There’s a lot of excitement associated with designing your eBook, but designing an eBook requires different considerations than does designing a print book. And the first rule of eBook design is, quite simply, keep it simple. When designing your eBook, your primary goal is to make your book accessible on any device.
Design for the Screen
A two-page spread is typically the norm for printed books, and this format allows a lot of freedom in terms of design, from opposing headers to margin changes. When designing your eBook, however, your design choices will be overridden by the user’s choice of font size, the device size and layout, and the ability of the device to render graphics and characters. The basis for successful eBook design is text, and the basic unit of design is the screen.
Page Numbers Don’t Matter
Regardless of how a book is printed, you can typically count on page 24 always being page 24. This is not the case with an eBook. Due to the many different devices being used to read your eBook, page numbers are fluid. Device, screen size, and settings can all change how your eBook appears, as well as the page length. To create a positive reader experience, focus on creating content that flows from page to page and from chapter to chapter.
Coding Is the Language of Reader Experience
To include features in your eBook, such as images, special fonts, and unique layouts, you must use code to communicate with the device. However, not all devices will display special features in the way you might intend, so in most cases, your focus should be on the text. Choose a common sans-serif font,such as Arial or Verdana, that every device can display. Don’t worry about page breaks between chapters and other niceties that are often included in print books, because they don’t translate well to digital devices.
By focusing on reader experience, designing your eBook becomes a matter of practicality. Certainly, there are topics that require special considerations (a how-to book on photography, for example, that includes several pictures and captions), but for most fiction writers, it’s text that sells, so focus on designing your eBook to be readable.