Ransom Note Desktop Publishing and Your Self-Published Book

Mar 21, 2016 | Book Publishing

Ransom Note

Here we go again.

Back in the mid-1980s, PageMaker gave ordinary folks power over the appearance of their documents that they never had before. Many of them reveled in the freedom. The result was often something we called “ransom note desktop publishing.”

Suddenly you started receiving those Christmas letters from your cousin Sarah or Uncle Bill that used not one, not two, not three but many, many fonts. An artist who worked for me said they looked like “an explosion in an alphabet factory.”

Ransom Note Desktop Publishing was on purpose

People used all those fonts on purpose. They thought it was cool or fun or made them look sophisticated. That pretty much stopped when they started hearing snarky comments about the practice. Today’s self-publishing is different.

Amateur self-publishing

Today, anyone with a few free dollars and a word processor can publish a book. That’s fine, self-publishing has a long and noble history. The problem is that many self-published books look like they were created by amateurs. Even if you are an amateur, that’s not a good thing.

Remember that your book represents you to the world. So here are a few things to pay attention to.

Take the time to make your content great

Write it, revise it, and read it aloud until it makes your points and reads smoothly. Then send it to a professional editor. Good editors save us writers from ourselves. I don’t care how great a writer you are or how many English degrees you have, you need a professional editor.

Make your cover look professional

There’s nothing that shouts “Self-published!” more than a cover that looks like your kid created it with finger paint or that looks like the covers of a bunch of other books. Have a pro create a cover that represents your content to the world.

Pay attention to the inside, too

Make sure your pages look the pages of books published by professionals. Look at the type. Check out the spacing and layout.

Bottom Line

Those ransom-note-like letters and flyers came and went. But your book will be around for a long time. Make sure it represents you well.

Thanks to Ransomizer for helping create the graphic above.