Tag Archives: novella

Designing a book isn’t rocket science. Or is it?

Busybird Publishing has worked on around 300 titles over the past ten years or so. With each book, we learn a little more about what does and doesn’t work in terms of the book design and we often need to explain to authors that the setup of the internals needs more thought than just plonking it into a template. Of course it isn’t rocket science but there is a little bit of mathematics to it.

Most people only think about the cover but that’s only a part of the equation. There are several factors that need to be thought out, so here are four considerations when designing your book:

1. The physical size of the book
When a book is written, 95 percent of the time, it will be set up in Word on an A4 size page. This is pretty standard and the margins tend to have a default too. This is fine but when it comes to setting up the book into its printable version, there may be elements that don’t easily transfer to the desired format.

Let’s take a standard size to use as reference. The C Format is 234 x 153 mm. This is substantially smaller than A4. If you’ve been labouring over a pretty table with shading and styles that look gorgeous on the page, you are going to be disappointed when it goes into the template and the page cuts the table in half, or leaves only a couple of rows on the next page. Or you might have a graph that is wide and you reorientate the A4 page to fit it. This will mean that in the printed book, you will have to turn the book to read it and possible have it shrunk to fit.

If your document has a substantial number of graphs, tables, or images, you might want to think about the format you use to make it user friendly. A quick way to see how the pages are working is to convert your word document into an A5 page and get a visual idea of how everything is working. Remember too that margins are different in a book compared with a word document, so this needs to be considered.

2. Images
Colour printing is expensive and often not warranted unless you’re publishing a coffee table book or brightly coloured children’s picture book. For this reason, any images need to be converted to black and white (greyscale). Not all images look great once converted because they may be too dark, too dull or rely on colour to convey a message.

Orientation of images is also important. If you think of a regular book, it will usually be portrait orientation. This means that if your image is horizontal, it will not be able to fill the page unless you turn it on its side.

The biggest issue we have is the use of horizontal images for the cover. This usually involves a lot of cropping, which may diminish the value of the image. This can be disappointing if a particular image has been earmarked for the cover for some reason.

3. Fonts
Don’t underestimate the value of font choice. It brands the product into a particular category and changes the reading experience greatly. There is a temptation to use wild and cursive fonts (often hard to read) or a lot of different ones. Keep it simple please! (That goes for layout in general). Try to stick to two or three fonts at most and make sure the size is legible.

4. White space
Readers who read a lot understand white space. White space, or negative space, is anywhere that shows the colour of the page and is vital to the reading experience because it allows the eye to relax at points rather than being bombarded with information right through a book. A page that isn’t balanced with negative and positive space can appear cluttered or messy. Getting this balance right is good design.

For this reason, don’t be stingy on the width of your margins and if an image falls a particular way and there is some space under it before the end of the page, that’s okay.

A bit of thought and research into design will make the success of your book much more likely. Our next Publish for Profit Meetup will be covering these design elements in more detail, so drop by our studio if you’re nearby.
Blaise the book chick

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Love Your Library

Love Your Library: image by Kev Howlett (Eltham Library)

What is your relationship with the library? Do you have memories of the long ago dark days when you couldn’t talk and if you did you were scowled at by the librarian behind the desk, or worse, shushed?

How things have changed. Libraries are spectacular. At lease in Melbourne they are. Not only do they house thousands of yummy books but there are copious amounts of resources that you can use for free. Fabulous programs and offerings to whet your appetite for learning and entertainment.

Many libraries have done away with that giant desk that separated you and the librarian and have become wonderful modern spaces with computer areas and places for sitting in quiet contemplation.

Books are my passion, so it’s no surprise that libraries (and bookshops) fit with this obsession, but why am I writing about them?

Libraries should be part of your marketing mix when you publish your book. Have you even thought about them in this way? Library programs are full of author talks, writing festivals and programming around a huge variety of topics from mental health, digital technology, gardening and crafts.

If you go and visit, or go to your local library website, you’ll be able to see what their programs are like and if there is anything that might fit your book. Many of them follow standard public events like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Children’s Week, School Holiday programs.

The best thing that you can do is start forming relationships with libraries (and bookshops) in your local area. Make friends with the library staff. They are not obligated to promote your book or to buy it (library suppliers do that) but if they see that an event can be created around your book and that their patrons would enjoy it, they will be happy to help you. There’s no cost to you and quite often the event will be listed in their program.

This isn’t a ‘build it and they will come’ scenario but it’s a way of creating relationships within your community and building a reputation for yourself and your book. Once you have something set up in a program, you can then go and spruik in on social media, on your website and even the local paper. Any chance that you can get to be in front of people to tell them about your book, the better. There’s nothing better than word of mouth.

Here’s another reason to love your library. The staff know books! They are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to people’s reading habits and what is new on the market. They will also be able to tell you what kind of events attract a bigger crowd. Use this resource to help you find ways to get your book into reader’s hands.

When was the last time you entered a library? I dare you to visit one today!

If you’re struggling with your book marketing, come along to our Publish for Profit group each month.

Blaise the book chick

 

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