Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, October 21, 2010:
My momma often said, “If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all.” This is especially true for your book, when doing it over will cost additional hard-earned dollars, if you don’t realize that what you say is important, but how you say it may sell the book.
DIY book publishing does not mean you should be in such a hurry to finally let your message be heard that you forget or neglect, to produce a polished, quality book in presentation, as well.
Once upon a time …
As little as a decade ago, we had time to roam aisle after aisle of our neighborhood bookstores, perusing not only titles and attractive covers, but discovering an ugly duckling hiding a graceful swan within its pages.
Not so anymore. We rush through the rows of bookstore tomes seeking only the title we found online, where we had clicked past page-after-page of books in a matter of a minute. Savvy readers are more conscious of the outward appearance and initial impact of your book than ever before – time is money –and they’re in a hurry.
If content is King, presentation is Queen – and we all know she’s the real brains behind the guy – she gets the job done (I say, with an impish smile and tongue firmly planted in cheek). Chances are good she’ll make the first book sale. Then it’s up to the Content King to hook them and reel them in for gift-giving copies and a purchase of your next book.
Some presentation elements may seem obvious to seasoned authors, or those who’ve done their due diligence. However, along with the proven items below, are also subtle key factors that often figure into the presentation equation:
L’s Seven Suggestions … for fastidious book formatting for powerful presentations
- Front cover, of course: watch trends – books are no less susceptible to fashion than your teenager; review current designer covers by perusing the best sellers’ lists in your genre. Discard the top 10, because they are generally trading on established authors’ name which dictates a different style; then evaluate the other 10+. What do they have in common? What is attractive to you?
- Back cover: barely less important than the front cover, it is not quite as susceptible to trends, although it is now common for the back cover to follow the same graphic design as the front – wrapped. Where you have flexibility is in the text/images. Again, review similar current genres; are they sporting the author’s bio, a list of testimonials, an intriguing excerpt?
- Front / back matter: an often neglected element, readers may not consciously grade your book on it, but instinctively know something is amiss if accepted practices are lacking.
- Readable font(s): less is more and cute is irritating. I discovered that recently when trying out fonts for my own book; while I love the Comic Sans style, in a whole book, it is difficult and tiring to read. Though I ultimately chose an uncommon font, its letters are clean, well-spaced without wasting space, and easy to read for long periods of time (Maiandra GD).
- Clean and attractive content formatting: if you’re in a DIY situation for formatting your book and find yourself without the technical skills necessary, either ensure your publisher will follow your lead and format for you, or hire a talented professional. This element, like the cover, should not be ignored, nor hastily prepared.
- Appropriate white space: again to the formatting – know how to space your lines for easy reading. (In Microsoft the “Paragraph/Spacing” commands are available for adjustment.) Even if your book is going into the eBook platform only, it’s still imperative to make it readable on a small screen – space works, though not too much, as shorter is better in eBooks.
- It’s a fact: typos and minor errors appear in virtually every book. Strive for absolute perfection in at least the first 20 pages; not that the rest of your book isn’t important, but by the time they stumble on an error later, you’ll have hooked them into overlooking it!
These are all major elements of a book that affect the 7 seconds or so your reader’s brain has to digest it. Use those precious seconds well.
Whether you must do-it-yourself to balance your budget, or simply prefer the control, remember, the more polished and professional your book appears, the more accepted and marketable it is. Happy selling!
Rock on … LinDee