Should You DIY or Hire a Book Formatting Designer?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of book formatting, you need to decide if you want to do it yourself or hire a designer.

There are several factors to consider when making this decision, including time, cost, and skill level. We’ll go over everything in this article so you can make an informed choice.

Note: This article is part of a large series of articles all about how to format your book. Check out our content hub.

In this article, you will learn:
  1. The advantages of formatting yourself
  2. The advantages of hiring a formatter
  3. Which one is right for you

Option 1: Do It Yourself


One option is to format the book yourself. If you have the technical ability, time, and resources, this might be an excellent option for you. But remember to follow the formatting guidelines of whichever marketplace you decide to use.

Pros
Cons
Low cost – If you are proficient with any book designing software, you can save money by doing it yourself.Skill level – If you aren’t proficient in any book designing software, you could produce a poorly formatted book.
Creative control – You will have complete control over what your book looks like and how it turns out.Time-consuming – Formatting a book can take hours, days, or even weeks to complete. Doing it yourself will push out your publication date further than if you hire a designer.
Control over the timeline – Good designers stay very busy and may not get to your book as quickly as you’d like them to. If you do the formatting yourself, you control the timeline.More mistakes – When you format your own book, it’s harder to catch mistakes and errors than if you hire someone else.

The Best Formatting Software

We've got a whole article on this topic, but here's a table showing your best options.

ProgramEase of UseCapabilityCostCheck It Out
Adobe InDesign

DifficultHigh
(you can make anything)
  • $20.99/month
Check It Out
Vellum
EasyMedium
  • $199.99 — ebook only
  • $249.99 — ebook/print
Check It Out
Scrivener
MediumMedium
  • $49 for Windows or Mac
  • $41.65 for educational license
  • $19.99 for iOS
Check It Out
Microsoft Word
MediumMedium
  • $139.99 by itself
  • $150 for the entire suite, including Word
  • $7-10 per month for the entire suite
Check It Out
Kindle Create

EasyLow
  • Free
Check It Out
Reedsy

EasyLow
  • Free — no premium version
Check It Out

Vellum is by far the best option on this list. It makes the entire process easy to do, and looks fantastic. However, it is an expensive option, so it might not be for everyone.

The rest all of their pros and cons, but if you don't have much money and plan to do it yourself, we'd recommend going with Scrivener, especially if you already use it for writing.

For complex books, you should look at Adobe Indesign, though there is a sharp learning curve for this. Only attempt if you already have a solid understanding of the software.

All that said, there's a new software coming out soon called Atticus, that will provide the same functionality as Vellum, but with a much lower price tag.

Format Beautiful Professional Books

Easy to use, and and full of amazing features, you can quickly turn your book into a professional book.

Check It Out

Option 2: Hire a Designer

Some authors prefer to leave the formatting to the professionals. If looking over the formatting guidelines from publishing companies makes you feel exhausted or intimidated, hiring a designer might be the way to go.

Here are the pros and cons of hiring a designer to format your book.

Pros
Cons
Efficiency – Hiring a professional can save you valuable time. You can use that time for planning your book launch.Cost – The average rate can vary from $30 to +$200, depending on your book’s complexity.
Fewer mistakes – A professional designer will make fewer mistakes.Time – If your designer has a heavy workload, the turnaround time can be longer than if you do it yourself.
A professional-looking book – Your book will almost always look better if you hire a professional designer.Less control – When you hire a designer, they bring their unique vision into your project. If you’re not willing to hand over the creative reins to a professional, it’s best to take the plunge and design it yourself.

Overall, this can be a great option for authors who don't want to bother with the formatting process, or who admittedly have few design skills (I recommend a lot of introspection and external feedback to make sure you do).

Where Can You Find Formatters?

We've got a full breakdown of how to hire a formatter here, but the most common places to find designers are:

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork
  • Reedsy
  • Word-2-Kindle
  • Ebook Launch
  • Damonza

Once you've selected a possible candidate, you'll want to make sure they have a strong portfolio, a good star-rating, and testimonials.

Learn more about how to hire a designer.

Which Should You Choose?

Ultimately, it's up to the author what you want to do.

If you are pressed for cash and can't afford anything, doing it yourself with a program like Word is an option.

If you have some money and don't want to bother with the hassle of formatting a book, hiring out is a good possibility.

If you have a little more cash in the short-run and want to save money in the long-run, then you should definitely buy a formatting software and use that.

If you simply don't want to bother with any of this, hire a formatter.



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