Does Your Book Stand Out?

As an author or small publisher, you think you want your book to stand out. You believe that a book that stands out from the crowd will catch people’s attention. Maybe, maybe not.

While a book that stands out from the crowd does catch people’s attention. The question you should ask yourself is: What type of attention are you catching?


Does your book make people say, “That looks intriguing!” or “That looks odd or out of place!”?

While you want your book to stand out, if you have independently published, it is more important that your book looks like everyone else’s book. In other words, you want your book to look professional and conform to the expectations readers have for the genre you are writing in.

For example, if you write romance novels, using photographs of real people or places in your book’s cover design will make you look like the other books in your genre. If, instead, you use a pencil and ink drawing on your book’s cover, your book will stand out, but it may send a bewildering message to regular romance readers. These readers will wonder if your book is really a romance novel.

Valerie Andrews, a book award judge, says, “The design sets that tone for the book and either calls out to the reader or sends the reader on to the next book.”

The KISS principle (Keep it Simple Sweetheart) is important in book design. It is better to err on the side of having your book design be too simple than too complicated and cluttered.

All the elements of a book’s design—cover design, interior layout, fonts, trim size, binding, and even paper stock—should conform to industry standards. Remember that keeping your book design (both cover and interior) simple will be more effective in grabbing readers’ attention.

Instead of focusing on a cover design to make your book stand out, focus on a title that grabs attention and sales text that draws a reader in. Obtaining strategic endorsements can also help your book stand out. Strive for your book to stand out with superior writing and compelling story.

If you are a new or unestablished author, it is more important that your book looks and feels like other professionally published books than that it stands out from the crowd. Strive to distinguish yourself through your words and message, not the design of your book.

Related Posts:
Book Cover Design Tools to Know
Do You Know What it Takes to Sell a Book?
Is Your Book a Work of Beauty?

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Photo courtesy of Anastasia Zhenina

A Drinkable Book

A new book and its design are giving new meanings to the phrase “A Good Book Can Change Your Life.”

I am always amazed at the creativity of book publishers. However, this new book design is simply incredible. Having recently gone to Nicaragua on a mission trip, this book especially caught my attention.

Water is essential for life, yet many communities around the world lack fresh water that is free from contaminates. In fact, 3.4 million people die each year from preventable water-related diseases.

WATERisLIFE, an organization devoted to providing clean water to those in need, recently teamed up with researchers from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Virginia. The result is a Drinkable Book.

This Drinkable Book is revolutionary. It will change lives. You can learn more about it by watching this video.

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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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Have You Heard of This?

It’s called the Flipback book. It is small and light and just the right size to slip into a pocket. It’s not an e-reader, it’s a paper book.

Printed on extra-thin paper, the book is held longways with the spine in the palm of the hand. The pages are read top to bottom and flipped up as you read. The spine is made to stay open so that you don’t have to hold the book open.

The design was first introduced in the Netherlands in 2009 and is all the rage there. It has spread to Spain, France, and now the United Kingdom.

Will this Flipback book make an appearance in the United States? Most likely. When it does, its portability might catch on, but I doubt it will become more popular than e-readers.