• Briony Hartley

Book design: Speak Your Truth

Fearne Cotton's, Speak Your Truth, is published today, and I was thrilled to do the book design for this during lockdown last summer. An almighty positive which came out of a terrible year, let it inspire us all to stand tall, look the new year right in the eye and resolve to speak our truth.



I think we can agree that 2020 was an annus horriblis (and 2021 hasn’t started well!), but amongst the stress and worry there have been a few unexpected positives. As a book designer, I have been pleased to learn that people have been reading more books, which has been great for the publishing industry. I have had several new books to design, many of which have been written during lockdown as authors suddenly had time to get pen to paper at last. During months of being ordered to ‘stay at home, save lives, protect the NHS’, celebrity authors, just like the rest of us, were dealing with the challenges of full-time parenting, home schooling and worries about the pandemic, so I feel great respect for anyone who has managed to write a book during all this. Book design for Fearne Cotton

Fearne Cotton wrote Speak Your Truth at this time, and it is the second of her books which I have worked on. It was such a thrill for me to receive her new manuscript and to be one of the first few people in the world to read her latest work before it is packaged and presented to the public in book form. This book, in particular, really resonated with me. Fearne talks very honestly about her life, mental health struggles and how not expressing herself had caused physical throat problems which could have needed a two-week silence or throat surgery to repair. I had this exact problem myself a year ago, and undertook my own 48-hour silence to help repair my vocal cords. It was so interesting to read her take on things and I found myself nodding along in agreement. We do indeed need to be brave, be honest and speak our truth without fear of judgement. What does a book designer do? The book designer is an invisible link between author and reader. When I design books, my role is to create a visual style for the pages which reflects the voice of the celebrity and content of the text, echoes the cover, appeals to the audience, is legible and accessible. On a more practical level, the book designer fits the text into the number of pages and book size budgeted for by the publisher. Laying out a book is like doing a jigsaw puzzle that spans over 200 pages. A book designer may do the front cover design, page design or both.


Book design: what I did

For this book, I was commissioned to create the page design and typeset all 256 of them. The text is uncomplicated with a simple visual hierarchy of chapter heading, sub headings and some boxes. Keeping the book page design clean, simple and very readable, we used Futura (to match the front cover) for headings and Clavo for the main text. Tiny stars were used as bullet points and added to the corners of box frames to add a twinkle of character.


I know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into writing, and it always feels like such an honour to be the person shaping an author's text, presenting the work clean and beautiful, ready for its’ audience. A huge amount of effort goes into book publishing, by the author, publisher, art director, editor, designer, proof-reader, sales teams... and every publication day feels like a triumph.


‘This is, simply put, a beautiful book.' Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic



If you'd like to discuss a book design project, contact Briony on 07989 949646 or email briony@goldustdesign.co.uk


Speak Your Truth by Fearne Cotton, published by Orion Spring

Let’s talk

Do you have a project you would like to talk to us about?

Briony Hartley  

07989 949646  

briony@goldustdesign.co.uk

Bournemouth,

Dorset BH6

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