Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

3 critical design ideas to make your book interior look great

If you search, you can find lots of information on how to design a killer book cover. In fact, I have written a number of blog posts on the topic.

Six tips from wicked good book cover designers

How to make your book cover attract readers: A conversation with book designer Adam Hall

While your cover is certainly vital, you do not want to neglect the importance of the interior of your book. As one writer put it, “It’s your cover’s job to flag down readers, but it’s the interior’s job to put on a show.”

So what should you keep in mind as you design the interior pages of your book.

Make it readable

While it is tempting to get “creative” with your type face and try to be different for the sake of “standing out”, the most important thing to remember is your book must be readable. Readability depends on a number of factors.

The Oscilating Brain by Timothy Sheehan M D title page

A clear title page is a good start for any book.

First is the font style used for the body text. There are many good options, including popular fonts such as Garamond, Caslon, Electra, Palatino, Fornier, ITC New Baskerville, Bembo, Futura, Myriad, and Helvetica. The main font used in a printed book is typically a serif font. However, san serif fonts are easier to read on a screen so they may be preferred for e-books. Serif fonts have little ‘serifs’, or feet, at the ends of the letters and san serifs do not.

Another factor in the readability of the text is the font size. A typical novel uses a ten to twelve point font, depending on the font style, genre, book length, and audience. You may choose a larger font if your book is targeted at an older or a very young generation. Line spacing, or ‘leading’ as it’s called in the design world, impacts readability too. Generally books are spaced slightly more than single spacing, about 120–125 percent of the font size. For example, a twelve point font would have a line spacing of about fourteen or fifteen points.

“It’s your cover’s job to flag down readers, but it’s the interior’s job to put on a show.”

A third factor that affects readability is the presence or absence of white space on the page. The margins (the white space that exists between the text block and the edge of the page) vary from book to book. Reducing the margin size condenses the book to fewer pages, but it can also make the book feel more claustrophobic and difficult to read.

I always recommend you start to collect sample pages of books that have very readable designs to use as a guide when designing the interior pages of your book.

Be consistent

Another key element that makes a great book design is consistency. From chapter starts to dashes and ellipses, maintaining a consistent style throughout the book helps the reader flow through the book more easily. Remember the design is not to draw attention to itself, but rather help the reader move through the book. When there are jarring, out-of-left field design elements introduced on the pages of the book, it can actually interrupt the reader’s enjoyment of the story.

Follow industry standards

Creating a professional book layout takes more than simply throwing a title page and some page numbers on your manuscript. There is an order to things that tell readers this is a professionally designed book. Even more important there are certain standards that readers, book buyers, retailers, and librarians expect in a professional book.

Chapter start

An interesting opening page can draw readers into the story.

The inside of your book is divided into three main sections: the front matter, text, and back matter. Front matter introduces your book to your readers. Appearing before the main text, front matter is comprised of pages that include information about the book, about you, and about the publisher. Next is the text, which is the main narrative that makes up the meat of the book. The back matter falls after the main text and includes any supportive material to the text, such as the glossary and index. Let’s look at each of these individually.

Front matter

The front matter is found before the main text of the book and may include the following sections. Your book should at minimum include a copyright page and title page.

Half title page: The half title page is the first page of your book and contains only your title. This page does not include a byline or subtitle.

Series title page: Use the second page of your book to list any of your previously published books by title. It is customary to list the books chronologically from first to most recently published. Listing the title only is standard, but in nonfiction works, you may also list the subtitle if you feel it is essential. A common way to begin this page is, “Also by [author’s name]…” For authors who do not have previously published works, this page may be left blank or feature a frontispiece, which is a decorative illustration that is opposite the title page.

Title page: The title page is the part of your book that displays your full book title, subtitle, author, and any co-writer or translator. The publisher’s logo is featured on this page as well.

Copyright page: The copyright page contains the copyright notice, which consists of the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner. Depending on your publishing path, the copyright owner may be the author, an organization or corporation, or your publisher. This page also lists the book’s ISBN, and if applicable, the book’s publishing history, permissions, and disclaimers.

Table of contents: A table of contents lists the chapters, pertinent front and back matter, and the corresponding page on which these sections can be found. Typically, only nonfiction books require a table of contents. Additionally, all e-books must include a table of contents regardless of the genre.

List of illustrations: If your book includes several key illustrations that provide information or enhance the text in some way, you may need an illustrations page. However, if the illustrations are simply for comic relief or visual aid, the listing may not be necessary.

List of tables: Similar to the illustration listing, this page provides you with the opportunity to list any important tables and the page on which they can be found.

Foreword: The foreword contains a statement about the book and is written by someone other than the author who is an expert or is widely known in the field of the book’s topic. It is most commonly found in nonfiction works.

Preface: The preface usually describes why you wrote the book, your research methods and perhaps some acknowledgments if they have not been included in a separate section. It may also establish your qualifications and expertise as an authority in the field in which you’re writing. Again, a preface is far more common in nonfiction titles.

Acknowledgments (if not part of the preface): An acknowledgments page includes your notes of appreciation to people who provided you with support or help during the writing process or in your writing career in general. This section may also include any credits for illustrations or excerpts if not included on the copyright page. If the information is lengthy, you may choose to put the section in the back of the book, as the first section in the back matter.

Creating a professional book layout takes more than simply throwing a title page and some page numbers on your manuscript.

Body Text

Within the pages of books, you commonly find elements such as page numbers, running heads, and chapter-start pages. Here are some of the standards related to these standard design elements.

Page numbers

Unless you are publishing a very short children’s book, it’s essential to include page numbers. E-books do not require page number since the idea of a “page” isn’t static from one e-reader to the next device. Page numbers are most commonly found at the top of the page on the outer right or left corner, but can also be found at the bottom of a page.

Running heads

Many nonfiction books include running heads, which is the text at the top of pages that identifies the author, the book title, the section, or the chapter. Novels rarely use running heads unless there is some helpful purpose to the reader. There is some leeway in how the running heads are used, so there are many combinations of what the running head features. Some examples are: part title, chapter title; chapter number, chapter title; and chapter title, subhead.

Chapter starts and subheadings

The treatment of your chapter starts is a chance for your book design to be more expressive. While the font of your main text should be highly legible as its top priority, the chapter starts can be a bit more creative. It is common to see chapters that start on a new page from where the previous chapter left off, and the chapter starts one-third to halfway down the page.

Nonfiction books also use subheadings to further divide chapters. While the chapter starts can be more stylized, the subheads should be rather straightforward, although they can play a complementary role to the font used in the main text. 

Back Matter

The back matter of your book includes sections that support the main text but are outside of the main narrative.

Appendix or Addendum: An appendix includes any data that clarifies the text for the reader but would have disrupted the flow of the main text had it been included. It could also include information that was gathered too late to be included in the main body of the text. Some items included in the appendix could be a list of references, tables, reports, background research, and sources, if not extensive enough to be included in a separate section.

Notes: The endnotes section allows you to amplify or document certain passages throughout the main text. Endnotes are typically divided by chapter.

Glossary: A glossary comprises alphabetically arranged words and their definitions. Many nonfiction books include a glossary if terminology is used that is not generally known to the average reader.

Bibliography or reference list: The bibliography section, typically used in works of nonfiction, lists the sources for works used in the book. For samples and guidelines on proper layout, refer to the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition.

Index: The index is an alphabetically ordered list of words and terms used for referencing your text. Indexes are important pieces to a nonfiction book.

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

4 takeaways from BEA (Book Expo America) that authors should know about.

Last week I attended the premier industry tradeshow, Book Expo America, also affectionately known as BEA. Here were some of my observations.

Book Expo America show floor

Lots of activity on the Book Expo America show floor (Book Expo America)

The death of publishing is greatly exaggerated.

While publishing has gone through significant changes the past year, the floor was still filled with lots of new books and authors. Then on the weekend, the doors were open to readers and the floor was filled with lots of eager fans ready to meet some of their literary stars.

Publishing is still a place for start-ups.

One of the more interesting sections for the trade show floor was dedicated to start-ups focused on the publishing industry. I did not get a chance to walk all the booths in Start-Up Alley, but judging by the amount of space they occupied, there were a number of new ideas trying to gain traction. Time will tell but it was encouraging to see investment in new ideas for readers and authors.

Using social media for discovery is a big topic.

As expected a hot topic was how to use social to promote discoverability. One of the most interesting new entrants is Bookgrabbr. According to their site, BookGrabbr is an App and web-based technology product designed to expand the brand and media platform of any author by creating and increasing visibility in the book community and securing new readers and customers for those authors’ books.

Smiling Archway authors packed the booth at BEA.

Smiling Archway authors packed the booth at BEA. One author even wore a Superman cape.

Archway Publishing authors were extremely happy.

At the end of the show, Archway Publishing hosted a reception for authors. As usual, the authors who attend BEA and the event, loved it. I heard two words consistently, “overwhelming and exciting”. That is how authors felt about the time at the Expo and at the reception. It is always a great way to close out the day.

Author Solutions, authors, Ebooks, Editing, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Mistakes spell check would miss, but a good editor will catch.

One of the most important things self-published authors can do is have their book edited by an experienced professional. Spell check does not count as editing despite what some first time authors may think. Let me just give you a few examples of mistakes in the following sentences that spell check would miss.

  1. I did not here the gate change for my flight; so I did not get there bags on the plane.
  2. Once I realized I needed to move myself foreword: I had the angel I needed to see what I needed to sea.
  3. He was so surprised. He looked like a dear in the headlights.

See if you can find them all and post your answers in the comment section.

In a few days, I will post the answers.

Author Solutions, AuthorHouse, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

What types of memoirs do traditional publishers look to publish?

memoirsOne of the many changes that has come about because of self publishing is an increase in the number of memoirs that are written and published every year. The motivation for writing varies. Some want to capture their own story to leave as a personal legacy. Some want to share their experiences because they think it will help others. Still others have it on their bucket list and want to make sure it gets crossed off. Regardless of the reason why they are written, memoir is one the most significant categories of books that are self published as compared with traditional publishing.

Yet, there are many memoir authors that still aspire to be picked up by traditional publishing house. An admirable goal, but a difficult one because many memoirs are not as commercially viable as say a YA fiction book. However, that does not mean traditional publishers will never acquire a memoir. The criterion for what they look for is very clear. I say that because I asked a number of agents and editors what they look for in a memoir before they would consider it. Here’s what they said.

….memoir is one the most significant categories of books that are self-published.

Celebrity Appeal: This one is kind of obvious, but it needs to be on the list. If a person is noteworthy in some way, it may garner some interest from a traditional publisher, but this is not something you can control. Being famous or well-known isn’t usually a planned activity.

Teaching Material: Some life stories can instruct or inspire others so another way to get the attention of a traditional publisher is make your memoir something we can all learn from.

A Compelling Tale: Some people have simply lived a life that reads like a good fiction novel or seems almost like a movie. It has the typical elements of a good story. A good example of this type of memoir is the Pursuit of Happiness

One other helpful piece of advice: One of the panels I sat on included a very seasoned agent who had also worked as an editor for a traditional publisher. She suggested some memoirs can be made more commercially appealing by simply pulling out a section of the story instead of telling everything. Some authors are hesitant to do that because it is their story and they want it told in whole, not part.

Do you have a memoir in process or have you published one already. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, Ebooks, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing

Can a video help your book be discovered by more readers?

In a recent issue of Publishing Perspectives, Gabriel Pena i Ballesté, the CEO, wrote an article, titled, The book trailers: The best plan to connect books and readers. His main premise is video is a great way to help with discoverability. Given we are a media and image driven culture, I tend to agree.

Pena is CEO of company focused on creating book trailers, so he clearly has a bias, but he offered some helpful things to keep in mind as you think about creating a book trailer. I have taken some of his advice and added some of my thoughts to help you as you develop video content to promote your book.

  1. Be clear on the goal of your book trailer before you begin.  Are you creating a teaser? Are you creating a campaign? Are you trying to establish your credibility as an author? If you are not clear on what you want to accomplish with your video, chances are the video will not be as powerful.
  2. Keep it short. We have media ADD as a culture so it is important you make your point as quickly as possible.
  3. Have some distribution channels in mind. If you create a video, but are not sure where you will post it or how you will drive traffic to see it, you may be wasting your time.  Start with your own blog as the first place to post and then anywhere your book is for sale online.
  4. Don’t think a video is a substitute for reviews and recommendations. A video is a great promotional tool, but you should still pursue reviews and endorsements from others. It will only make your promotional plan that much stronger.

In short, a book trailer should be part of your marketing plan, because it can help with discoverability, but you should keep these four points in mind as you create the video. In addition, I have provided some examples of videos promoting books that may inspire you. Enjoy

Author Solutions, authors, book marketing, book selling, Ebooks, Editing, self publishing, writing

5 trends every author should watch as self-publishing evolves

Recently, I was asked what I believed to be the next big trends or issues around self publishing.  As I thought about it and shared my ideas, I thought it might also make a good blog post. See if you agree with my thinking and share your ideas in the comment section.

Editing is finally being recognized as essential by self-published authors.

This  seems like a “duh” statement,  but early on many self-published authors didn’t understand how critical editing was and so many books were not that good. All that has changed and most authors now work hard to find the right editor for their work.

Subscription models are cropping up everywhere. Authors have to figure out how to play. 

It seems like every week, there is an announcement about someone offering a subscription model for e-books. (See Scribd) It really isn’t that surprising when you see what happened in music. Books are simply following in the same path as the previous indie revolutions. The difference between music and books is you can sell individual songs from an album.  Not sure anyone would pay for individual chapters so how will authors participate?

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local stores like Books&books in south Florida are welcoming self published authors.

Local independent bookstores are finally embracing and welcoming authors because they can create store traffic.

It wasn’t that long ago that bookstores would turn away any author who self published, but now bookstores are recognizing that a local author with a good book can drive traffic to the store.  So instead of rejecting them, they are welcoming them. That is unless you publish with Createspace. Most stores won’t accept those books because they believe Amazon has greatly undermined the retail market.

Hollywood is looking at self-published books more than ever for source material. 

A few years ago, I could not get any one in Hollywood to talk to me, if they were on fire and I had a bucket of water. But now the whole entertainment industry is looking for new ideas to feed the multitude of cable and subscription channels. And self-published books are a great source of new material. That is why we created The Hollywood Pitch database and the Book-to-Screen Pitchfest.

99 cents used to be a way to differentiate, but now every one is doing it so authors have to find new ways to use price.

Low price is always a purchase incentive and early on, many authors used a 99 cent price to build readership. Now it is a strategy that many authors employ so what will the next creative pricing strategy be to stand out from the crowd?  Time will tell.

authors, book selling, Ebooks, self publishing

Libraries are selling e-books. What impact will that have on retailers and libraries?

WSJ logoIn the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal, an article ran under the headline Libraries Check Out E-Sales. Subscribers to the Journal can view the complete article on-line, but if you haven’t had a chance to read the piece, I wanted to call your attention to it because I think it signals another significant shift in the publishing industry.

The lines used to be very clear. Libraries lent books. Bookstores sold books. Then with the advent of online retailers like Amazon, bookstores were no longer the only place to buy books, but the mission of libraries remained intact. They lent books.

According to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

With this recent development, the lines are blurring once again and I think this is a trend we need to watch. Here are some of the highlights from the article.

  • Roughly 13% of public libraries across the U.S. give patrons the choice to purchase e-books on their websites if a free copy isn’t immediately available, according to OverDrive, an e-book distributor.
  • Library officials said their primary motive was patron convenience; so far, book sales haven’t generated much money for libraries.
  • Offering e-books for sale could also help libraries woo publishers who have been reluctant to make e-books available to libraries for fear it would harm retail sales, according to Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association.
  • The Queens Library expects by the end of June to begin selling print books, e-books and other materials through the book distributor Baker & Taylor, which handles sales for about 60 public libraries.
  • Book sales through libraries so far have been low. More than 35,000 e-book titles supplied by OverDrive are available in the catalog of the New York Public Library. Since February 2012, the library has made less than $1,000 from sales.

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

    Libraries are selling e-books and prints books. What impact do you think this will have?

While the dollars and units are not significant yet, one other key point made in the article was that according to a 2013 Library Journal study, 54% of regular library users had bought a book by an author they first discovered at their library.

So now if you go to the library to look for a book and they don’t have it, instead of putting it on reserve and waiting, you can just buy it. Time will tell what the impact will be on retailers and libraries, but once again the indie revolution makes things better for readers to get content and for authors to get discovered.

What do you think? Will this trend develop into something significant or will it have no real impact? Is this good for readers and libraries or does it confuse the mission and roles. Use the comment section to let me know what you think.  I personally find this quite fascinating.