These Small Touches Make A Big Difference In Your Self-Published Book’s Appeal | Self-Publishing Relief

by | Oct 2, 2019 | Book Cover Design, Goal Setting and Preparation, Self-Publishing | 0 comments

In many instances, little details make the difference between ho hum and hooray! And luckily, when you’re self-publishing your book, you’re in full control of all the important details. The experts at Self-Publishing Relief know that small, expert touches can make a big difference in the perceived quality and resulting sales appeal of your self-published book.

Small Ways To Make Your Book Stand Out And Impress Readers

Present A Professional Interior

You know the old adage: It’s what’s inside that counts! Though a great cover is your best point-of-purchase sales pitch, your book’s interior should also be polished and professional. Poor quality interior formatting and sloppy style choices on your pages will scream out to readers: Amateur! The writing is probably inferior too! You don’t want bad word-of-mouth reviews to send your book sales into a nosedive.


Elements that can make or break your book’s inner appeal

Trim Size

  • If your book is over 250 pages, a smaller trim size will lead to a very thick book, which may scare off potential buyers. Try moving up to a larger trim size to minimize the thickness.
  • Also, if you write poetry and have a lot of longer lines, you may want to think about going with a larger trim size so that your lines aren’t repeatedly cut off.


Make sure your margins offer readers a good, clean visual. The gutter should be large enough that your text doesn’t slip into the book spine, and your outer margins should leave enough space for the reader to hold the book—but not so much that the text block looks too small for the page! A good balance between text and white space is essential.


Font may well be one of the most important aspects of your self-published book—and the one that can truly make or break the interior design.

  • Be sure to choose a simple, legible font. You can’t go wrong with Times New Roman.
  • If you’re still not sure which typeface to use, you can do a few things:
    • Try out different fonts.
    • Look through books whose interior formatting you like and choose a font similar to those.
    • Research! There are thousands of fonts available, and plenty of people offering opinions and advice on how to choose the best font.

Line Spacing

  • Along with font, the line spacing you select (along with kerning) will play an important role in the body text of your book.
  • Be sure to choose a spacing that leaves some white space between lines without creating large gaps. A 1.15 line spacing generally works well!

Chapter Headings

Chapter headings are another place where you can add a special little touch to the interior of your book. You can experiment with the format of the chapter headings until you find something you really feel captures the spirit of your book. Consider some of these tips:

  • Small caps often work well for chapter headings.
  • Add little images/symbols on either or both sides of the chapter heading, or below/above the chapter text.
  • Place a small divider between the chapter heading and the text.
  • If you’re up for a more advanced foray into chapter headings, you can even add a design to the entire page.
  • Use vignettes or quotes underneath the chapter headings/before the text.
  • Don’t be afraid to get bold! While a small, delicate chapter heading can be great, big can be beautiful too. Use large, bold letters, or try justifying the chapter heading to the outer edge of the page so that it stands out. It doesn’t always have to be centered in the middle of the page.
  • Tie your chapter heading designs in with the cover design of your book. It will make everything feel connected and complete.
  • Utilize “the sink”—drop your chapter headings down farther into the page for a dramatic result.
  • You can also set the first line of the chapter in a different typeset to make it stand out, or use a dramatic drop cap. These types of small details will add a professional and unique look to your book design.

Again, do some research! Check out your favorite books and see how the chapter headings were handled. Do they match up with the genre or spirit of the book? If so, how was this accomplished?

Running Head

The running head is the line of text at the top of the page. It usually includes the title of the book and the author’s name, and can also include page numbers (though those can be at the bottom as well—or, if you’re feeling really adventurous, in the middle of the outer side margins).

  • Your running heads should NOT be used on display pages: any page with a chapter heading.
  • They also shouldn’t appear on the front or back matter pages, or on pages that include only an image or multiple images with no text.
  • You can set up the running heads in multiple ways. Here is a good article that delves more deeply into how to make your running heads stand out.


Turn Heads With A Creative, Eye-Catching Cover

The cover and spine of your book are the first things that any potential reader will see, and are your final opportunity for turning a browser into a buyer. So it’s especially important that your book cover is professionally designed and suits your genre.

Try some of these finishing touches to ramp up your cover design’s sales potential and make it stand out on a shelf:

  • High-contrast images and text can be very eye-catching.
  • Darken the edges of your book cover to draw the attention to the center without using a frame.
  • Use two different colors for the title font. This could mean putting a single, important word of the title in another color. Or, if the title is on more than one line, make each line a different color.
  • If you have any good reviews, awards, or endorsements for your book—put them on the cover!
  • Leave a lot of space. While a busy book cover might seem like a great way to catch someone’s eye, a cover that focuses on one or two important design elements and leaves a lot of open space can be much more striking. (Sometimes less is more when it comes to design.)
  • Make sure that your book’s spine is easy to read—you want people to know what the title of your book is!
  • Make it clever. If you can cleverly tie your cover design into the title/theme of your book, go for it!
  • For genre books, font effects can be your best friend. Try a creepy-looking font for a thriller, or a more romantic-looking one for a romance novel.
  • Use a fancy font for the title (but if you do, make sure to keep the rest of the fonts on your cover clean and simple).
  • Try to set the title (if it’s more than one word) together in smart, balanced ways. The title doesn’t HAVE to run in a straight line. Get creative!
  • Make sure the blurb on the back of your book does what it’s supposed to—hooks the reader. You want to not only give them an idea of what the book is about but also sell it. And remember not to give away the ending!

Again, research is your best friend. Go to a bookstore or library and pick out a handful of book covers that attract your attention. What design elements do they use? Can you take some of those ideas and work them into your own cover?

If you need some more inspiration for ways to make your cover stand out, check out the Best Book Covers of 2018.

Also, be sure to avoid these common mistakes when designing a cover for your self-published book. And check out the cover design articles on our blog for general tips and guidelines on how to design covers for specific genres.


Question: What are some of your favorite small touches you’ve seen in books and on their covers?


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