The Book Beautiful: Formatting the Masterpiece

As you finish your manuscript and move toward the stage of publishing, the layout of the inside of your book (such as formatting, font choice, etc.) must come into serious consideration. The formatting of your book transforms your word document into a book, it brings your manuscript to life.

Now while many readers won’t spend much time musing over the careful ruminations that went into the formatting of a book, they will notice if that care hasn’t gone into your formatting. The formatting style you choose should not only reflect, but also enhance the overall feel and mood of your story. Even if the careful decisions you spend hours vacillating over are never consciously acknowledged by your reader, those decisions absolutely affect the reader’s subconscious perceptions and preconceptions of your book. For example, merely picking up a book and scanning through the pages will immediately tell a reader whether or not your book is professional, before they’ve even read a sentence. Among readers there is a certain unspoken, but expected standard for how a book should appear, thus, when a book falls short of that expectation it acts as a giant red flag that your title might not be worth purchasing. You want your book to ‘fit in’ with the other books on the shelf, you want it to look polished, legitimate, and professional.

open book formatting

Once you’ve caught the reader’s eye with a sleek, professional cover and they’ve started thumbing through the pages, something they will take subconscious note of is the font you’ve selected. Note that every time someone opens a word processor that Times New Roman is probably the pre-set font, meaning that if your book is in TNR, it won’t seem special or really pop before the reader’s eyes. There are thousands of appropriate fonts that will help your book stand out, so don’t be afraid to try something new; that being said, avoid over-the-top or childish looking fonts as well.

Further typography considerations to make are the number of characters per line, lines per page, spacing between words, etc. Think of those books you’ve read that have too many characters per line, the kind where you feel like the page or chapter is never ending. The satisfaction of turning pages and progressing to the next chapter is a thing a lot of readers enjoy–not to say you should have


… but tiny font with small spacing

isn’t great either. Find a happy middle ground. A further consideration, when there is little spacing between lines, the reader’s eye will often skip a line and they will then have to readjust and thus lose their engagement with your story. It’s a small detail, but it affects the reader’s experience which means that it’s not a trivial detail.

open book formatting

Another thing to consider: how far your text goes in toward the spine of the book. Paperback book readers know how frustrating it is when the text of the book they’re reading goes nearly all the way to the spine so they nearly have to crack it to see what you’ve written–don’t make your readers ruin your beautiful book!

The moral of the story is: don’t just settle for the bare minimum requirements of your publishing company. Treat the formatting process of the interior of your book with the same kind of tender love and care that you treated the writing and editing process with–your readers will notice, and you can rest confidently knowing that you’ve produced a well-thought out, professional book.

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  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

What Not to Do When Self-Publishing

There are a few things that separate successful self-publishing authors and could-have-been-successful self-published authors. If you want your book to succeed, avoid these common mistakes.

1. Formatting

There are specific requirements for properly formatting your book. Authors who try to do the formatting themselves may be disappointed with how their book turns out. To ensure your book is formatted properly, enlist the help of your self-publishing company. They will tell you exactly what to do and provide assistance to make sure the formatting is done right.

2. Front Cover

You may be tempted to save money by using a template cover. This can be very costly to your success. Despite the cliché “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” most readers do! You want a unique, professionally designed cover that captures the essence of your book and encourages readers to buy it.

3. Editing

Another area authors often try to save money is editing. They think that self-editing is the best option, but even the best writers can’t rely on self-editing. It’s just not possible to catch all of the mistakes and issues when you are so attached to the project. Always have a professional editor review your manuscript before publishing to ensure your book is the best it can be. Too many mistakes can be costly to your reputation as a professional author.

4. Back Cover

The back cover is just as important as the front cover! Do not rush through this step. The back cover helps hook the reader and plays a role in online search results. A professional copywriter and editor can help make your back cover copy great.

5. Time

Do not rush! I know self-publishing is exciting and I know it’s important to many authors to have their books published by a certain date, but successful authors know the importance of taking their time to do it right. Spend time revising your manuscript. Put a lot of thought into the title and cover art. Be patient enough to allow an editor to review your book. Spend time planning your marketing strategy. While I don’t want you to get so caught up in making everything perfect that you never finish your project, I don’t want you to rush the process and regret the quality of the book you produced.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing: 10 Things You Need to Know

If you are new to self-publishing, it can seem a little overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of great resources to help you decide if self-publishing is right for you and to answer all your questions on hot topics such as copyediting, copyrights, and book formatting. Below is a list of 10 must read articles for self-publishing authors. Each gives you helpful information to ensure you have a great self-publishing experience.

1. 4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Self-Publishing

Not only is self-publishing a huge trend among first time authors, but it is also becoming increasingly common for writers who previously used traditional publisher (and had great success) to switch to self-publishing. This article discusses the top four reasons why writers love self-publishing.

2. The Cost of Self-Publishing

The cost of self-publishing is a common question, and concern, for many writers. This article provides an honest look at the cost of publishing your book.

3. 5 Self-Publishing Mistakes You Can Avoid

Sometimes self-publishing gets a bad rep because of the amateur mistakes some authors make. This post will help you avoid those mistakes so you can be seen as a professional and your book can be taken seriously by readers and the publishing industry.

4. What is an ISBN?

This article explains what an ISBN is, if you need one, and how to get one.

5. Paperback vs. Hardcover: Which is Better?

This post discusses the pros and cons of paperback and hardcover books. It will help you decide which cover is best for your project.

6. Should You Create Your Own Cover?

A great book cover can significantly impact your book’s success. This article breaks down the pros and cons of creating your own book cover or hiring a graphic artist.

7. The Importance of a Compelling Back Cover Synopsis

The back cover of your book is also important. This article explains the importance of a compelling back cover synopsis and provides tips on creating one.

8. Copyediting 101

This article explains how copyediting is different from proofreading and why it is a good idea to consider hiring a professional copyeditor.

9. Top 7 Book Formatting Questions for Self Publishing Authors

One of the most popular topics I receive questions on is book formatting. This article tells you what you need to know.

10. Top 6 Self-Publishing Copyright Questions

Copyright is another hot topic among authors. This great article answers the most common questions, such as what is the fair use law and how do I know if something is copyright protected.

I’d love to know, what other questions do you have about self-publishing?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at