Author Archives: shaun

The Forgotten Sales Channel Part 1 – Book distribution for self-publishers

[Originally posted on Part One sets the scene for the current bookselling landscape in Australia and why a book distributor is important and Part 2 will look in more detail distribution at options for Australian indie publishers]

Bookshop browsingBookshops are still a powerful channel for discovery and sales

As any regular reader of Digireado will know, it’s an exciting time to be an author. Yet, as the ranks of independent authors rapidly grow, very few self-publishers are bothering with brick and mortar bookshops anymore. It’s not difficult to see why—sales and distribution into bookstores has always been a notoriously difficult and costly task, while the closures of large chains and cherished independents alike have led to widespread speculation that high street bookselling is obsolete. Compare this to explosive growth in online self-publishing services, such as CreateSpace, Smashwords, Lulu and PressBooks, who not only offer affordable publishing options but also guarantee that your book will be available globally in eBook and print formats.

This is made possible because the eBook and POD distribution process is now almost entirely automated through a highly sophisticated global exchange of standardised book metadata. While this system technically allows any book to be available to thousands of bricks and mortar bookstores around the world, in reality sales are overwhelmingly restricted to an online retail market dominated by So, while a recent Bowker report found that the number of self-published books being produced almost tripled between 2006 and 2011, the infrastructure is controlled by a handful of large companies. With more and more self-published books competing for the increasingly coveted and contested Amazon best seller lists, indie authors are realising that there is a big difference between being “available” and being “discoverable” in a crowded marketplace.

Read full article at


Tagged: Amazon, Australia, Australian, Book Distribution, Book Distributor, Book marketing, Books, Booksellers, Bookshops, CreateSpace, eBooks, Editing, Fantasy, Fiction, Indie Author, Lightning Source, Marketing, Non-Fiction, POD, PressBooks, Publishing, Self Publishing, Small Business, Vanity Press, writers, Writing

Self-publishing Part 9: Justifying the Humble Paragraph

Looking into Paragraph StructureSpare a thought for the humble paragraph, the unappreciated middle-child of book structure. While authors lavish attention upon each sentence and fuss over chapter headings and cliff-hangers, the paragraph is often just an afterthought—a bite-sized chunk of text defined by line breaks. But far from being a simple convenience for the reader, paragraphs are essential in structuring the literary thought process itself, with each paragraph introducing and examining a single concept or thought before leading onto the next, and then the next, in continually flowing stream of ideas.

A good writer knows how to use paragraphs to control the rhythm and flow of the narrative, just like a poet uses line breaks to play with tempo, meaning and tone. But the physical structure of the paragraph also makes it a crucial building block of book design which, as we know, also has a big impact on the readability and success of a book. So let’s look more closely at how your paragraphs are structured and the tools and techniques designers use to make sure all those great ideas are presented clearly and effectively.

The Humble Paragraph

One of the first things you need to decide when laying out your body text is what kind of paragraph structure will you follow. Your choice of paragraph style will depend on the type of book you are writing and the format that you intend to publish it in.

There are two main paragraph styles: Block and Indented. It is important to choose one of these styles and stick to it throughout your book.

Block Paragraphs (like the paragraphs in the body of this post) do not include a first line indent and are separated by a double line break, creating a blank space between paragraphs. It is generally used in academic or professional non-fiction books where paragraphs tend to be longer and weightier or where the text may be regularly broken up by images or other design features.

The Indented Paragraph is defined by an indented first line of each paragraph (except the first paragraph of a chapter). There should be no extra line break between paragraphs. It is a more efficient paragraph structure as the removal of a gap between paragraphs minimises the page length of the book without hindering readability. It is also often preferred in fiction and commercial non-fiction, where paragraphs tend to be shorter, especially when there is a lot of dialogue.

Remember: whenever formatting paragraphs, always use the Paragraph Style function in your design software to ensure all of your paragraph parameters are applied consistently throughout the book. This will also save time and frustration when transferring the finished document into other file formats such as PDF and ePub.

As an example, when creating indented paragraphs, set the First Line Indent between 5mm and 15mm (depending on aesthetic preference) rather than using the Tab Key or Space Bar to set your indent, which can cause all sorts of headaches later on! Similarly, for Block Paragraphs you should set the line spacing between paragraphs to the same point size as your font so that you can avoid using double carriage returns to create line breaks.

  • Never use the Tab Key or the Space Bar to set paragraph Indents
  • Never use a double carriage return (pressing Enter twice) to create a line break

Paragraph Justification

Justify ParagraphFor eBooks and Web Books (books designed specifically to be read in online browsers) it is usually preferable to simply use left aligned paragraphs for your body text. This is often called ‘ragged right’ as there is no effort made to align the text with the right hand margin. While this may appear messier than justified paragraphs that align text to both margins, left aligned text is much simpler to adapt to different viewing formats. This is because eBook formats such as ePub and MOBI use ‘flowable text’ to allow eBooks to be read on devices of different screen sizes without having to zoom in and out.

TIP: Are you only intending to produce eBooks with flowing text? There is free software available that can produce well formatted quite easily. I’d recommend using Sigil for your ePub files then running them through Calibre to convert them into MOBI format.

As a general rule the text in printed books should always be Justified so that it aligns with both the left and right margins (like this paragraph and the two that follow). When the automatic justification is switched on in a word processor it adjusts the spacing between the words in a line to make sure all the characters on a line stretch all the way to the right margin. This creates a clean line of text down the page but can cause problems when large words overshoot the end of a line and have to be moved down, leaving exaggerated spaces between the characters that remain on the line above.

These spaces can create Rivers of white space through the block of text disrupting the Colour of the page and distracting the reader. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, ‘colour’ in this context doesn’t refer to the colour of the letters themselves, but to the overall colour effect of the block of text on the page. Compare this justified paragraph with some of the other left-aligned paragraphs in this post and you will notice more white space between the words, leading to a lighter and more inconsistent colour to the block of text.

Justified text therefore requires special attention be paid to the spacing between words and characters, and to the rules that determine when a line is broken. This is the real nitty gritty end of Typography – fine tuning the spacing between characters in a line of text to achieve the most efficient and aesthetically pleasing effect. Typographers use tricks developed by scribes hundreds of years ago: Kerning, Tracking, Glyph Scaling, Hyphenation and Leading. It can be a slow, painstaking process, demanding patience and attention to detail but modern design software packages, such as InDesign and Quark, make the task of finely tune the spacing between characters much, much less onerous than it used to be.

Kerning & Tracking

Kerning Vs Tracking

Kerning vs Tracking

One of the most useful formatting adjustments you can make are the spaces between characters. Kerning and Tracking both allow you to tweak the spacing between characters but there is a key difference: Kerning refers to the manual adjustment of space between two individual characters, while Tracking allows you to adjust the space uniformly between all characters in a range.

Karning Pairs

Table of common Kerning Pairs (click to enlarge)

Kerning and Tracking are necessary because the shape of each individual character will make them fit differently to each other character. To make the spacing appear even over a range of text many character combinations will need to be moved closer together while some may need to be moved apart. For example, while V and A can be adjusted to fit more snugly together, S and T cannot. These combinations are called Kerning Pairs. Fortunately, professional fonts will come with pre-configured settings for the most common kerning pairs, so the bulk of the work is already done for us (although this is why it’s essential to make sure you use a professional font in your book).

Kerning not only evens out the white space between characters, it can also greatly reduce the length of a word and a line of text and there are a number of instances when you may want to manually adjust the kerning or tracking in your document:

  • For aesthetic effect in headings or all-caps text
  • For unusual character combinations that may not have been pre-configured
  • To subtly lengthen or shorten a line of text if you are trying to fit the text into a fixed space or stop it going over onto a new page

Because kerning adjustments are expressed in relative units, a kerning adjustment made at one point size will have the same effect when the type is enlarged or reduced.

Kerning & Tracking Tips:

The adjustments are very small, measured in 1/1000em, although generally any adjustments less than 1/100 em are not visible. Note the ‘em’ measurement is relative to point size so if your font is set to point size 10, 1 em would equal 10 points—this means that kerning and tracking is also relative to point size and so will have the effect will be maintained if you change the font size.

Software such as Quark and InDesignhave keyboard shortcuts that will allow you to quickly adjust kerning and tracking on the fly (click on the links to get the full instructions):

InDesign Press Alt+Left/Right Arrow (Windows) or Option+Left/Right Arrow (Mac OS) to decrease or increase the kerning between two characters

Quark: Press Control-Shift-[ or Control-Shift-] (Windows) or Command-Shift-[ or Command-Shift-] (Mac OS)


Leading vs Kerning (image source:


Pronounced ‘ledding’, this refers to the vertical spacing between lines of text. The term derives from the thin strips of lead used by typesetters to physically separate lines of text on a printing press. The default setting on design software tends to be 120% of the point size; that is, a 10 point font size would be set with 12 point leading. Leading is measured from the baseline of a line of text to the baseline of the line below it so a 120% setting ensures that the tails or “descenders” from characters in the top line don’t interfere with tall “ascenders” in the bottom line.

Decreasing your leading will squeeze more lines on each page but will increase the density of the text, making it more difficult to read so you should be careful about fiddling with the settings too much.

Here are some of the general reasons why you might consider adjusting the leading:

Long lines of text (over 75 characters) may require increased leading
For printed text the ideal line length is held to be 66 characters, or within the range of 55-75 character. For online reading and eBooks this is not as strict but anything over 95 characters should be avoided

San serif fonts and bold face text  may need greater leading
Serif fonts have ‘feet’ that help define the baseline of the text and therefore provide greater distinction between lines of text than sans serif fonts. Bold face increases the density and darkens the colour of the text so any paragraphs or pages set in bold may require some extra leading to even out the colour

Small type, set at 8 point or below, will benefit from extra leading
As leading is relative to point size, it will decrease as point size decreases and  beyond a certain point the spacing becomes too small to easily pick apart the lines

If the typeface you are using is dense then you may add some leading
Different typefaces create text of different density and colour so you may need to increase (or decrease) your leading to compensate

Headings that overflow onto two lines may require ‘negative’ leading
Headings are typically in a larger point size and so line spacing can seem overly large, requiring the leading to be set below 100% so that the ascenders and descenders overlap. When applying negative leading, take care not to allow any character to physically interfere with another character.

Glyph Scaling

Glyph Scaling

Glyph Scaling:

Another trick that typographers can turn to when trying to fit text into tight spaces or even out the spacing in a justified line of text is to very subtly adjust the width of the characters themselves. This should be done with extreme care as any adjustments greater than ±3% will visibly distort the characters. However, if used sparingly and in the right situations then glyph scaling may just be the final touch you need to fit that troublesome orphan word back onto the previous page.


When longer words fall at the end of a line of justified text, their movement down to the next line often causes large spaces to be left between the words of the line above. The conventional way to deal with this is hyphenation, or the breaking of a word across two lines using a hyphen (-). Good design software allows you to preset rules for hyphenation, which is great for identifying trouble spots.

Hyphenation settings Adobe InDesign

Hyphenation Setting in Adobe InDesign

However, automated hyphenation can create its own problems, such as creating too many hyphen-breaks on the page (you should aim for no more than one a page if possible) or breaking words in ways that confuse the reader. This means that you will need to go through and assess each instance of hyphenation and either remove it completely (wherever possible) or otherwise ensure that it doesn’t interfere with the readability of the text.

Here are some general guidelines for how to break a word:

  • First, always consider whether the line break confuses the meaning of the word—for example breaking coincidence into coin/cidence will confuse the reader by presenting a word with a completely unrelated meaning on the first line
  • Do not divide words with less than six letters or two syllables
  • Do not break on letters (especially vowels) in the middle of a syllable
  • If a word has three consecutive vowels, break according to the sound of the syllables
  • Try to divide between consonants, but not between double letters
  • Try to divide so that the second part of the word starts with a consonant if possible
  • Do not hyphenate the last line of a right-hand page
  • Do not hyphenate the end of two consecutive lines
  • Do not move less than three letters to the following line
  • If a word already has a hyphen then break the word at the hyphen
  • Divide compound word (such as breakfast) between the component words (break/fast)
  • Divide after a prefix (such as co/operate or pseudo/science)

To prevent line breaking at certain places you can allocate text to be Nonbreaking or use a number of special symbols such as Discretionary Hyphens, Nonbreaking Hyphens and Nonbreaking Spaces.

TIP: InDesign and Quark will allow you to set up an automated min/max ranges for letter spacing (kerning and tracking), word spacing and hyphenation as part of their paragraph justification settings (InDesign will also allow you to set glyph scaling, although Quark requires this to be done manually). This is a fantastic tool provides elasticity to the software’s automatic justification algorithms and the right settings will take care of 99% of the paragraph formatting issues for you. However, nothing is perfect and you will still have to manually check for anomalies such as widows & orphans, over-hyphenation and rivers of white space.

Tagged: Book Design, Book Formatting, Books, eBooks, Editing, Fiction, Glyph Scaling, Hyphenation, InDesign, Justified Paragraphs, Justify, Kerning, Leading, Non-Fiction, Paragraph, Quark, Self Publishing, Tracking, Typesetting, Typography, Writing

Great podcast episode from the Creative Penn for self-published authors

E-Books for Dummiess Cover ImageA lot of first time authors are opting to self-publish digitally rather than go through the traditional print process. In fact, the number of writers taking up the opportunity has created an entirely new market in self-publishing services, as I’ve often discussed. With so many people offering their opinions and recipes for success, it can be hard to sift out the good advice from the bad, but I wanted to highlight this particular podcast episode from The Creative Penn as a great example of GOOD ADVICE.

The Podcast is called Publishing Ebooks for Dummies with Ali Luke.

As it states on the podcasts info page, Ali Luke is the author of Publishing Ebooks for Dummies with Wiley as well as Lycopolis, her indie published novel. Ali is a prolific blogger, featuring on some of the biggest blogs on the internet, like Copyblogger and Problogger as well at at her own site

The interview begins about 10 minutes in.

Tagged: Book Design, Book Formatting, Book marketing, Books, eBooks, Editing, Fiction, literature, Marketing, Non-Fiction, Publishing, Self Publishing, Small Business, writers, Writing

Your Author Website Design Considerations

If you have followed my free book marketing course “REVEALED: How to Market Your Self-Published Book Online” you will know that I advocate creating a strong online presence in order to get yourself and your books found by potential readers. Many publishers are asking their authors to build an author platform, which is a posh way of saying get yourself an internet presence :-) The same holds true for you as a self-published author.

One aspect of an internet presence is to have an author website, a place where you promote yourself and your books. You probably already have this in place, or plan to. I tend to go a stage further when advising authors about how to use the internet for book marketing, by proposing they not only have an author website where all of their books are promoted, but that they also have a separate website for every book they write. Now, before you start emailing me complaining that you hardly have enough time to write your books as it is, the book website is created once and then basically left as is. Also, there is a standard way of creating a website as, irrespective of the books you write, there are certain features and design elements your book website should have that are common across all websites. You can, therefore, have a template for each site and change things such as colours, headings etc., which are easy to do, so the effort of getting the website up and running for each book can be minimised.

Having a website for each book you write brings enormous benefits:

  1. Each website brings you more opportunities to be found in search engines
  2. When someone has read one of your books they can easily find your other ones by simply typing your name into a search engine
  3. A website dedicated to your book focuses a potential reader on that book without any other distractions that would make them click away from your website
  4. If you use pay-per-click advertising to promote your books you can send your readers to a dedicated website for that book which helps to lower your click costs.

When considering what your book website should contain you need to consider the following:

  1. The look of the website to include a header, colour scheme, the footer, the content and how you are going to capture your potential readers email addresses so you can let them know when your next book is released!
  2. How you are going to create the website
  3. How to follow up with people who visit your website and leave their email address so that they become avid purchasers and readers of your books.

This list may panic you if you are technically challenged and don’t know where to start.

Don’t panic. I am here to help and guide you, starting with this post, it really is straightforward once you know how.

What Your Website Should Contain

In my book marketing course I used an example of a book website that, in my opinion, is one of the better book websites out there. If you want to remind yourself of the site I referred to you can find it at This website contains a lot of the features I would recommend you include on your own book website the key ones being:

  • a simple, clear layout with lots of whitespace
  • an offer of something for free, such as a free chapter of the book
  • a link to buy the book
  • a list of reviews from happy readers and/or experts in your field
  • social media share buttons so your visitors can share your book website easily with their friends
  • credibility builders on the front page such as any TV appearances, newspaper mentions, some of the stronger reviews etc.
  • a high quality image of the book cover.

One important feature missing from the MBA Admission for Smarties website is a way of capturing the email addresses of people who visit the website but do not buy. The best place to do this is when someone requests your free chapter, or similar free offer. People do not mind giving an email address if they are going to get something in return that is of interest to them, and more importantly, benefits them and gives them some value.

Don’t be tempted to simply copy the MBA book website, or substantial parts of it, that is a breach of copyright. Instead make sure you include the features I have listed above but make the layout and colour scheme match the colours and mood of your book cover.

How to Create Your Website

You may decide not to create your book website yourself. However, whether you do or don’t, it is important to understand the recommendation I make and the reason behind it so you can pass that to your web developer.

One mistake I see authors making with their website is they do not get one created that allows them to easily update or change it. I know I said that one of the advantages of creating a book website is that it can remain as is once it is created. There may be times however, when you want to update the website, such as if you create a new version of the book, or you want to add more reviews. Do not be beholden to a web developer who will want to charge you for every change you wish to make. It can become expensive, and also the changes may not be made in a timely manner if they are out of your control.

For this reason I suggest you get the website created using WordPress, which is a powerful free software program, originally developed to create blogs with, but can also be used to build websites very successfully. WordPress allows you to also make changes and add pages to your website without needing to have a technical understanding of the program. Instead you use an editor similar to Microsoft Word for adding text, images and other items such as videos.

There are also many hundreds of places where you can get free website templates designed for WordPress if you do decide to do it yourself.

How to Follow Up With Your Visitors

As I have said before, capturing the email addresses of visitors to your book website is key to building a devoted audience. Building an audience of readers will make it easier for you to market and sell increasing numbers of your books by dropping your audience an email each time you release a new book. So how do you capture email addresses and easily keep in touch with your audience?

The easiest way of doing it is to use what is called an autoresponder. This is a program that will take the email address submitted through a form they provide on your website and store it in a list. You can use the autoresponder to send an email to the list without having to enter every email address manually. In my opinion the best autoresponder to use is Aweber as emails sent from their system tend to get through the spam filters as they are very respected. There are other autoresponders available so you should look around before making a final decision.

A good autorespodner will cost you a monthly or yearly fee but they are well worth it. There are some free ones around but don’t be tempted to use them as very often the emails sent through them tend not to get past the spam filter.

What to do next

If you have a book already self-published which does not have an associated website I strongly urge you get one established. If you have one already for your book, I recommend you review it against the recommendations I make in this post to ensure you are getting the most value from it.

I will be releasing more detailed posts and videos to help you to get your book website established, so make sure you are subscribed to this blog, if you are not already on my list, to be notified when those posts are available.

I hope you find this post valuable to your book marketing efforts. Please leave me a comment below to let me know how it goes, or to provide any advice from your experiences with your own book website to help your fellow authors.

Good luck with your book sales.

The post Your Author Website Design Considerations appeared first on Online Book Marketing.

How to Market Your Self-Published Book Online

Hello and welcome, it’s good to have you here.

My name is Greg Spence and I am an author, speaker, internet marketing strategist and mentor.

So what do I do?

I help authors who are self-published to sell more of their books, so if you are a self-published author and you are looking at ways in which can sell more of your books you’re the right place.

What I’ve done for you is I have created a free training course that takes you through a system of marketing books that I’ve developed over the last 12 years, and I’ve been successfully using this method with several authors who have sold quite a substantial number of books as a result.

Obviously I can’t guarantee that you’re going to do the same, because I don’t know how well you’re going to be able to apply what I teach you in this course. However, I do know through experience that if you apply what I’m teaching here you will stand a much better chance of selling more copies of your book than perhaps you would without it, I hope you enjoy the course.

Here is the introductory video, enjoy.


Click here to view the embedded video.

Click here to get access to the next lesson now

The post How to Market Your Self-Published Book Online appeared first on Online Book Marketing.