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The Book Designer: A Great Resource for Self-Published Authors


If you are a self-published author looking for practical, actionable, advice on publishing and book marketing, The Book Designer is a website you will definitely want to bookmark. The tagline of the site is Practical Advice To Help Build Better Books, and it's fair to say the founder and owner, Joel Friedlander, delivers exactly what he promises. Friedlander is a successful self-published author, with a background in printing, graphic design, typography and book publishing that goes back to the early 1970s. He has grown with the industry, and now focuses his time and effort on bringing authors new ways to create, market and sell their books.

Navigating the site

The Book Designer is an easy site to navigate with all the important pages clearly displayed in a menu bar along the top of every page, and a sidebar that directs you to the many useful products and services the site offers for self-published authors. The home page is a regularly updated blog, with advice on a wide variety of topics related to writing, publishing and marketing.

The sidebar also contains a comprehensive, clickable list of topics covered in the blog, and at the bottom of the page, you will find a bar that allows you to browse the archives by month and year (they go back to August 2009). Below this, you'll find a clickable topic list, to allow you to quickly navigate to a handy information page on any of the following topics:

  • Self-Publishing
  • Book Design
  • Author Blogging
  • Book Marketing
  • Fonts & Typography

At the top of the home page, Friedlander offers his free guide, 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing. This is a 24-page eBook that provides tips, links, and resources for indie authors. Topics include:

  • How to find freelance editors
  • How to obtain and use ISBNs
  • Making sure your book has a great cover
  • Social media marketing for authors

Readers will need to provide and confirm their email address to download the free eBook.


The Book Designer covers writing tips and techniques, as well as design and publishing. Topics covered in the articles in the writing section include:

  • 9 Mental "Tools" for Writing When the Clock is Ticking … and Beyond
  • Creativity—You Are Absolutely Unique
  • The Ultimate Writer's Journal
  • Who Are You Going to Acknowledge in Your Book?
  • Writer's Tools and the Forgotten Keyboard
  • Rhythm and Pacing of Writing; The Final Flourish

Following some of these links, I found solid, actionable, advice from both Friedlander himself and other contributors. The emphasis is on actual tools and techniques you can use to write not only well, but efficiently, productively, and systematically. There is a lot of practical advice, presented in an entertaining way, and very little fluff.


Self-Publishing advice is another large topic section within the blog. Following the link in the sidebar, I found several useful posts on specific topics of interest to self-published authors, such as:

  • The Writing-Marketing Balance
  • An Audio Book Narrator's Guide for Authors
  • What's Going On With CreateSpace and KDP Print?
  • Do You Know Where Your ISBNs Are?
  • How to Organize Your Book's Front Matter

There are also weekly This Week In The Blogs posts, which are round-up posts featuring news and advice from blogs around the web, focusing on topics relevant to indie authors, and presenting links to several useful resources all in one post. This alone makes the blog worth following for many authors, as they have the opportunity to read a variety of relevant articles from top bloggers without having to seek them out.

Book design

As you would expect from a site named The Book Designer, the book design section is also full of useful advice. Some of the topics covered in this section are:

  • 110 Type Ornaments to Use in Your Book
  • Long and Complex Books Demand Attention to Detail
  • Book Design Pet Peeves
  • Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books
  • Learn About the Color of Type Pages in Book Design

I found this section highly useful. If you are an author with some design skills happy to design your own book, or even if you are outsourcing the whole process, the information in this section will help you navigate the process. This section will help you ensure your self-published book is not let down by design mistakes that you simply wouldn't see in traditionally published books.

The man behind the site

As already mentioned, Joel Friedlander has been accumulating experience in the industry since the early 1970s. In fact, he grew up with a father who was apprenticed in the printer's union straight out of high school, and learned his print skills back in the 1930s and 40s. Friedlander writes on the site about the effect that growing up in this environment, rich in the lore of printing and typography, had on him. He entered the printing industry himself, and his background in printing, typography and design has informed his own journey as a writer, author and publisher.

Now he is passionate about helping other independent self-published authors create the very best product, and experience, they can for their readers. He is heavily focused on providing existing and potential authors with practical advice about the publishing process, stating: Writers change the world one reader at a time. But you can't change the world with a book that's still on your hard drive or in a box under your bed.

The Book Designer has won several awards and accolades. It was named one of the Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites For Writers (in multiple years) and also won the Alliance of Independent Authors Award for Top Website for Self-Publishers.


There are several paid products and services for self-published authors available on the site. Firstly, they offer pre-designed book templates to enable authors to easily create beautiful books using their regular software (such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages). The templates are built to industry-standard specifications by an award-winning book designer, and allow authors to format their books for both print and eBooks. There are different templates available for novels, literary non-fiction, and general non-fiction.

The Book Designer also offers the Book Launch Toolkit, which is a package of tools, worksheets, and cheat sheets to get every aspect of your launch right, from your website and marketing materials, through to your book trailer and blog tour. There is also an interactive launch plan tool authors can use to build a 6-month customized plan, to suit their needs and objectives.

There is also a bundle of Author Media Kit templates to help authors connect with journalists, bloggers, reviewers, and buyers. This package includes 15 templates, step-by-step instructions on how to create the four types of photos you need for your media kit, and an in-depth guide on exactly what your media kit is for, what goes into it, and how to use it.

The Book Designer shop has a variety of other eBooks, reports and training resources for authors, including:

  • The Self-Publisher's Ultimate Resource Guide
  • A Self-Publisher's Companion
  • Quick & Easy Guide to Copyright
  • Quick & Easy Guide to ISBNs and Barcodes
  • Quick & Easy Guide to Book Distribution & Discounts
  • Quick & Easy Guide to Print on Demand
  • The Self-Publishing Roadmap

There is also the free eBook already mentioned, 10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing, available to download from the shop, or at the top of the home page.


The Book Designer runs monthly eBook cover design awards, and any author or cover designer can submit their cover for consideration. Monthly awards are given out for both fiction and non-fiction covers. The winning books are featured on the site, along with other entries, all with a short (often just one-line) critique or comment from Joel Friedlander. Note that not all eBook cover entries get a critique or comment, as sometimes, this is just not feasible for the site's editors.

Other useful pages

One very useful page on the site is the Book Awards for Self-Published Authors page, which provides a long list of book awards that accept self-published authors for consideration, along with links to the details of each award. This is a useful resource for authors who wish to submit their book for awards as part of their marketing and awareness campaigns.

Another useful page is the Book Sizes page, listing traditional trim sizes for print books, and also listing the sizes available at all major print-on-demand companies that a self-published author might consider using. This page also covers some information on topics like offset printing and paper colors.

Depending on where you are in your publishing journey, and what your budget is, one last page you might like to check out is the consulting page. This is where you can book a consultation with The Book Designer himself, Joel Friedlander, to discuss your book, ask specific questions, and get tailored advice, including a cost estimate of your book production. This will be in the form of a phone conversation, and you get a recording of the conversation to review at your leisure.

The Book Designer provides an excellent set of free and paid resources, all in one place, from an experienced, enthusiastic, and successful industry professional.

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