Why Typography Matters

Who Says Typography Matters?

The Stanford Persuasive Technologies Lab did a study, and found that despite the naysayers, typography matters.  Not merely in terms of persuasiveness--in terms of credibility. What did their study find out?

The study found out that "participants made credibility based decisions...based upon...overall visual appeal."  And what elements went into determining "overall visual appeal?"  The very first element was typography, followed by layout, font size, and color scheme.  Why does this matter to you, as an author? 


Isn't the bigger question: how can it not matter to you? As someone who has set out on the journey of self-publishing, can you afford to ignore the fact that buyers are making instant decisions about your credibility as an author from the "Look Inside the Book?"

If you're a new author, chances are, what you've cared about this far is just finishing the book.  You've been pregnant with it for ages--months, years--even decades.  All you've been able to see is the finish line; typing "The End" and that last edit.  Or five.  Or ten.  But now, you're faced with an overwhelming number of new choices--print, or digital? Both? And unless you're J.K. Rowling, you're working within a publishing budget. That means, you're shopping for the best values.  Some "eBook conversion" companies will tell you that they'll do your book for $5.00.  Or $50.00.  Or they'll clean up your Word file for $25.00.  But what does that get you?

Is "typed in Word" Good Enough?

In today's market, a lot of folks think that just because something's typed on a computer, that it's "print-ready," or that it automatically looks like a professionally-made eBook. But that's not necessarily the case. Even those "professional templates" won't necessarily get you what you want--or, more importantly, what you need.  Creating an eBook that just looks like a Word file isn't the best thing.  When you look at a commercially-produced book, on Amazon, you likely know it.  You can see it. Feel it.  Taste it.  You don't have worrisome second thoughts about buying that book.  You know that a lot of loving time and attention went into the layout, which reassures you as to the quality of the content.  It gives the book credibility.  Even if you don't really know why it looks that way, why it's giving you that vibe, you know it in your bones. Don't you want your potential reader to feel that sense of comfort, too?  Have your book impart that sense of credibility?

What to do?
What to do?

Here's a Simple Test

As a simple test, here's the same exact book.  Word for word.  On the left is the book (for reference, it's Agatha Christie's "Secret Adversary," one of the Tommy and Tuppence books) made with a simple Word file, uploaded at the KDP.  In the middle, the same book, made with one of those "buy a bookmaking template for only $49.95!" websites. (You can click any of them to lightbox and enlarge for a closer view!) On the right, is the book as we made it, here at Booknook.biz. We didn't do anything spectacularly "special" to it, other than using a chapter-head font.  Now, there's nothing wrong, really, with the book on the left.  We've certainly seen worse. The book in the center, I think we can all agree, is going to be hurt at Amazon's LITB.  The book on the right?  Would you hesitate for a moment, about buying that book?  No--you wouldn't. because you can tell that it's a professional, commercial book.  Nothing on that page scares you away from trusting that author and that publisher. Isn't that what you want for your book?



Secret Adversary, made from a Word upload at the KDP.  Serviceable.
Secret Adversary, made from a Word upload at the KDP. Serviceable.
Click to enlarge

Secret Adversary, now made from a Word template, sold on a website, via the KDP
Secret Adversary, now made from a Word template, sold on a website, via the KDP. Hmmm....not so great, eh? 
Click to enlarge

Secret Adversary, made by Booknook.biz, using HTML to impart flair and a sense of the era.
Secret Adversary, made by Booknook.biz, using HTML to impart flair and a sense of the era. 
Click to enlarge


So:  What's your choice?  You're the buyer.  It's your money.  Faced with these three books, which one would YOU choose?  You already know the answer. Don't handicap your book before it even gets out of the gate.  Remember what Stanford determined:  typography, typography...and typography.  


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T'was the Night Before Christmas... 

 (With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, may he forgive my doggerel...)

...and all through the shop,
all we minions were working,
   until ready to drop.

The ebooks were flying,
the covers were spare,
The edits were crazy,
   with "one more thing I must share!"

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old Saint Nick,
But Hitch made us work,
   Waving 'round an old stick!

So slave we all did,
And made all your books,
So that Hitch would say now,
   that we're off the hook.

Come today we're off,
to rest up our fingers,
Our hats we will doff,
   No books they do linger.

But we'll all be back,
Don't give it a thought,
for like all wage slaves,
   we're easily bought.

We'll be back on the fifth,
all eager and fresh,
All ready for you,
   after a well-deserved rest.

So Hitch wants to say,
very strongly and loud,
  you're the best type of crowd.

Indy and Len and Hitch and the gang,
will be back on the 5th,
to do books with a BANG!

In the meantime don't worry,
if you're in a hurry,
'cuz some poor guy got stuck
   sitting here like a duck.

Your emails we'll receive,
so no need to grieve.
We'll be a bit slow,
but we're raring to go.

Your books will be worked on,
your edits still made,
we're just resting a bit,
   before we all fade.

So please excuse the delays;
It won't be for days;
we'll jump on your queries,
   for your wondrous new series.

We waited for Santa,
'Cuz we love old St. Nick,
And sure 'nuff he came,
   It wasn't a trick.

And as he rode off,
into the night,
I could swear I heard Hitch yell,
   "That Edit's Not Right!"


We'll be back on the morning of January 5th; we'll be here parttime between now and then, thanks.