatting

Every self-publisher or author is excited to finally see his or her book formatted for print. So excited, in fact, that the temptation is strong to jump the gun and send the book formatter a manuscript that isn’t quite ready for formatting.

Sending your designer a manuscript that is unfinished or missing information is a lose-lose: it’s expensive for the author and frustrating for the designer. Here are a few ways for you to avoid “surprise” costs by making sure your book manuscript is truly ready for the formatting stage.

If your book manuscript is ready for interior design and formatting, you will be able to answer “yes” to the following three questions.

Has your book been professionally edited and proofread?

I list this first because it is a complete must. Professional editing and proofreading is essential, not only for the quality of your final product, but also to keep the cost of formatting your book from exceeding what your book designer quoted you. Every book should be proofread again after layout, but at that point, the proofreader should only be finding minor typos or layout issues, not reworking paragraph structure or removing full sentences.

Have you merged your manuscript files into one Word file?

If you haven’t done this yet, merge all your various Word files, etc. into one file with your whole book in it — from title page and copyright to references and appendices. Having this all together (and waiting to send it until you have all the needed info) is the best way to save yourself from paying extra charges if your book designer has to bill for admin tasks like ordering and merging Word documents.

Have you collected the printer specs that the designer will need?

Your book interior layout designer can’t start on the layout without knowing the page size, or if there are any special requirements from the printer. For example, print-on-demand book printers like Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly CreateSpace) or IngramSpark have their own particular requirements listed on their websites. It’s good to get a quotation from a printer and show your book designer the specs you have given the printer — this means fewer surprises for both of you when the final layout is sent to the printer. Some designers will help you communicate with the printer; be clear with your designer if this is part of what you need his or her help with!

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If you can answer “yes” to the questions above, your book may be ready for formatting! But yeah … I get it.  You’re anxious to see what your book will look like, and can’t wait to get started. Maybe the manuscript is still being edited, or the proofreader needs an extra week. There are perhaps two things you can get your designer to start on before your full manuscript is ready for formatting. They are:

Get your designer to start on the book cover design. It’s great to have your book cover designed ahead of time for marketing purposes. The front cover can be designed virtually any time after you have a finalized title and a book summary.

Get your designer to create a sample interior layout. Sometimes you may need a sample book interior layout to pitch your book to a publisher or as a sneak peak for your readers. Depending on how your book designer works, he or she may be ready to create a sample layout with a manuscript that is not finalized. For example, last year I created a cookbook interior layout sample for a client who then came back to me this year with the full cookbook contents ready for formatting. For any book layout, your designer should send you a few samples pages before the whole book is formatted.

You’re bursting with excitement (and so am I!) It’s wonderful to see your book in its final format! Hang in there — you’re close to the finish line! Don’t turn your final files over to your book designer until they’re really ready!


If you reached the bottom of this post, you must be pretty serious about finalizing your book manuscript and beginning the book layout stage. Let’s talk about what you should do next.

Bright Book Covers From India

I recently came across these snapshots of bright and beautiful book covers I saw in a bookstore in India in 2014. I still find India's enthusiasm for color so inspirational — browsing their bookstores was always a pleasure!


Thank you for taking the time to look at this post! If you like bright and beautiful book covers, we should talk! Contact me through my Contact page.