The Inside Does Matter

I recently purchased a book that was published by a small publisher in Canada. This publisher was a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and ran as a traditional press publishing authors and paying royalties. I bought the book to read because I was interested in the subject matter.

bad books

Given her professional affiliation and credentials, I was surprised when I opened the book and saw the interior. I was astonished how unprofessional the interior layout looked! In fact, it was so poorly done that it really put me off.

I had perused the reviews posted on about the book before I purchased it. The majority of the reviews were positive, however one individual did say that the book could have used better editing. When I saw the interior design of the book, I understood what that reviewer was probably talking about.

Here are some of the issues the interior layout presented that made this book look so amateur:

  • Title page did not contain the publisher and place of publication as is customary; instead, it was placed on the back side of the title page.
  • The copyright page, which is usually placed behind the title page on the verso (left) page, was placed on a separate page on the right page.
  • Chapters did not start on the right-hand pages as is also customary. Each chapter started wherever the last chapter ended. Most began on the left side of the book.
  • The space between the chapter headings and the start of each chapter’s writing was inconsistent.

Why do I bring this up?

Because, please believe me when I say this, interior layout matters. Readers judge a book by their insides as much as by the cover. Most avid readers know what the inside of a professional book looks like. When they come across one that does not match up, it puts them off.

Recently, I received this message from a BookCrash book review blogger:
“I will not be able to do a review as the quality of the book was so far below industry standards, no margins of white space, run together table of contents, subject matter very poor and not written in quality, that I did not want to recommend it to my blog readers or embarrass the publisher. Had I known that these were self-published type books, I would not have signed up to be a blogger.”

The book this blogger was referring to was not a self-published book. It was a book by a newer small publisher who is running a traditional, royalty-based press.

Interior design matters. If you have published one book or 100 books, do yourself and your readers a favor: Don’t just throw something together. Make sure the interior design of your book looks professional. Hire someone to do the interior layout if you need to. If you are interested in hiring a professional to do the interior layout of your next book, I recommend CREST Publisher Services run by my spouse, Edward Bolme. He is able to provide you with samples and references.

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5 thoughts on “The Inside Does Matter

  1. We take this issue seriously as well. When we first started publishing print, we made some mistakes and was referred to “The Chicago Manual of Style” which has since become an essential reference.

    By the way, question on your point that chapters should start recto. The CMS states (1.66), “Each chapter normally starts on a new page, verso pr recto… The first chapter normally begins on a recto.” And that is how we layout our books. First chapter is always recto but subsequent chapters can start recto or verso. What do others think?

    John McClure
    Signalman Publishing


  2. I now read most of my books on an ereader, so the recto/verso question is irrelevant (instead, a whole different set of issues arise).

    However, for paperback novels, I do expect new chapters to always begin on the right-hand page.


  3. I am hearing from others that it is not a hard and fast rule. I personally think it looks a lot cleaner.


  4. Are you talking about an ebook (Kindle type) or print book? The formatting on ebooks is VERY DIFFERENT. Just wanted you to qualify the type book you were reading..


  5. I am talking about print books. I still read more print than ebooks. Publishers still sell more print than ebooks.


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