When I release my first book, Tied, later this month, it will be available as an ebook as well as a paperback. I plan on documenting the process and typesetting is step one (after writing and editing, that is).
I have been using Scrivener to write and assemble my book. If you plan on writing any long form work, I recommend you get your hands on this software. Try it out and watch some tutorials. It’s a little overwhelming, but understand that only a small part of its functionality is required to create a book.
One of the advantages to Scrivener is being able to compile multiple text documents into many different formats (ebook, manuscript, paperback, etc.), including .epub and .mobi ebook formats. There’s not many typography options I can control, because the display of an ebook is based on the settings of the ebook reading device. That’s okay. I’m willing to live with that.
Compiling for a paperback, Scrivener creates a file that is adequate, but for me, coming from a graphic design background, I wanted a lot more control over the look and feel of the book. I wanted access to things like drop caps, capitalized initial words, nested styles, and widow and orphan control.
Instead of allowing Scrivener to do it all for me for the paperback version, I will use it to export the raw book text file. Then I’ll switch over to Adobe InDesign to create a layout that is pleasing to the eye as well as easy to read. [Update June 2019 – I now use Affinity products, including Affinity Publisher, for all my books now.]
Last week I finished Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (affiliate link), and it uses an interesting layout, starting each chapter page halfway down the page, with the entire first line in a different font. I started Lee Child’s Killing Floor (affiliate link) last week too, and the way chapters or scene breaks are treated involve a large capital letter first (not a drop cap), followed by the first three words of the sentence all capitals and aligned in height to the lower case paragraph font. Then the regular paragraph font continues.
All these styles can be defined within InDesign (and within Affinity Publisher as well) and ensure consistency throughout the book. Once I have a layout I’m happy with and after I finish the typesetting of the book, I’ll know how many pages the paperback will be. That will dictate the layout of the book’s cover and spine width, step two.