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How Effective Design Helps Your Writing Career

Unless you’re planning to stick to recording audio books for your entire career, there will come a point at which design becomes critically important to your success.

Like it or not, we do judge books by their cover, and it’s important that yours is one that makes people think “Wow! I want to read that,” instead of “Wow, that looks self-published!” But even after your reader gets past that all-important cover, there’s the interior design of the book to think about. Does it look professional? Readable?

What about after they finish reading and visit your website to find out more about you? Is it functional? Consistent? Even in existence?

And, what’s the deal with this new eBook fad? Like it or not, it’s around to stay at least, and a way to make you some extra money at best.

Truthfully, it all can be a bit overwhelming, so read on for more information about the nuances of design.

Importance of (^ good) design

Here’s the thing about design. With few exceptions, cheap design looks like cheap design and expensive design looks like expensive design.

It seems obvious, but while there are a few facets of the publishing process where you may be able to get away with cutting corners, this isn’t one of them. Good design (backed up with cohesive branding) is what will propel you from a run-of-the-mill self-published author, one of millions, into one of the few whose work doesn’t LOOK like that of a self-published author.

If your goal is to sit on bookshelves next to Salinger and Brown, then spend the time up front to make your book like it belongs there.

Okay, I get that I need good design. What’s up first?

Everyone has heard the cliche that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, it’s an unfortunate aspect of our stretched-for-time lifestyle that we do. When given the choice between two books with identical interior content but different covers, the vast majority of us will choose the better designed cover.

Heck, think about authors that re-release their books every few years. The only thing changed is the cover, but seeing that shiny new Carl Hiaasen book that blends in so nicely with all of the others you own is enough to make you stop and think about picking up another copy. (On a personal  note, I own three different copies of the Lord of the Rings, and the one I show off most proudly is the one with the most well-designed cover.)

So take it from us, spend the time to make your book really stand out, and that battle for eyeballs will get that much easier.

Show off your insides (or, the importance of interior layout design)

Ah, the oft-forgotten pages inside of your book. They want so much more than simple Word formatting can give them! Help out yourself, and your readers by investing in interior design that will make the most of each page, saving you money without forgetting about your readers.

I mean, you could just stick with size 9 Times New Roman without any paragraph spacing or page breaks, saving you a bit on printing costs, but I guarantee many of your readers wouldn’t get past the first few chapters without a raging headache and/or eye strain.

This is even more important for non-fiction books, where exceptional interior layout can be a determining factor in someone choosing your book over the competition.

The design type that keeps on giving (hint: you’re looking at it now)

The odds are, if you’re reading this, that you get how important the web is as a marketing tool. For reasons I cannot fathom, many authors don’t seem to get it –  Stephanie Meyer and Harlen Coben have subpar websites. Heck, Tom Clancy doesn’t even HAVE a personal website!

A website is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools you have, and once you have one designed and set up correctly, you’ll be reaping the rewards for years to come. Give your readers a place to go after they finish your book to find out more about you, and have reasons for them to keep coming back.

In addition, a well-designed website will give you that professional look and feel so helpful when getting people to take you seriously as an author. It says “I’m for real and I’m in this for the long haul.”

eBook Design

Think about it: all of the beauty of a physical printed book, but without the printing, shipping, or storage issues.While the controversy surrounding eBooks (including fear of their eventual replacement of paper books) rises, so do their sales. In our we-want-it-all-and-we-want-it-now society, many readers don’t want to wait for UPS to deliver their latest read. They don’t even want to have to drive down to their nearest Barnes and Noble. They just want to read what they want to read, when they want to read it.

Although I enjoy curling up in a chair with my favorite book as much as anyone else, I don’t think we can deny the power of the eBook as at least a supplement to a printed version. At the least, they are another way to get your name out there while putting extra money in your  pocket.

They can even be prepared with the options you want: don’t want someone to be able to print it out? No problem! Want to disable text copying and pasting? Sure thing! Your book can even be formatted to work on the Amazon Kindle, which will also get you listed in their online eBook store.

Importance of Consistency

No matter which design options are right for you, the most important thing to remember is to be consistent. Your cover should be consistent with your interior which should be carried through in your website and eBook version.

This is made much easier when it’s backed up by branding, but even if you don’t go through that process, it’s a good idea to set some guidelines so that all of your materials will work together. You don’t want to use pink and green text on your book cover, but use blue and red on your website. Give yourself that professional edge and invest in good design. Your career will thank you!

Okay, I got it. How do I get started?

Design and its accompanying topics are far too in-depth to fully cover here, so for more information check out the design category on our blog. Or for more personal advice and direction to make your work shine, contact us.  Each author is unique, and the earlier you invest in branding and design, the better.