What Makes a Good Interior Design? What to Expect During the Design Process

Once the writing and editing of your book have been completed and a cover concept selected, the next step is solidifying an interior design. Though interior design may seem straightforward, the process is far more intentional than simply placing words onto pages and starting the presses. A strong interior design should always complement the cover design, and takes into account content, genre, and any included graphics. Making reading an easy and pleasurable experience is why design is an important step in the publishing process.

So, what are the nuts and bolts that make up a strong interior design? There are several hallmarks to keep in mind.


Reads Well. Readability is the ultimate goal for a book’s interior and, as previously mentioned, a good design will allow the reader to effortlessly fly through the pages. Crowded text, messy graphics, and not enough visual negative space yields to a cumbersome reading experience. A good balance between visuals, negative space, and appropriate font selection ensures an approachable book that encourages readers to keep reading and communicates information effectively.

Complements Cover Design. The interior should be a natural extension of the cover, and as such, their styles should complement each other. You don’t want your reader to open your book and be surprised by what they see. An example of good design is in Melissa Agnes’s book, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, which uses negative space to convey peace and calm on the cover and interior.

Follows Industry Trends. An outdated interior design is a sure way to immediately convey to the reader that your content may be antiquated as well. A modern interior design that is indicative of your content and genre is always recommended.


Producing a finalized set of files that are printer-ready requires several rounds of editing. After the cover has been completed, the design team lays out the first few chapters of the book into a sample interior design, called a test layout. The design team and the author discuss any edits to be made before the team locks in the design. Then, it’s on to the full book layout.

Once the full manuscript is laid out according to the agreed-upon design, the author is given the opportunity for one final read-through for any final, minor changes. In-line changes to the text are accepted here, but major rewrites are highly discouraged (and sometimes impossible without re-laying out the book). Too many significant changes disrupts the design process, slows down production, and can cause reflow from page to page.

Once all final edits are incorporated and the files have been signed off on, the book is ready to go to the printer.


Interior Design In-Depth
Major design elements include font, font size, header selection, chapter openers, running footers, and other stylistic elements (if applicable) such as charts, graphs, and photos. Your publisher will likely provide you with their recommendations in each of these areas. An experienced design team will have experience working with all these elements, and come up with a design tailored to your book’s needs.





As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing, RealClear Publishing, and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal advises authors, thought leaders, and organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from experts in business and politics, and Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres. RealClear Publishing, a joint venture with RealClearPolitics, redefines the political book marketplace by magnifying the voices of senators, advocates, and analysts to shape the national conversation.


Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver. Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of
How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

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Go Big or Go Home! How The Power of Playing Offense Became the Go-To Comprehensive Leadership Playbook

We hear it all the time: “I want this book to be a short read. Something that can be consumed on a plane ride.” And a short read is sometimes the right answer. Sometimes. Paul Epstein’s new book The Power of Playing Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Personal and Team Transformation can also be finished on one plane ride—if a reader were on a flight from New York to Hong Kong. And in Paul’s case, a lengthier book was the right answer.

The book’s size was a natural extension of the concepts contained within the read. Unconventional length matched groundbreaking content as The Power of Playing Offense broke the mold in more ways than one.

Four hundred pages with charts, graphs, and visuals turned out to be crucial to the success of this particular book. For Paul to elaborate on his leadership wisdom gained from his nearly fifteen years of working for multiple NFL and NBA teams, a global sports agency, and the NFL league office, we found that a design-intensive interior was necessary. Though a graphic-heavy interior does equate to a lighter and airier read, it can lengthen the page count. Sometimes that trade-off isn’t worth it, and sometimes it is—it all depends on the content and context.

CEO of Zoom Eric Yuan provided the foreword, commenting that out of all leadership books out there, “[The Power of Playing Offense] easily rises to the top.” Paul’s authority on leadership and firsthand experience provided valuable tools for leaders to use, and we helped him speak to those people. As our work together moved from the editorial to the design phase, one thing quickly became clear: this wasn’t going to be a quick read. This wasn’t a CliffsNotes on leadership, but the go-to reference guide, encyclopedia, playbook, and manual. And we embraced that fact in every aspect of the project.


Our goals?
-Lean into the substance of Paul’s book
-Design an interior that takes Paul’s ideas from the page to the leadership playing field
-Embrace the book’s unconventional length and graphic-heavy through the marketing plan

Editorial: After Paul had submitted his manuscript to us and we collaborated with him on the editing, his manuscript was around 50,000 words, which we estimated to be a tidy 200 pages. All standard. But as soon as we entered design, we realized that was going to change.

Design: Design is a key element to keeping the reader engaged from cover to cover. Visuals help by pulling out key points and depicting them. In Paul’s case, that meant things like a football field-style diagram illustrating the Five Pillars of Playing Offense or a photo of the San Francisco 49ers’ home field. The visuals—crucial to illustrating many of Paul’s points—meant increasing the two hundred pages to four hundred. Though counterintuitive, this ultimately made his book lighter and easier to read.

Marketing: In our communications about the book, we don’t shy away from the fact that this is a lengthy title with phrases like “chock-full” and “more than 50 activities, tools, and strategies.” We want potential readers to know this is a one-stop shop for practical leadership guidance.


More about the book: playing offense instead of defense
Paul Epstein’s time in the business of professional sports allowed him to see first-hand the qualities of great leaders and not-so-great leaders. He experienced the proactive skills that created a flourishing culture and performance. He also saw the struggles of reactive leadership where the team leader is just trying to keep everyone’s head above water. The Power of Playing Offense is the result of his breadth of experience and maps out a guide to promoting your team’s success through offensive leadership.

So, what exactly is offensive leadership? It’s when a leader is in control of their team and the situation at hand. At the same time, they’re focused on seizing opportunities and meeting long-term goals. A broad scope of vision and a focus on achievement are hallmarks of the offensive leader. Defensive leaders are narrow-sighted in comparison, focusing on near-term challenges. They lack a focus on purpose and inspiration, and that lack of focus carries through in their management. So how do you avoid playing defense and set yourself up to play offense? Paul lays out a plan that, through individual and collective action, sets you up as the quarterback of your organization.


The Power of Playing Offense: A Leader’s Playbook for Personal and Team Transformation will be released on March 30, 2021.

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Case Study: The Roadmap to Becoming Crisis Ready®

Organizations that are Crisis Ready® are more than just resilient. They’re invincible.

Building an invincible brand in an uncertain world

Written by crisis management advisor as well as founder and CEO of the Crisis Ready Institute Melissa Agnes, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World provides organizations such as businesses, police, military, and universities the tools they need to build resilient brands. Being Crisis Ready® means if an organization is faced with a crisis, they come out of it stronger and even better than before.

What does this mean?

Modern-day organizations face a slew of potential risks: security breaches, economic hardship, PR disasters, and, most recently, global pandemics. In Crisis Ready, Agnes provides organizations with the roadmap for embedding a culture whereby every member of the team becomes adept at getting ahead of risk—be it a customer complaint straight through to a full-scale catastrophic crisis—in a way that transforms the risk into a brand-strengthening opportunity.

Crisis readiness is not the same as crisis management. Crisis management is what happens once the risk has materialized. The more Crisis Ready® an organization is, the less crisis management they are likely to have to do. When you’re Crisis Ready®, your organization can withstand hardships and unexpected emergencies because a Crisis Ready® brand is proactive, confident, and strategic.

Our goals?

  • Hand the mic to Agnes as a Crisis Ready® thought leader
  • Support her expertise with a powerful design
  • Create a quality, evergreen book that will help businesses for years to come

As a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, ministries of foreign affairs and defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, universities, and many others. In other words, she is an expert in crisis management across a diverse range of industries and is fully equipped to share her knowledge.

Agnes took the lead on her manuscript, and we utilized a writing coach to keep her on a timeline in coordination with the production calendar. She wrote, and we reviewed and edited. After 6 months, the manuscript was done.

The result? She created a compelling manuscript that provides readers with real-world examples of where organizations do well and where they fall short. This includes learning the tools to interact with stakeholders appropriately and having a measured plan of action to be Crisis Ready®.

Next, we needed a strong interior design to supplement Agnes’ expertise and streamline her findings. It was important to Agnes that the book be a multi-sensory experience. Our design team filled out the interior of the book with eye-catching 2-color graphs, diagrams, and most impressively, a gatefold insert that opens out to reveal a large chart with her teachings. It was a thoughtful journey to finding the perfect cover, fluctuating between thousands of ideas and outlines to create a meaningful, subtle approach. A simple yet powerful cover design tied it all together, conveying a sense of calmness and readiness in an uncertain world.

Two years later

Commended as “intelligent, intuitive, and unabashedly gutsy,” named by Forbes as a top ten business book in 2018, and named by Book Authority as a top three crisis management book of all time, Crisis Ready is the go-to book on the topic of crisis preparedness and crisis management, and has helped solidify Agnes as a leading expert in the field.

While Agnes is profitable with online and brick-and-mortar retail, she finds enormous success with bulk buys from corporations and businesses, who are looking to evolve their culture and become Crisis Ready® from the ground up. One of her greatest successes was with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. After supporting Chase’s small and medium-sized business clients through the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase bought 2,000 copies of the Crisis Ready® ebook to give away to their clients. We coordinated the logistics, and the deal was done.

Agnes frequently uses her book as a teaching and speaking tool on her podcast, vlog, and contributes articles to Forbes magazine. Crisis Ready is also part of the curriculum at Harvard University and dozens of other higher education schools globally. The book has gained Agnes professional speaking gigs and brought in more clients interested in retaining her Crisis Ready® expertise.

Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes’ ideas have become even more relevant and necessary. This new era has forced organizations everywhere to reevaluate how to communicate with clients effectively and collaborate with staff virtually. Ultimately, organizations need a strategic plan to come out alive on the other side. Agnes’ expertise is in high demand because there is no better time to be invincible.

Now that Agnes has solidified herself as a leading authority on crisis readiness, she has launched her latest initiative, the Crisis Ready Institute, a public benefit corporation with a powerful mission. By incorporating a culture of readiness in organizations and teaching them how to turn risk into opportunities for growth and connection, the Institute is on a mission to create a crisis resilient world.

The second edition of Crisis Ready is in the works and is scheduled to be released in 2021.

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