My Adventure in Self-Publishing: Curse All These Fonts!

fontI am haunted by fonts.  While the characters in MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE are haunted by ghosts and other demonic surprises, I am haunted by the way an “a” can curve, and what each letter may or may not say about my story.

Yes, I have lost days, weeks, debating with myself the right kind of font to use for the book I am self-publishing. It has gotten so bad that some of the fonts are starting to take on personalities for me. For example:

  • Times New Roman is the preppy know-it-all in school. The one you would swear at under your breath when they get a better grade than you.
  • Verdana thinks it is mysterious (it is not).
  • Palatino would dot its i’s with hearts if it could. It is that overly cute.
  • Calibri… well… it is just dumb.
  • Arial is a pampering old grandmother with stale hard candy in a dusty bowl.  Yes, the best intentions are there, but you don’t want to eat them. Ew.

I’ve changed my manuscript again and again trying to find the one that best captures my book. Now the book is a Victorian period mystery (of course, that is not without including the experimental twists in it), so a font that feels a little dated would be nice. Yet, I don’t want to go too much in that regards. I don’t want to drive readers away as if they can feel the dust on the font and story.

Finally, after going back and forth and back and forth, I’ve latched on to Georgia. It’s a nice font that seems to walk the line between classic and modern. I’ve also decided to use it as a size 10 font. Now, it would have been fine as a size 12, but the book is so fast-paced, I thought having more on a page was better for the reader. So I am ending up with now a book that should be about 330 pages being about 281 pages.

That doesn’t seem so bad.

I’m also using Cezane font for the first letter in each chapter, and to represent the narrator’s signature. It adds a nice artistic look, I believe.

Okay, I need to stop thinking about this… Georgia is all right, right? I mean, it is okay?… Okay, don’t answer that. Moving on!

Other than the font, I’m having trouble letting go of the manuscript. Since this is being self-published, my fear is that it will come off looking unprofessional. I’m using CreateSpace and so far I am happy with the process. They are making this easy with videos and templates. The manuscript I am editing is now in the correct format, but I am agonizing over every sentence, every word, every comma.

Writing on Your TermsMy editor Rebecca T. Dickson (who just published a book filled with great writing advice called WRITING ON YOUR TERMS. You can check it out and buy it on her site via this link), has done a bang-up job in her review of the book.  This is just me the perfectionist being the perfectionist.

See, I keep thinking back to the different self-publishing books I have reviewed in the past. When a writer doesn’t go through this stress, a reader knows.

Seriously, writers, let me say this again, a reader always knows.

And the last thing I want to have happen is to have a reader who is in the mad world I have created in this book losing their suspension of disbelief because I used there instead of their or something, or a sentence doesn’t say exactly what I meant for it to say. Granted, my editor caught most of these issues already, which is why I will argue for every writer to use an editor (Seriously, contact Rebecca), but I still worry.

Maybe that is me? The Charlie Brown of writing. Worried about fonts and spellings and commas when I should just run and kick the damn football…. Okay, Charlie and the football was the wrong reference to make.

Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, CoverOne thing I was able to do was lock down the covers. I worked with freelance cover artist Brina Williamson who made the back and front cover for me. (You can visit her site and learn more about what she can do for you here. Also, she wrote an editorial about working with me on the cover! You can read that via this link.) She has been a joy to work with and has even helped by working on something else for the book, giving me an image of the title for the inside cover, and creating three different examples of the binding title for me.

That is just awesome. And definitely took some pressure off of me. I want this book to look as professional as possible and Brina’s work is doing that for me. I really can’t wait until I can hold a finished copy of the book, mainly for seeing the art around it.

It is going to be beautifully gothic.

Okay, now what about the author image?

MeMy brother, Adam Emperor Southard, is a professional headshot photographer in Los Angeles.  For example, he did my author image for A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM which is to the right. I plan to use the same image for the inside back cover of MAXIMILIAN.

Anyway, Adam has really stepped up to help me with some of the finalizing around the book. (Did I mention I am not very tech savvy?) While CreateSpace has useful templates for the writer, I still can be kind of limited.

Here is a link to his site if you are in Los Angeles and need a photographer. (The site is filled with his work and artistic projects. Check it out.)

It is not a bad thing I am slowing down the process on locking this book in. My new novel A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM was released last week and it is taking up a lot of my time and energy; if you are a follower of this site, or my official Facebook page, or my Twitter account, you don’t need me to tell you that.

Frankly, I love the book and I want everyone to read it. And I will do anything I can to make the work a hit. Seriously, if a devil appeared in front of me right now with a contract, I would sign.

Good soul, going once!… going twice…

Damn.

Anyway, I’ve been doing interviews, sharing excerpts, etc., and having a second book sneak into the market at the same time would hurt the marketing probably around one of them.

Recently, A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM had a book giveaway on Good Reads (There is another going on through May 12 on English Historical Authors, which you can enter here). 1172 people entered the giveaway! So, as you can imagine, I want to do the same for MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH.

Now I don’t feel confident yet in starting up the giveaway (or even locking down a release date) until I have ordered a proof copy of the book from CreateSpace, but for the giveaway to make an impact I would need for it to be out there for 30 days. So what does that mean? MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH released in late June? It is quite a jump from my original guess of late May, but it seems like a good idea to help the book.

Hopefully, by pushing it back I can find some options for initial reviews of the book that can appear around the release. I plan to use the PDF version of the manuscript (that I have to give to CreateSpace for the printing) as the copy to share with initial reviewers. The trick is just finding those that might be interested.

And just like with A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, I plan to write a series of articles on this site describing my inspiration around MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH. So be prepared for articles on Sherlock Holmes and Scooby Doo in the future… Yeah, I just wrote the words Scooby Doo.

Okay… okay, I need to take a breath. I’m still locking down the book and my editing. I need to think of this one step at a time. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Manuscript, proof… then giveaway and find reviewers.

It sounds logical, right? Yet, why do I keep thinking of those moments in movies when the heroes take a deep breath because they think everything is okay, and then the monster attacks!

There is no self-publishing monster, right?

Right???

If you liked reading my article, why not check out some of my published books? I’ve had three novels published in the last few years, the new A Jane Austen Daydream, My Problem With Doors and Megan. You can find them via my amazon.com author page here, or Doors and Megan as an eBook on Google eBooks here.  Thanks for reading!

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13 responses

  1. I get anxious over the same issues you write about in your article. The ellipses is my nemesis of the week. I’ve also been known to type a word or phrase in the find bar to see just how many times I’ve used it. This leads to editing and more editing. It drives me crazy, but then, I couldn’t imagine my life without writing, so I continue on even as the . . . irritates and the find bar winks invitingly.

  2. I worry over the same issues you write about in this article. The ellipses is my nemesis of the week. I’ve also been known to type a word or phrase in the find bar to see just how many times I used it. This leads to editing and more editing. It drives me crazy, but then, I couldn’t imagine my life without writing, so I continue on even as the . . . irritates and the find bar winks invitingly.

    • I use ellipses personally for speech. In a way, I view dialogue like one would write in a play (I have a background in screenplays and radio drama). It can drive some readers nuts, but I do try to recreate stuttering, incomplete sentences, new thoughts, etc. Ellipses help with that. It’s always in the later editing that I need to make the tough calls, cutting what needs to be cut.

      Cheers!

  3. You’ll be fine. No worries. I have loads of faith in you. All normal concerns. And as a self-pubber, you have the ability to fix mistakes.

  4. I’m glad you stayed away from most of those fonts. (>^-‘)> Times New Roman is squished and there’s too much baggage with its ubiquity. Sans-serifs should never never never be used for an interior typeface, so Calibri, Verdana, and Arial are out. Don’t discount Palatino, though – its width and low weight make it extremely legible and easy on the eyes, it has a classic look, and its italics are particularly pleasant.

    But Georgia isn’t a bad choice (although I might widen the tracking a smidge for added readability).

    As far as mechanical issues go, remember that a professional editor is a professional editor, whether working for you or a publishing house, so it should be on par with any of your commercially published books!

  5. Awwww I like Calibri 😀 I think it’s because Word automatically started in Times New Roman for so long that, now it’s switched to Calibri, it’s kind of new and exciting 😀 Georgia’s a pretty font – I could see that working really well!

  6. Pingback: Book Giveaway, Author Interview, Review and Hello to My 602 Blog Followers! A Friday Writing Roundup. | The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

  7. Georgia is a great all-purpose reading font. Century Schoolbook and Garamond are good too, depending on the project. I also like Book Antiqua.

    Loved your take on the high school personalities of those fonts. Especially Times New Roman.

  8. Pingback: Best Moment Award – marthareynoldswrites

  9. I’ve been searching fontsquirrel.com this weekend. They do make you slightly insane after awhile. But I’ll admit that I like Calibri. It’s simple without being plain and is easy to read. I wrote my book in Courier because every agent submission demanded it. I hate that font. You’re progress is exciting to read, though! The care and professionalism you want to show IS showing already.

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