Interview with Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

By on Jan 12, 2015 in Interviews

Joel-2014-headshot 300xIf you’re an author who is self-publishing your own book, book design is a vital component to consider. Doing so will help ensure you’re producing the best quality product possible for your readers. Among other things, book design involves addressing aspects of your book such as its content and structure, headings, format, font styles, page layout, binding and book cover design. There’s one man who knows all about book design and doing it the correct way. His name is Joel Friedlander. Joel has won awards for his work in the area of book design and also happens to be one of the world’s leading experts in self-publishing. We interviewed Joel to find out more.

1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background, experience and how you got into the publishing industry?

After a career in book publishing, advertising, and graphic arts I decided to specialize in book design, and I’ve been designing and producing books for publishers and authors since the 1990s. Today I run blog, sell pre-designed book templates and other tools for authors at, and satisfy authors who want custom book production through I also speak to publishing groups, writers conferences, and at industry events, and I’m the proud co-author of the brand new reference book for indie authors, The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide.

2. Since you started working in the publishing sector, what are some of the key changes you’ve seen happen over the years?

Since I’ve been in book publishing since before the internet, that has to be the biggest change that’s come to the industry. Digitization of typesetting and page layout was already in the process of revolutionizing the way books and other graphic products were produced, and that development was supercharged by the vast move of large parts of the population to online environments.

3. Self-publishing is starting to grow in India. Could you please share what self-publishing means to you and give any advice to writers in India who are just getting into self-publishing?

Although self-publishing has had a long history in the United States, the rise of digital publishing and print on demand manufacturing have opened enormous opportunities for writers. Whether you are a fiction writer with stories to tell, an instructor who wants to pass along hard-won knowledge, or a businesswoman who wants to enhance her reputation as a thought leader in her industry, self-publishing can have a major impact on you reaching your goals. Self-publishers need an entrepreneurial spirit, and the willingness to talk to people who share their interest in the subjects about which they write. The ability to publish your own books is the ultimate freedom for any writer.

4. You are a renowned expert in the area of book design. Could you please share 3 or 4 top tips for writers in India to consider when working on their books?

My first tip would be to find a professional book designer with whom you can form a long-term relationship, since it may not repay you to try to learn book design and typography. If you would rather format your own books, spend time looking at the books produced by traditional publishers, who have professionals on their staff. And make use of some of the great new technology that can help you quickly and easily create industry standard books at a very low cost. An example would be the book templates you can find on which allow anyone with Microsoft Word to turn out a very acceptable book interior. For book covers, hire a pro, you won’t regret it.

5. In your opinion, are there any aspects of book design that are particularly important for writers to consider when producing ebooks and if so, what are they?

Ebooks present a special challenge to book designers, and that challenge is translating their own designs into the ebook reader world, where the text will reflow, the reader can change the style and size of fonts at will, and not all devices will display the book in the same way. Because these ebooks are still in their infancy and a bit primitive, we mostly try to avoid mistakes and still turn out books that are enjoyable to read. And that starts with good navigation, so readers know where they are in the book and how to easily move around within the book. Contents, notes, and other elements of your book should have live links to help accomplish these tasks.

6. How can writers find out more about you?

The best way is to visit my blog at and then grab a copy of my free 24-page report available there called “10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing.” This handy guide will help you get started, as it has helped over 20,000 authors already.

Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.