Posts Tagged With: publish

9 Ways to Make Your Self-Published Book Look More Professional

In my continuing attempts to promote and improve the self-publishing scene, today I present a handful of helpful tips you can use to make your self-published print book look more professional. These tips have been compiled via examining multiple traditionally published books and comparing them to the collection of self-published books I’ve acquired over the years. Read and enjoy!

Note: I’ve used my own book for all the examples below, as copyright law is confusing and I don’t want anyone to sue me.

#1: Formatting your page numbers

Step 1: Page numbers should begin on the first page of your story. This means Chapter 1. If you have a prologue, use Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, v, vi, etc.). Do not start page numbers on the very first page of the book (i.e. the title page).

page number 1Step 2: Page numbers should end once the story is over. You can obviously keep them going into the Acknowledgements, but no blank pages at the end with page numbers. Bad!

(Updated) Step 3: Page numbers can go at the bottom of the page or the top of the page. A random survey of my bookshelf indicates it’s about 50/50. I personally prefer numbers at the bottom of the page, centered, but this one seems to be dealer’s choice!

Step 4: Put enough space between the text and the page numbers. Otherwise the page will look squished, and pages don’t enjoy being squished. That’s how bloody revolutions start.

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#2: Paper choice (cream vs. white)

This is technically up to you, but cream paper really does look better than white for fiction books. White paper is for textbooks and picture books. Go with cream.

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#3: Book size

I’d suggest making your book between 5×8 inches and 6×9 inches for a fiction book. Anything bigger is kind of awkward to hold. Not to mention it doesn’t fit very nicely on your bookshelf with your other novels.

#4: Formatting your title page and front matter text

Step 1: Your title page should be eye-catching. None of this “same font and size as the paragraph text” nonsense.

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Step 2: Put the front matter text (i.e., copyright info, “please do not illegally distribute this work” info, publishing info, etc.) on the back of the title page (i.e., the left-hand side). The right-hand side page after the title is usually reserved for the dedication.

#5: Headers 

Step 1: Use headers. They look classy. You want the author name on one side, and the book title on the other side. And for heaven’s sake, make sure the header is centered.

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Step 2: But make sure you don’t have a header on the first page of a chapter! It makes it look cluttered. Clutter is evil.

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#6: Chapter titles

Step 1: Speaking of the first page of a chapter, make sure your chapter titles are eye-catching.

page number 9Step 2: Use small caps or drop caps on the first paragraph in a new chapter.

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#7: Formatting your text / paragraphs

Step 1: Don’t use Times New Roman or Arial. These are used in everything, and will make your book look generic.

Update: The important thing to note about Times New Roman and Arial is that they’re very easy to read. So make sure the font you pick is readable. Some good options include: Georgia, Cambria, Garamond, etc.

Step 2: Don’t underline. Use italics if you need to emphasize something.

Update: Some people don’t like italics used at all in writing as emphasis, and that’s personal choice. The point here is not to underline or bold your text, as it in general looks amateurish. Unless you’re writing something a bit off-beat, like a humor book or a book where your text is spaced out to look like a shark head. In which case, do whatever crazy formatting you want!

Step 3: Don’t put space between paragraphs. Instead, tweak the space between the lines of text to make sure it doesn’t look too squished. But for the love of chickens do not use double-line spacing. This makes it look like an essay, and that’s the absolute last association you want to make. 

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Step 4 (update): Always justify your paragraphs (as in, each line of text should reach from the left to the right side of the page). Left justification is fine for your Word doc, but it looks a bit sloppy to have uneven text edges once you get to your final published version.

#8: Cover design

Get a professional cover design. Seriously. Your readers, your sales stats, and your book itself will thank you.

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Note: My Paint skills are truly out of this world.

#9: When in doubt …

When in doubt about a particular bit of formatting, pick up a traditionally published book and flip through it. Heck, pick up a couple of books. If they all tend to do the same sort of thing, formatting-wise, then you should probably do the same.

This concludes my tips! Seriously, though, flip through some traditionally published books. You can get some really great formatting ideas from them. And obviously these aren’t hard and fast rules. But if you follow them, you will definitely have a more professional-looking novel than when you started. As always, if you’ve got questions, hit me with them in the comments section below.

Happy formatting!

Categories: Self Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

My Winter 2014 Publishing Game Plan

This is a big one, folks, so prepare yourselves!

After a great deal of research and herbal tea, I have roughly mapped out my publishing plans for the next few months. I haven’t worked out timelines yet, but I do have the steps more or less in order, so I thought I’d share them here. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions, as you in all likelihood know something I don’t. Thus, without further ado …

My Winter 2014 (and possibly Spring 2015) Publishing Game Plan

  1. Cover reveals for Imminent Danger and Chasing Nonconformity. As you may know, I’m going to split (at some point) from iUniverse and re-publish Imminent Danger via KDP and Createspace. The sequel is getting into the latter stages of editing now, and both books have beautiful new covers, so I’ll be hoping to get you lovely people to help me out with cover reveals in the next month or two.
  2. IndieGoGo Campaign. Okay, this is the big one that I’m really excited about. After that potato salad Kickstarter went viral, I thought to myself, “Self, you can totally run a crowdfunder for your book. It may fail miserably, but you can sure as heck try!” So sometime in the next few months (currently looking at ~December) I’m going to run a crowdfunder for Imminent Danger/Chasing Nonconformity! The concept is pretty simple — you donate a certain amount (to help me pay back the cover designer and assorted publishing-related expenses) and then in return you can choose from a whole bunch of perks. There will be the obvious ones, like eBook copies and signed print copies, but then there will also be some fun stuff (I’m thinking a swag bag with assorted Imminent Danger themed goodies). So if anyone’s run a crowdfunder before and has any tips, please share them!
  3. Re-publish Imminent Danger. Once the campaign’s over, time to re-publish Imminent Danger with its pretty new cover! I’ve also made some minor edits to the book (nothing massive structurally-speaking, just little tweaks to improve the flow of the book), so it might be worth checking out. (wink wink) Also, I’m planning for the IndieGoGo campaign that you automatically get an eBook copy of the new Imminent Danger regardless of how much you donate, so that should be an easy enough way to update your virtual library.
  4. Publish Chasing Nonconformity. No timeline yet on this, as the book’s still being edited, but we’re looking at Spring 2015 at the moment. Once the sequel gets published, I can obviously start sending out all the Chasing Nonconformity-related swag from the IndieGoGo campaign.
  5. Write the third book, tentatively titled Cerulean Bound. Spoiler alert!!! I’ve got the plot mostly worked out (well, the start and the end, at least, lol), so now it’s a matter of writing the darn thing. The first book took me 7 years from start to finish, and the second’s going to take 5, so hopefully we can cut this one down to a year or two.

That’s the plan! Questions and comments welcome and encouraged. Have a wonderful week!


Unrelated media of the day:

Categories: My Works | Tags: , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

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