1. Why shouldn’t I lay my book out in Word?

Word is a word processing program, not designed to format files for press. There are lots of issues that can and do occur when you use Word to lay out a print project:

  • Sometimes the black text is only at about 90% when printed, so you’re essentially getting a dark gray.
  • Word does not work in CMYK colors, which are necessary for printed books. It works in RGB colors, which are meant for digital viewing.
  • Word will display “faux” fonts that you don’t actually have. If you choose the italic or bold options in Word, the program will “fake” those effects, even if you don’t have the bold or italic version of the font. This means, your PDF will not have the bold or italic effects you want.

Word can be a fine tool—if used properly, to lay out e-books. RGB color is preferred for e-Books of course, and the fonts will change on various devices anyway.

2. Where do I get an ISBN for my book?

  • In the USA you purchase ISBNs from Bowker.

3. Why don’t I need a barcode on my e-book?

Barcodes are the physical scanning codes you see on products, that allow scanners to determine the price. E-books are not a physical product, they are never scanned. You should have an ISBN assigned to your e-book, though.

4. Does it really matter what font I use for my book?

Yes! Yes! Yes! There are many reasons, starting with professionalism, moving through readability and ending with sales that make it essential to use fonts wisely. You don’t want to alienate even one paying customer. I wrote an article a year or two ago for the Independent Book Publishers Association, and have posted an updated version of it on my LinkedIn, addressing one aspect of fonts, that offers information that will be useful when creating ads for your book, and even the cover design.

A few years ago Stephen Coles wrote a great article on book cover fonts for FontFeed.com. I think it’s still relevant today, and many of my favourites made the list. I recommend you read the whole article, which includes images.

Cole’s top 10 list of book cover fonts:

  • Minion
  • ITC New Bakserville
  • FF Scala & FF Scala Sans
  • Adobe Garamond (one of my all-time favorite fonts)
  • Trade Gothic
  • Electra
  • Fornier
  • Dante
  • Din

5. Do I really need a website?

Yes! I’ve written about this topic before also, and here’s an excerpt from that article:

I asked well-known agent Andrea Brown of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, if she thought it was important for authors to have an online presence and she replied, “short answer is yes—authors must have.”

That opinion is shared by Gwen Gades, owner of Dragon Moon Press in Alberta, Canada. “Social media is very important, as is author branding. More and more readers choose based not just on a book, but because they have gotten to know an author “personally”.

Large publishing houses, including Random House have an online biography for each of their authors that includes book cover images, links to purchase their books, links to personal blogs and websites, as well as Facebook pages. Harlequin has a similar setup for its romance authors. The Penguin Group (USA) has also recognized the importance of authors having and online presence and have a PDF called Penguin Authors Guide to Online Marketing, published back in 2008 (Google the title if you want to see it).

If you’re a small press owner or self-publisher, you’ll want to spend your time and money wisely, and in today’s market that should be in online promotions where you’ll be able to reach the highest number of people for the least amount of investment.