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When it comes to the formatting and design of your books, there doesn’t seem to be a clear path to ensuring readers’ expectations are met. It makes sense that readers would want an easy, bump-free read. Yet without a clear guide, it’s easy to miss little details that make a big difference. If your readers encounter a poorly formatted book, no matter how well written it might be, they are liable to close it without finishing the read.

That would be such a bummer!

Investing time and capital into your formatting may seem frivolous, but it can allow you to reap the rewards for many years, or even decades, to come. Allow me to share some benefits of taking the long-term view.

Clean formatting makes an impression. Quality makes an impression. What impression is that, you might ask? It’s the impression that your work is superior and that what you are offering is outstanding.

This column is about prosperity and how to make an abundant living as a writer. The layout of your books must be as good, or perhaps even better, than the bestselling books in your genre. We all know the benefits of a quality cover. I believe the benefits of excellent formatting factor into the mix just as much—or more. Readers might forgive a muddy cover, yet a book that’s visually hard to read could get tossed back. Your story won’t be able to hook readers if no one can read it.

It’s the little touches that make a big difference—and an impression. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your book’s layout hits the mark:

  • Your layout must present a clean, easy read. If you’re writing nonfiction, bold headings with a larger font will call attention to points you want to make, and putting special quotes or ideas in shaded boxes can ensure your points hit home.
  • Choose a font and font size that’s popular in your genre, but don’t be afraid to mix and match fonts to create a unique look.
  • Include a black and white mirror image of your cover as the first page of your book. It’s a nice touch that says “professionally published.”
  • Finally, put your best headshot on your About the Author page. Readers love connecting with their favorite authors, so it will help if they know what you look like!

Clean formatting isn’t just nice to have. If you want your readers to clamber to read your books, providing an experience that includes a neat, crisp layout is something that can elevate your book. Fiction or nonfiction, a beautiful book is one that’s cherished, held onto, and collected. And while great formatting can require an investment of time to gain clarity on what your genre’s readers expect, I stand by my belief that it only takes a little more time to enhance your books in a way that will allow a solid return on your investment. No matter your budget, you absolutely can create a book that is first class!

A final note: For authors on a budget who can’t afford custom formatting or the cost of formatting software, you can still create respectable results with Word or Scrivener. For less than a couple hundred dollars, you can ensure your books are beautifully designed with a bit of customization, adding simple touches that make a huge difference. Then, once you’ve begun to make a healthy profit, you may want to elevate your book’s formatting to the next level and test the impact a beautiful book has on your book sales and your brand. I promise you will love it and never look back.

Happy writing!

Honoree Corder

Honoree Corder

Honorée Corder is the author of more than fifty books, an empire builder, and encourager of writers. When she’s not writing, she’s spoiling her dog and two cats, eating something fabulous her husband made on the grill, working out, or reading. She hopes this article made a positive impact on your life, and if it did, you’ll reach out to her via HonoreeCorder.com.

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