Fashion Your Book to Match the Others in Its Field

April 2002
by Dan Poynter

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As you survey the booths at BEA or the shelves in a bookstore, you will note that each genre or category has its own special look. For example, business books usually have hard covers and dust jackets. Books for professionals–such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants–are hardcover without dust jackets, as a rule. Children’s books are generally four-color with 32 pages and a relatively large trim size. Cookbooks tend to be wider than they are tall, so they will open and lie flat. Travel books are lightweight and slim, and they may have rounded corners to make them easy to slip into a pocket, purse, or pack.

Milt Strong writes and publishes books on square dancing. All his books measure about 4 _” x 8″. Strong explains that dancers want a tall, skinny book so that they can read the steps and then slip the book into a back pocket.

Your book must look like the others that will be on its shelf. It must have the same dimensions, type of cover, a commonly used typeface, and so on. Don’t break out of the mold on your first attempt. If your book is different, it will lose credibility. Potential buyers will think you’re an amateur and not ready to be a serious publisher. In book design, being different can encourage avoidance.

Give your buyers what they expect, want, and deserve, and you will sell more books!


Dan Poynter is the author of “The Self-Publishing Manual” and a past Vice-President of PMAIBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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