Two things I’ll do differently with the design of my next book

One of the great aspects of publishing your own work is total control over the content and design of your printed book.

After self-publishing “The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal” and appearing at more than a dozen live events, I’ve learned two things I want to change the next time around:

  • Make more space in the front for signing the book.
  • Write end copy asking readers to review the book.

title pageI love it when readers and potential readers ask me to sign my book. First I blush a little, and then I ask, “Do you want me to sign with a dedication to you? Or just my name?” I am aware some people may be buying the book for someone else, or they may intend to part with it after reading it, and they don’t want their name inside. Then, I almost always sign my books the same way: “Stay true to yourself.” I want readers to remember one of the morals of my story.

I have struggled a little with where to sign. Inside front cover? Dedication page? I’ve settled on the title page, though I wish there was just a dash more room there for my John Hancock. As the designer, I easily could have made more space.

As for reviews, I’m a firm believer that any review is a good one because it calls attention to a book and gets people talking. Take a look at Amazon’s reviews for the last book you loved; odds are, someone hated it. It’s the nature of art; if you try to please everyone, you’ll please no one. In any case, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and even Smashwords do a great job asking readers to review ebooks they’ve purchased with follow-up emails a few days or weeks after they’ve downloaded the book. Printed books are another matter, and a little note in back about the value of reviews (and raves on social media) is a good idea to remind paperback readers to take action when they finish a book.

As I accumulate ideas for my second book, a fun little romp through 1982 when I was growing up in Wadena, Minn., and learning the complicated relationship dance practiced by teenagers everywhere, I will keep these design concepts in mind: Make space to sign, and ask for reviews.


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