Quality of Physical Elements of a Book

What type of quality of physical elements of a book should an indie publisher supply?

If you’ve been following along with this series of posts where we cover the top TEN questions you should as a publisher before signing, today we will cover the fourth question – what type of quality can I expect for my book? The quality of physical elements of a book can be a huge factor in how successfully your book sells so you will want to know the answers and even see examples of the following aspects of a beautiful quality publication. There is a lot to consider including some tried-and-true book publishing rules.

When deciding on which indie publisher to work with, be sure to look at a few samples of their published books and make sure you look at both the interior and exterior.

Book cover:  Often templates are used where all the basic elements are just swapped such as the cover image, the edited title, author name, and perhaps the color of the type. Look closely at their existing book cover designs and compare them to make sure your book cover will be unique. You do want your book to stand out as well as reflect the entire feel of your work.

Interior pages of a book: The interior design of a book is also very important and high-quality page make up (PMU) is something that professionals in the industry will certainly take notice of. Booksellers and book review companies alike will favor books that have been professionally designed with professional typography in mind. Many authors who are unfamiliar with what professional typography means could easily overlook this important aspect of showcasing your book.  I have seen many self-published books out there where a designer just pours in the text and doesn’t take the time to fix things like orphans and widows, stacked hyphens, loose lines, and floating page numbers, etc. I recommend asking what kind of professional typography check will be performed on your book.

A professional proofreader or proof-checker should be checking your pages after the designer lays out the pages, ensuring there are no copy outs (missing content), the design is correct and consistent, orphans and widows are minimized, including those stacked hyphens and other typographic no-no’s. When I see them in a book, I just cringe! And be assured that your readers, while they may not know why your pages are “off”, will certainly know something is not right.

If there is no proof-checking stage by a professional, just be aware that it will be up to you to look for these issues. Again, most authors simply do not know what to look for in good page make up. This includes choosing the right fonts for your book. San serif fonts should be used for headers and serif fonts for the main text. This is industry standard for book publishing and very different from fonts that are chosen for screen display.

You’ll also want to know who is actually printing your books. Ask to see some samples so you can feel the quality of the cover material, the thickness of the paper and the paper type. Do you have a choice of crème or white interior paper? Do you prefer a gGlossy or matte finish for the cover? If you want to publish a workbook with write-on-rules or a coloring book, make sure the paper is uncoated so that readers will be able to write or color on it. This is just one example of many of the options you should consider so having a professional in your corner can save lots of time, money and stress.

These are just a few of the physical elements of a book that need to be considered before publication. Finding and working with the right publisher can take so much of this off your shoulders, leaving you time to work on your next bestseller!

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