Here we are talking about indie book publishing and book design. By your fourth book, using templates and/or preformed styles, you might be at the stage where you can typeset your own book beautifully. But DIY design your first book and you could end up with a very non-standard looking book indeed. For instance, the leading (line spacing) may be too tight to read comfortably.
Too many questions may come up, like: what is the correct page margin? How do I line up the text bottoms? How do I achieve a consistent look?
Granted, for fiction you could probably get away with using Microsoft Word… if you make it a standard book size with correct margins for the chosen printer or print-on-demand host.
There are plenty of rules. Fiction requires a first line indent, whereas with non-fiction you can choose from using the indent or using a block style with more space between paragraphs, but not both.
Proofing is also very important. Proofing is the process of sending your file to the printer and getting back one bound copy to see if it looks OK. Very rarely it is perfect. The electronic proofing is also useful for checking, but you cannot see which pages are on the left and which are on the right.
IngramSpark has a set procedure for design and review, one which I know very well. Your photos must be high resolution CMYK and the margins should be 13 mm min. There must be an even number of pages and the last page should be blank.
The PDF file has to be PDF-X1 2003, and you will find this setting in InDesign. InDesign also has automated table of contents, like Word. The headers are harder to figure out… master pages helps here. Sometimes I have set up 21 master pages all for one book, mainly for the chapter headers.
Typesetting is complex. That’s why a book design specialist can help, so see our book design support service.