Good Book Design is Essential to a Memorable Memoir

There are many memoir authors who photocopy their typewritten manuscripts, or print them on their personal inkjet printers, or take them to their local copy center, and then staple them together for distribution. These have a tendency to become ragged-edged, torn, and misplaced over the years, mainly because they are not perceived to be of long-lasting value.

You will be better off pursuing the production of a book that looks like a book, either with a soft cover or a hard cover. This kind of a book will maintain a place of honor on a bookshelf or coffee table and is more likely to be shared with others as an important work that the author, family members, and friends are proud to own.

Print-on-demand (POD) companies (see short list below) using digital technologies will easily and affordably print your memoirs that have the look and feel of books produced by major publishing companies. Many POD providers will print as few as ten copies and some have minimums of twenty-five copies. POD services can include whatever you are willing to pay for. The least expensive is when you email to a POD company a manuscript that is ready to be printed. Costs go up when you engage the company to do layout, photo placement, cover design, proofreading and editing, as well as printing and binding.

One option is to hire a professional who will take your typewritten manuscript and lay it out to look like a book (see short list below.) You decide the chapter breaks and chapter headings and the layout person makes it look great. This becomes the layout you email to a POD. You can also do it yourself with Microsoft Word (see short list below.)

Some PODs have online templates for you to design your own front cover and back cover, again at an extra charge. Otherwise, you might be able to engage a local artist who is experienced at book cover designing.

The costs of using a POD are wide-ranging. A general guideline is from $10 per book to $35 per book depending on your choices of soft cover or hard cover, color or black and white, the number of copies printed, and the services you decide on. POD is far less expensive than printing and binding from your home printer or your local copy store.

When you go the POD route, you will have a treasured family heirloom you can be proud of and that will be kept and shared for a long time.

A short list of POD companies

Creative Continuum

Family Heritage Publishers

Family History Publishers


Modern Memoirs

My Canvas

No Waste Publishing

A short list of manuscript formatting services

Do-it-yourself: How to Lay Out a Book Manuscript in Microsoft Word

Compass Rose Horizons

Fern J. Hill

Integrative Ink

Kleine Editorial Services


Writer’s Relief, Inc.

Photo: An on-demand book printer at the Internet Archive headquarters in San Francisco, California. Printed pages land in this slot, where they are tapped into an even pile by pneumatically actuated tappers on the top, side, and edge of the page. Photo courtesy Dvortygirl.

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