The words are credited to the artistic genius Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni at the age of 87. A man that many would consider a genius or artistic marvel of his time uttered those words when many would say, "I have mastered my craft. I am accomplished."
So what do the words Ancora Imparo mean? Simply translated, "I am still learning."
Wow. I will never forget the first time I heard about this little phrase and I doubt I will any time soon. It has stuck with me whether I am applying it to my day job, or my midnight shift writing. This particular blog is aimed at those words and how it applies to all of us as authors, musicians or artists.
Specifically, I am going to use this space to talk about independent publishing and the importance of your typeface. After spending time around more accomplished authors from the Queen City, Seth and I quickly learned that we needed to focus more on the inside or the guts of our book. Everyone loves the cover, but we had work to do on our type face.
So, if you are like me when I started writing you may be asking, "What is typeface exactly?" Typeface is the presentation of your words on the page and is made up of elements such as margins, indents and line spacing. I am so happy to have learned it that I wanted to share it, but I do not claim to be an expert. I am simply one author trying to help others avoid my mistakes.
First I would like to tell a quick story about what launched my passion for type face. Seth and I had the privilege of attending a local author meetup in Charlotte about a month ago. A number of excellent authors such as John G. Hartness, Darin Kennedy and Gail Z. Martin were there and we took time discussing how to finish your novel. The conversation was great but the most valuable exchange happened over a plate of noodles while we were all chowing down afterwards.
Seth and I were sitting with John G. Hartness and showed him our book, Keys of Candor: The Red Deaths. He praised us for the cover. We swelled with pride. Then he flipped open our book thumbed through it, looked at Seth and said, "You're self-pubbed right? I can tell by your typeface. Dead giveaway." He was gracious and filled us in on the fact that our book looked like an online blog in print. I took notes and went back to work, determined to work on our book and its insides. I have never been happier to receive criticism. It was warranted and helpful and in the end our book is better for it.
I poured over multiple blogs and how to guides and compared notes on several sources and in the end I am happy to say that our typeface has been greatly improved. We still have a lot to learn and I am sure this is not the finished product but I am proud of the change and want to share. I also am going to list out the multiple benefits of paying attention to your typeface.
1.) It Looks Better
This might seem simple enough but it goes without saying. People want to open a book and be invited in to read its pages. If your book looks like the inside of a text book or a blog then people are likely to look away and find something else that is more aesthetically pleasing. Some of it is subliminal and goes unnoticed by the reader but it is important. Below is a comparison of version one and version two of our typeface. Granted this is only one page, but you should be able to see the difference with them next to one another.
2.) It Looks Like You Actually Care
Let's be honest, no one wants to be at a writer's group and hand out a book that looks like trash. Many authors get quite irate when they see books that are not professionally finished. Why? Because they take pride in their craft and it frustrates them when someone blunders along with a half-finished work trying to become the next millionaire on Amazon. Of course we all want to be successful but we should also put time and effort into being as professional as possible. Being self-published is no excuse for laziness. In fact it is cause for more work, dedication and frustration trying to polish up your book until it shines.
3.) It May Cost You and Your Reader Less
That's right! You can sell your book for less because most likely if you originally formatted your book like Seth and I did with no indents and a full line between paragraphs your book length will be longer. More pages = more expensive when you use a service such as www.createspace.com. By editing our typeface we were able to reduce the price of our paperback from $15.99 to $13.99! That is two bucks our readers don't have to spend and honestly the difference in our royalty is negligible. Everyone appreciates a good value so by tidying up your book you may drop it to a price point that encourages someone to finally snatch it up. This also has a compounding effect because when you order private stock to sell at conventions or signings you pay less for your own book too!
4.) It Feels Good
This one is a freebie, but it is true that when you take time to really smooth out your book's rough edges and find a way to improve it even after your are done writing and editing it feels good. It is nice to continue to improve your books even after you are "finished" with them.
If you would be interested to learn some of the more specific tips and tricks on editing typeface then subscribe to our newsletter and I will be sending out an email specific to all the tips I uncovered and I will put them all in one nice email for you that you can come back to and reference. I will cover topics such as font type, indention, line spacing, margins and more. My hope is to have the email out within one week so be sure to subscribe.
Also, if you would like to grab a copy of Keys of Candor: The Red Deaths it is available at www.amazon.com and we would be honored to have you read it.