How to Self Publish Series
Spare a thought for the humble paragraph, the unappreciated middle-child of book structure. While authors lavish attention upon each sentence and fuss over chapter headings and cliff-hangers, the paragraph is often just an afterthought—a bite-sized chunk of text defined by line breaks.
A typical book has between 25,000 and 100,000 words, which of course is the feature of the book that readers interact with the most, spending hours poring over it. But when was the last time you read a book and thought “Wow, that ending blew me away and the font choice of 11pt Baskerville Old Face was a masterful touch!”
Imagine your book with no headings, no paragraph breaks and no formatting – just one long line of text, sentence after sentence with no place for a reader to pause and gather their thoughts. The narrative has become a forbidding and impenetrable jungle of text. There are no reference points for a reader to navigate by and they will quickly tune out to your message.
It’s often the small things that pull readers out of a story and one of the biggest culprits is sloppy, inconsistent formatting. Formatting should be invisible in a book – the hidden scaffolding that allows the reader to smoothly step into the narrative and become immersed in the writing.
Self Publishing Part 5: The Fiscal Art of Book Design (or people judge books by their covers – work with it!)
The long-term success of any publishing venture will always hinge on the quality of the writing, but without great packaging you are severely handicapping your book’s ability to sell in almost any channel you can think of. We are conditioned as consumers to make inferences about the quality of a product by the aesthetic promise of its design and wrapping. It’s a psychological loophole that marketers have been exploiting with every increasing precision.
The confluence of digital technologies such as online retail, eBooks, print-on-demand (POD), desktop publishing and social media has dramatically shifted the balance of book publishing around the world by giving authors access to the tools they need to affordably publish and market their books globally. These same technologies have also led to a virtual renaissance in vanity publishing by opening up more legitimate business models for what was once a marginalised (and sometimes fraudulent) backwater of the industry.
OK, so I recycled a throwaway metaphor from yesterday’s article in the title of this post but let’s not get too carried away extending it into any broader literary allusion – a professional editor can do wonderful things for your book but very rarely do they ask for a first-born son in return for their services. In fact, when you consider that your editor will most likely be the single most important contributor to your book (after yourself of course), the rates that they charge are extremely reasonable.
In my previous post I laid out my checklist for self published authors and top of the list was the quality of the writing. By publishing a book you are creating a product that must stand on its own in one of the most competitive markets on Earth. There are literally millions of books published in various formats around the world each year and if you hope to convince discerning readers to pay money for your work then you must make sure that the content of your book is up to a commercially acceptable standard*. A startling number of self published books are doomed to failure simply by virtue of going to print before they are ready and, no matter how good the salesman, if the product doesn’t meet expectations then it’s simply not going sell.
There’s a huge amount of speculation around the decline of traditional publishing now that digital printing, online retail, eBooks and digital marketing are allowing authors more opportunity to go it alone. While the fate of traditional publishing is a topic for another day, the fact is that more and more authors are now deciding to… Read More ›