You’ve spent months or even years writing your manuscript and now you are ready to publish. Congratulations! Like many contemporary authors, you have decided to take the route of self-publishing – but where to next? What can you do yourself? And what professional help should you invest in?

Self-publishing has become a popular choice for authors of all kinds, and in the DIY spirit many are choosing to undertake the production phase of publication, including the typesetting of their precious manuscript, themselves – but this could be a big mistake.

Very few people understand what typesetting is, unaware of the significance of this extremely nuanced process in which masses of seemingly unnoticeable (but extremely important) rules, tips and tricks can produce seamless and smooth reading experiences. Typesetting is one of those things that you only notice when done badly – and have we seen some bad jobs in our time!

It can take years to master the technical art of producing an attractive, easy-to-read, professional book, but it’s worth it. Here we take a look at some of the reasons you might be tempted to typeset your book yourself and discuss just four of the many drawbacks of DIY typesetting. But first, let’s clarify what typesetting is and why it’s imperative to your manuscript’s success.

What is typesetting?

Typesetting is the arrangement and design of text on a page. It’s how a text actually looks. The typesetting process includes font choice, type size, kerning, spacing, leading, tracking, punctuation settings, hyphenation, scaling, justification, widows and orphans, and so much more.

Professional typesetters will provide other interior design elements too, such as judicious use of all-important white space, new chapter designs, visual supports and more.

Why is typesetting important?

Poor typesetting makes reading a chore and results in an unprofessional-looking book. In the reverse, great typesetting makes reading effortless. A clear, quality layout leaves the right impression, produces an enjoyable reading experience and ensures your message is communicated effectively.

Three reasons you may be tempted to try DIY typesetting

You have spent all this time tirelessly working on your own to write your manuscript, how hard can it be to continue working on your own? Your manuscript is ready to show the world so why not get it out there as quickly as possible?

Here are three reasons you might be tempted to take on that huge task yourself:

  1. Saving money. Hiring a professional typesetter comes with a fee, and of course you’d prefer to save that money. If this is the top reason why you are considering DIY typesetting, do keep in mind just how long it’s going to take you – especially if you don’t have the right software. If you are publishing a non-fiction book to support your business, consider the cost of producing an unprofessional-looking book. Your book is a reflection of you and could end up costing you far more than paying for a professional typesetter.
  2. Making sure your book looks exactly how you envision it. Maybe you have a specific look in mind and you are worried that a professional typesetter either won’t understand or respect your vision, or won’t be able to recreate it. A quality typesetter will work closely with you to ensure the finished product is everything you’ve dreamed of – that we can guarantee.
  3. Typesetting looks easy – why would I hire a professional? It’s as quick and easy as pasting your text into a Word doc, selecting a font, justifying the text, and adding page numbers, right? Not quite. Typesetting is extremely nuanced. We have all seen books that look cheap and nasty, and this is often the result of poor typesetting.

DIY typesetting: four reasons why it’s a bad idea

Now, let’s look at four of the reasons why DIY typesetting is a bad idea.

1. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your text – why stop now?

Chances are you’ve already spent hours upon hours working on your manuscript. Why sell it short? Why not give it the very best shot at success? Professional typesetting can give your book the edge it needs to capture the hearts and minds of your audience.

2. You don’t have the right software

You can typeset a text in Word, but you need to be familiar with the styling jargon and design elements required to format a book. However, if you don’t have any advanced design or typesetting software, you simply will not be able to achieve even a passable finished product. If you’re open to investing in the right software, keep in mind that can be expensive to buy and time-consuming to learn.

3. You’re not familiar with typesetting techniques

There’s only so much you can learn from scouring the internet or examining your favourite books. Typesetting is technical – even something as seemingly innocent at a misplaced hyphen or wrong font choice can turn a reader off and make your publication look amateur.

4. You’re too close to your text

You’ve read and re-read your text. A fresh pair of eyes will pick up on little mistakes and typos that you’ve scanned over time and time again. Proofreading is an integral part of producing a book, and when you’re too close to your text, it can be near impossible to do yourself.

How to choose a professional typesetter

DIY typesetting is time-consuming and results in an unpleasant reading experience, reducing your manuscript’s chance of success. With that in mind, it’s time to find a professional typesetter that you can rely on.

Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:

  • Is the typesetter experienced?
  • Can they typeset both print and digital publications?
  • Do they provide editing/proofreading services?
  • Can they work to your deadline?
  • Can they produce any visual elements you’d like to include in your text?
  • Can they help you upload to online resellers?

Get started today

If you’ve changed your mind about DIY typesetting and are ready hand your book over to a professional, get in touch today. Contact our friendly team on (07) 3398 9365 or head to our contact page.