When purchasing a book generally the cover design is the first thing that draws a reader in. Within seconds they flip the book over and read the back cover copy which should include an author photo with a few lines of bio. Readers like to know about their authors.
A photo or head shot brings the author into the reality conversation when reading a book. Stephen King seems rather normal with his dark hair and beard. Yet his mind is a carnival of storylines leading into terror and entertainment. If you passed him at a grocery store, would you realize you were seeing the king of scare? Without his author photos, readers wouldn’t recognize him.
Granted, an author typically isn’t going to become an overnight celebrity but having a photo on the book resonates with your readers. Makes you more personable to your readers, not just a name. If placed on the back cover, the image can be in full color. Maybe your photo was taken at sunset, so the oranges and yellows of the evening sky would radiate around you. Maybe the color of your shirt matches the color of your eyes, why not put the author photo on the back cover. If located on the About the Author page inside the back of the book, typically the image would be grayscale, black and white for economical reasons.
Do you need to spend hundreds of dollars for a professional head shot? No, a simple well-taken photograph in high resolution will do. But if you haven’t gone to a photographer since your school days, you might want to look into having a session done. Not only is a professional shot good for your book but having copies made for family is a side treasure. Whichever you choose, you’ll want two digital copies of the image: One in high resolution for printing and another saved-for-the-web size you can upload to your website, Facebook or any online marketing.
Select your photo carefully, whether a portrait or outdoor shot. You may need to send copies of the image to various media and social media outlets during the marketing of your book. Be sure the photo is something you are very comfortable seeing over and over again.
When reading a book, the body style typeface or font is generally not something you notice right away. However, it has quite a bit to do with the readability of your book. You don’t want to curl up with a suspense novel and find you have a headache two chapters in from eye strain. No matter how thrilling the storyline, if the font style and leading is hard to read, you’re going to lose your audience. Our graphic designers here at Gorham Printing have years of experience in book design.
Take a book off your shelf (let’s stay with fiction) and open to any page. The body text is generally a serif font, meaning there are tiny feet at the bottom of most letters to help guide your eyes across the line of words. There are dozens of readable fonts such as Garamond, Minion, or Arno Pro used for text layout.
What you won’t find in any book industry standard layout is Times New Roman. What seems most difficult for self-publishing authors to realize is just because TNR is the default font for your word processing software does not mean it should be used for your book. Times New Roman was created for newspaper print, its narrow for typesetting in small columns.
The leading or spacing between the lines of text also helps with the ease of readability. The term leading is derived from the days of hot metal type when strips of lead were placed between lines of type to provide line spacing. Your text should not be single spaced nor double-spaced but somewhere in between. One rule of thumb is to make the leading 20% larger than the font size. So if you used a 12 pt font, your line spacing or leading should be around 14.4 pt.
Sans serif or decorative fonts can be used for chapter titles. However, when it comes to text layout, more is not better. Keep your styles down to two or three fonts only. Too many fonts and your book is going to look frenetic or too busy. Let’s say you used Garamond for the text body. You could use a smaller Garamond in small caps for the page headers and then a sans serif or decorative font for the chapter names. Or use a sans serif font for both the page headers and the chapter names.
Make your book look professional, as if it came from one of the big houses in New York. You’ve worked hard to finish the story, be sure it’s dressed out properly for your audience.
One of our favorite authors is Peter S. Fischer has written an incredible mystery series with Gorham Printing designing the covers and doing the page layout for the text. In a simulation of guest blogging, I will reprint this great notice from the website of Grove Point Press:
“The Unkindness of Strangers” wins
2013 Benjamin Franklin Award
The Grove Point Press is very proud to announce that “The Unkindness of Strangers” was honored Wednesday Night with the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award in the Mystery/Suspense Category. CEO Christopher Fischer attended the Awards and accepted on behalf of the company and Author Peter S. Fischer. “The Unkindness of Strangers” is Book Five in the critically acclaimed “The Hollywood Murder Mysteries” series created by Peter S. Fischer. Mr. Fischer is best known for his career in Television, which included writing and producing for such shows as “Columbo”, “Ellery Queen”, and two major Miniseries “Once an Eagle” and “Black Beauty”.
Fifth in the Hollywood Murder Mysteries
Mr. Fischers’ biggest success was the creation of “Murder, She Wrote”, for which he received two Golden Globes for Best Dramatic Series in 1984 and 1985. The character of Jessica Fletcher, played by the incomparable and beloved Angela Lansbury, was a major factor in the success of the show. It is still quite popular today in syndication and on such platforms as Netflix and others.
“The Hollywood Murder Mysteries” features his next great character in Studio Press Agent Joe Bernardi. The series starts in 1947 with “Jezebel in Blue Satin”. Each title in the series features the current film Joe is promoting. In Book Two, “We don’t Need no Stinking Badges”, Joe runs into murder and mayhem on the set of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” starring Humphrey Bogart. The Actors in the film have “Cameos” in the book, and it is great fun to relive the Glitz and Glamour of Hollywood in the 40′s and 50′s. In Book Three, “Love Has Nothing to do with it”, Jimmy Cagney is filming “White Heat”. If you like a good whodunit, and the Golden Age of Hollywood, you will love “The Hollywood Murder Mysteries”.