A Nod to Smashwords.com
Most of the books we publish are offered as e-books through Smashwords.com in a variety of e-book formats and through Amazon.com as Kindle e-books. What makes this possible for us is Smashwords’ manual, The Smashwords Style Guide, written by Mark Coker, the genius behind Smashwords. The guide can be downloaded from the smashwords.com site.
The guide is written in simple language and is easy to follow with diagrams and pictures in the difficult areas. The Table of Contents begins with an introduction on how to get started and frequently asked questions then continues on to Formatting, which has 22 steps. Steps 22 through 28 discuss Post-Formatting including a Book Marketing Guide, and helpful resources.
Another bonus is that once your book is formatted for Smashwords, you can rewrite the copyright page and upload it at Amazon.com as a kindle e-book.
Thank you, Mark Coker and Smashwords.com.
The Importance of Titles and Title Placement
I’m Chair of the Bookstore Committee at my church, and I’ve seen my share of bad titles, especially in nonfiction. For instance, how would you get somebody to buy a book called Reclaiming Prophetic Witness? What does that mean? Actually, it’s a short and interesting book about challenging religious progressives to reflect on how their values can help create a more just, equitable, and peaceful world. I’m sorry the title gets in the way.
For nonfiction books, the title has to tell the browser in just a two-second glance what the book is about and how it will help the reader. That’s why I think the title of my husband’s book, Teenagers & Parents: 12 Steps to a Better Relationship has helped keep this book selling through five printings. It also helped him sell translation rights to publishers in seven other countries. It offers a clear benefit statement to parents in over their heads with their teens.
Here’s a tip about cover design. Keep the title in the upper third of the cover unless the author is the important selling point, then have the author’s name up top. This is because if the book is laid out on a table or on a rack, books may be placed on top or in front of your book in a staggered arrangement that leaves only the top of the cover exposed.
Even professional cover designers may place your title in the lower half of the cover. My designer did that for my book The 90s Club & the Secret of the Old Clock. I allowed it, though, because I loved her design. I am aware of the problem, however.
Speaking of book design, some years ago, I talked with a man who had self-published a helpful guide for teenagers. It was full of useful advice, but it had been made unreadable by printing the entire text in all capital letters. He insisted that teens liked it that way because then their parents wouldn’t read it. I don’t think the teens did either. The amateur might think that using all capital letters for text would make it more readable because all the letters would be larger, but try reading a paragraph of text in all caps. In fact, below is this paragraph in all caps. What do you think?
SPEAKING OF BOOK DESIGN, SOME YEARS AGO, I TALKED WITH A MAN WHO HAD SELF-PUBLISHED A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR TEENAGERS. IT WAS FULL OF USEFUL ADVICE, BUT IT HAD BEEN MADE UNREADABLE BY PRINTING THE ENTIRE TEXT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. HE INSISTED THAT TEENS LIKED IT THAT WAY BECAUSE THEN THEIR PARENTS WOULDN’T READ IT. I DON’T THINK THE TEENS DID EITHER. THE AMATEUR MIGHT THINK THAT USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FOR TEXT WOULD MAKE IT MORE READABLE BECAUSE ALL THE LETTERS WOULD BE LARGER, BUT TRY READING A PARAGRAPH OF TEXT IN ALL CAPS. IN FACT, BELOW IS THIS PARAGRAPH IN ALL CAPS. WHAT DO YOU THINK?