Fine Tuning - Designing the Book

The Cover Design

Sing Like A Unicorn Cover

The full cover layout with bleed, turnaround , spine, and ISBN code. Includes guides that appear in the software that show the turnaround and bleed

The cover is arguably the most important part of the picture book, as it has to immediately capture the attention of any potential readers. I wanted to leverage the illustration as much as possible, as print design is not my strongest skillset. I knew that the typography had to be a little bit different, so I managed to find a typeface with some secondary options to give the logo a bit of a magical feel.

As the cover is casebound (hardcover), the dimensions and specifications ended up being quite a bit different from the individual pages, so I had to make the illustration slightly bigger than originally planned. The specs were supplied by our printer so that I could get all of the dimensions right and make sure that our unicorn’s tail wasn’t getting lost in the fold of the cover!

What software did I use to design the book? 

Designers typically use Adobe InDesign for page layout. This is a great bit of software that will do all you need to make your book. However, in my case, I couldn’t justify the extra monthly subscription cost for something I would only use once - as I currently only have a subscription to Photoshop - so I opted to give an alternative product called Affinity Publisher a go. The good thing about Affinity Publisher is it’s a one-off cost, not a subscription! 

How many pages? From 24 to 32 pages

I initially tried to match the book's text with an image for every page, with the idea of fitting it all into 24 pages. However, upon further research, I realised that 32 pages might actually be cheaper to produce than 24 pages - as 24 pages is actually custom work, while 32 is an industry standard.

In the end, having 32 pages to work with meant I could emphasise both the text and the artwork in equal measure, which was a win-win! 

Making the text work with the illustrations

 I wanted to keep the typography simple, but with a twist. I leveraged the secondary faces of the font to emphasise the rhyming words in the book. 


Endpapers are extra pages that are attached to both the cover and the story pages. This means you can create something extra that only hardcover additions of your book will have. They create a nice transition between cover and text and also tend to have a different paper texture for a bit more contrast. We opted for the same paper stock as our main story pages, minus any coating, to create a subtle textural contrast to begin and end the reading experience.

Sing Like A Unicorn Endpapers


Technical stuff - sizes and things

Page specs

The pages are the simplest part to set up, they’re simply 8” x 10” with 3mm bleed.

Bleed is the extra part of the image that is printed, then trimmed off. Having bleed ensures that there is no white showing if a page isn’t trimmed properly. The bleed on each page was set up to be 3mm. That meant that, for every illustration, I needed to add an extra 3mm (that would then end up being trimmed off).

End papers
As they are the same size as the pages, the dimensions were 8” x 10” with 3mm bleed. 

Cover specs

Overall size
460.5mm x 292mm

Cover area
The dimensions of the visible cover area vary slightly as they’re a bit bigger than the pages: 

210mm (width) x 260mm (height)

The casebound cover includes 16mm turnaround, which is the part of the cover that is folded over the board.


Thankfully there was enough spine for me to include the book title!

Spot Gloss / Spot UV

This is a transparent, shiny effect you can add to parts of a book's cover to make them stand out. In our case, we decided to add this to the title of the book. We found that it was definitely worth doing as it barely made a dent in the overall printing costs.

How it was setup:

Spot gloss on cover

This is how the spot gloss PDF was supplied: it's supplied as a separate PDF with just the layer of text that is getting spot gloss applied to it, the printer asked me to make the colour of spot gloss magenta.


Thanks for reading :)