Last To Fall CoverI generally love the layout and design phase of a new book. Psychologically, I know that the book is nearing its release date so I’m getting excited about seeing the finished product. Mentally, I get some downtime from writing a book to transferring that design to a layout and helping plan a cover. I’m still working on a book, but I’m not writing so that area of my creative psyche is getting a break while I still get to be creative and productive.

That said, the layout and design of my new book has been a rough one. I really like the cover image. That all came together pretty easily. However, I ran into a couple snags expanding that cover to front-spine-back version. Getting the spine in the right place has been tricky. It didn’t take long to fix, but usually, I have never needed to fix it before.

The bigger snag has been laying out the interior. I have always had little to no problem getting a typical book set for publication. That’s because there’s little creativity involved compared to a tabletop book size. My book, No North, No South…, was my first oversized book. It worked out all right because the design was relatively simple for a tabletop book.

My upcoming book, The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Death of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg, has been much more challenging. There’s a lot of variety in the book and very few pages that don’t have some sort of graphic element on it. There’s different sidebars and call-out quotes that are presented in different ways. There’s tricky pictures that look fine until you prepare them for publication and suddenly they look pixelated, or worse yet, you don’t see the pixilation until you see the proof.

However, the biggest headache has been the bleed photos. They will look great, particularly the two-page spreads that are 11 x 17 inches in size, but the program that will be printing the book doesn’t like them. It can print them, but I have had to make all kinds of adjustments to get it to work. I’m waiting to see how it looks in print to see if too much of the photo is lost to the page gutter and it destroys a beautifully centered image.

So, I’m waiting nervously to see the proof. Some changes will need to be made. I knew that because I needed to see the book printed before I could decide on those changes. When it’s done, though, and in bookstores, I expect it to attract lots of attention.