The past six weeks we’ve been looking in depth at all of the steps that it takes to turn a manuscript into a polished, professional, finished copy of a book. As we’ve learned, this is a complex process full of choices such as whether or not to go with hard or soft cover, what cover illustration to use to draw in your readers, what information to include in your front and back matter, how will you format your text and your back cover, will you illustrate your piece, etc. etc. This process can be long and daunting, especially as a self-published author, which is why we at Outskirts Press want to assist our authors through it with our advice on this blog, but also with our hands-on services as a company.
I’d like to wrap up the last six weeks by evaluating what it is I think authors should take away from each in depth look we took at the different aspects of bringing a text to life. It seems critical to note that each of the choices you make while publishing all answer to a reader’s unconscious sensuous experience of picking up your book in a store. Each choice you make when formatting or designing the final copy of your book is something that a reader will be assessing from the minute they walk by it on the shelf, to the first time they pick it up in their hands, thumb through the pages, read the back, and decide whether or not to bring it to the counter to purchase it. This is really about first impressions, and we all know how important it is to make a good one when someone’s approval is important to us.
What is the first thing a potential reader will notice about your book when they walk by? Presumably if it is hard or soft cover. Do you need to go with a hard cover to look professional? Certainly not. In fact, it seems that the chance of selling your book in soft cover is much higher. The next thing to make an impression after someone has read your title and pulled the book of the shelf will most likely be the cover illustration. I feel I gave some entertaining examples of what not to do, but the best advice I feel I could give is again, use something that embodies your theme and draws in your target audience. Also, remember that less is more, don’t clutter the cover with unnecessary or flamboyant text or illustrations.
As far as formatting the interior of your book is concerned, remember that the status quo is usually the way to go here. You don’t necessarily want the formatting of your book to stick out, but to ‘fit in’ to what people expect to see when they open a book. That’s not to say that you don’t have some creative freedom when it comes to formatting the text and illustrations (the standards of which often vary from genre to genre), but going out on a whim with a bizarre font choice is not necessarily a wise idea either. Remember that you have creative liberty with which front and end matter you want to include, such as a personalized dedication, epigraph, acknowledgements, bio, etc.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, don’t forget how critical the back cover of your book is. With the 150-200 words you have to sell a reader your story, you get more space than let’s say…a Tweet, but not much more. Make it exciting without giving anything away.
Remember that these aren’t decisions you have to make alone. If you have questions beyond what has been provided in these blogs, don’t hesitate to contact one of our professional, knowledgeable representatives at Outskirts Press. Our experience as writers helps us guide new authors toward the best decisions. We will always put our authors first.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠