Book Design: BuJo for Writers No. 4

Book Design: BuJo for Writers No. 4


Styling a book gives me tons of pleasure. It’s a form of design that I never explored before. When I published the first edition of TIDES, I was happy with the result, but as I learned more, I realized that it could be done better. I found great pages online with tutorials on how to layout a book and now I feel proud at how the second edition looks.

I use my BuJo to keep track of the decisions I make on which fonts, sizes and alignment I use on my chapters. I add them to the Styles menu in Word to automate the process, but have it all in one overview. The cover measurements come in handy to remember how wide the spine needs to be.

I also write down the publishing date, ISBN number, how many pages the book has, the BISAC category and I make a list the tags I will use often.

A cost overview is also a very handy thing. Not only you can see how much it costs you to buy copies for yourself, but which price you set and how much royalty your book earns according to the market.

Another thing is that I make notes of the lessons learned:


  • I will need three files, two for the final (DOCX and PDF) and one for the naked final (DOC)
  • OTF fonts don’t embed in Word, if your book has them, you need to make a PDF of it
  • Clipart inside the book needs to be 300 DPI
  • Make sure to select the whole text and make it black


  • Transparencies get flattened or lost
  • Make all colors CMYK
  • Leave space at the back for the bar code

As I take on new projects, new notes will be added to my BuJo. What have you learned during your own publishing process?

This was the final entry of my Bullet Journaling for Writers, customize it to your own needs and success!


Editing: BuJo for Writers No. 3

Editing: BuJo for Writers No. 3

So you finished writing a story and are ready to make a manuscript to submit to publishing houses, or maybe you want to go the self-publishing path. Where to start and what to do? It’s overwhelming without a doubt. I have cried and gotten angry. Have asked myself why am I doing this? The simple answer is that I love to write, the more complicated one includes stuff like I have a mid-life crisis (not true), don’t have enough friends (definitely not true) and that I enjoy challenges and like taking up complicated projects (absolutely true).

20171113_095932I made a checklist in my BuJo that I use when editing a book. How many draft versions you end up with is up to you, but I have found I end up with about seven.

  1. 1. the original: grammar and spelling mistakes in all their glory2. macro edits: the moment to fix plot holes and refine your characters (and probably where Shawn became Sean – see post No. 1)3. line edits: the painful draft, the one where you have to read each line individually to see if it flows well, look for redundancies and consistency, and make your verbs stronger

    4. copy edit: this is the one where I recommend using a tool like ProWritingAid and having a grammar knowledgeable friend on call in case you doubt. My dear friend and fellow author Devin Harbison probably hates me by now, but loves me too much to tell it to my face. He has been a great help and has saved me tons of time (do you sit on a chair or in a chair?) by coming to my rescue on SnapChat.

    5. print proof: it is curious how you don’t see mistakes until you have the printed proof in your hands. I feel as if I’m stabbing my book with a red pen marking all the stuff I didn’t see in my Word file, such as a curly quote mark when I use straight ones all over the book, widow sentences at the end of a page, a weird space between two words, etc.

    6. final: your finished baby, ready to be shared with the world

    7. final naked: the same as final, but stripped of fancy styling and with added navigation marks for easy reading as e-book version

I also make notes on the look and feel for the cover of the book, but will talk about that in the next post.

Details and Timeline: BuJo for Writers No.2

Details and Timeline: BuJo for Writers No.2

In my previous post, we talked about how a little system in a bullet journal has helped me to keep track on the characters in a book. Another detail I find important to keep track of is all the locations that are mentioned in the storyline, especially if I made up a name. These can be town names, stores, restaurants, businesses, etc.

20171113_103812Food is another aspect that is important to me and my culture, and that is mentioned often throughout my books. My characters share meals when meeting new people, to celebrate something or to soothe their soul in a moment of sadness. Who knows, maybe one day I will collect them all and make a cookbook, but in the meantime, I have recorded them in my BuJo.

In the particular case of TIDES, a surfing competition takes place, and sponsors and brands are part of it. I didn’t want to go all deep into copyrighted names of real brands so I made up my own.

Music gives me the right mood when writing, but songs are also mentioned sometimes in the story. If you want to check out the playlist, you can check Tides in Spotify.

Finally, the timeline… a reviewer once complained that the characters in my story fall in love too quickly. While making the timeline, I realized that four months passed between the first chapter and the last. Some characters knew each other from before so it is plausible that they start a relationship along the way. Now I have proof!

What details would you like to keep track of in your own journal?

In the next post about bullet journaling for writers, we will talk about book editing and what I include in my checklist.

Characters: BuJo for Writers No.1

Characters: BuJo for Writers No.1

Nothing embarrasses me more as a writer than when a reader says: Sean? Wasn’t he called Shawn before?

My books have tons of characters with descriptions, occupations, and traits. When it comes to secondary and tertiary characters, I have a lot more. No wonder Shawn became Sean a few chapters further.

Recently, I learned about bullet journals and was simply impressed by the idea of having my agenda, checklists, planners and trackers in one condensed and convenient system. Then I thought, if this works for organizing my life, it sure works to organize the details of my books.

20171113_100005So I made a page for the characters from TIDES. I have seen very detailed spreadsheets online to make a whole profile of a character, but that wasn’t what I needed. I wanted an overview of the people with the details that I tend to forget (was Sean blond or did he have black hair? Wait, he’s called Shawn!).

So I called my system the HEA-ORT in which I record the:
(H)air color  /  (E)ye color  /  (A)ge
(R)omantic Relationship

For my secondary characters I kept it even more condensed, using only HEA-O. Then on the side, I made a list of every tertiary character without details.

It has helped my memory inmensely and will help you too. What do you think of this idea? What would you do differently?

In my next entry, we will talk about other book details worth recording.