Hire a pro to do it. You’re not likely to learn any of them in a short period of time.
If you must do it yourself, InDesign is the best of the Adobe programs for this; I don't know Scribbus at all, so I can't compare the two programs.
Since you have a tight deadline, you would most likely be better off this time hiring someone who already has experience doing this kind of work. These programs are complex, and take some time to properly learn. If you have never done layout design before, you will have a hard time getting right on the first try.
Good advice (see below)
Yes, I see your point of view. So, my idea was to lay out the elements in a basic way and hire someone to make it conform to certain standards. Is it reasonable for me to layout out in a basic way and then have someone else fine-tune it?
Is it reasonable for me to layout out in a basic way and then have someone else fine-tune it?
Don't do that. Please don't. You will wind up having to pay more for the designer to straighten out your file than it would have cost for you to give them the text in a Word file, and the images on a disc.
When I layout a book, I set up all the styles and master pages before even staring the layout. If I received a file that was done without these processes, it would make my job harder, not easier.
The thing is, I want to design how the book looks. How would I design it and then let the paid person layout everything according to my design?
You could provide sketches.
Talk to your designer, draw out sample pages, and talk together about font and size choices before the InDesign work begins. Have your designer send you a sample page before starting the others. Be be open to your designer's suggestions. Remember that you are hiring someone with expertise in design, not just a mouse-driver.
There is more to 'making a book' than having a simple interface. InDesign is designed for professionals, to be used by professionals, in the graphics industry.
You seem to have a general idea about the design, but here are some technical catchphrases you need to know more of as well:
* image types
* bitmap resolution
* color separation
* page size
* bleed and slug
Apart from this, a well-versed designer can advise you on fonts, sizes, leading, spacing, and general page layout with respect to page size, margins, and image placement, as well as taking a ton of work out of your hands for cross references or a table of contents. If not all of your work is going to need full color printing, he can advise you on which pages may have color "for free" (if printed on a press) and which pages in color cost substantially more than others (if one appears on its own on a folded sheet).
Our office's usual way is to talk with the client, and show lots of examples of our previous work. He is then free to pick and match samples, from which we construct one or two complete chapters for a general overview. After approval of the page setup, general layout, and typographic styling, we do the layout for the entire book, usually inserting all images in full color. Then one or more rounds of text or minor figure/table placement corrections follow -- at that point we assume the client is satisfied with the chosen font and font size, because if that has to be changed, we'll have to re-do a huge part of the per-page work.
When done, an estimate for printing is calculated and we discuss with the client which images must stay in full color, and which ones may be printed in grayscale. This may involve shifting images from one page to another to find the best combination. Only after this, we send everything off to the presses and sit back, enjoying a cup of joe.
While the layout for the inner work is in progress, we also design a cover -- either based on one or more images or an idea or sketch the client supplies, or (our favourite!) "per our own expertise". We may alter tiny details in either the cover or in the interior to match them together.
Only when the interior is fully done, we can calculate the exact spine width. This may need minor adjustments of design elements that make use of, or cross over, the spine! Again, after a final approval, we send it off for a proof print or final printing.
Another aspect - are you producing your book just for friends and family? If so, you will probably be better using one of the online photobook companies. Many have easy-to-use templates and offer reasonable prices for small printing quantities. Commercial publishing is another whole ball game. Probably best not to go there unless your pictures are truly extraordinary!
Your best bet is to compile all your text and images into a Word doc - don't do 2 column layouts, don't do anything fancy, just have linear text, and clearly mark the difference between Chapter, Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 by using much large sizes and different colours to easily identify which is which.
Use bold, italics, but don't use underline (that's an old typewriter method for highlighting words which is replaced with bold, italic or bold italic).
Be consistent in your writing.
Be concise on image placement (using correct filenames)
Be concise on image names and captions.
Supply both the Word File and all the Pictures.
If you require diagrams then roughly sketch the diagram so it can be redrawn.
Proof the copy until you're 99% happy with it.
If you need changes to the copy don't email the designer every hour with a change. Work out a deadline where you'll send changes in bulk.
Learn how to use PDF Annotations (it's great for a marking up the design with your changes).
Most importantly, before you do any of that, talk with a printing company that have an in-house designer and work with them on final size, finishing, deadlines (being realistic), turnaround times etc.