I’m here with another one of my bite size training sessions for budding authors. This is part of the series of eight questions to ask yourself as a speaker before you publish your first book. This is point number six. I’m going to ask you here how do your readers need to use your book.

I’m just thinking specifically here about printed books in this series because there’s a lot of significance to the size and type of book that you choose.

Let me explain.

Let’s think about where are people going to be learning your material in your book.

Imagine you’re at home and you’re learning something that’s quite interactive. There’s

  • some processes to follow
  • some things to fill out in the book

The best style for this information would be more like a workbook. Think about a kid’s workbook for school, where they might learn about history or physics, that style of book, where you read something then have some questions and exercises. Those are typiically formatted as a large full-size book, so that when it’s open, it stays flat, when it’s being used. The reader has got plenty of room to write and they’re not fighting with the curve of spine of the book. It’s a great format for  readers.

Equally with cookery books, there’s nothing worse than when you’re making something and you’ve just got your hands covered in gunge in a bowl… and you see the book slowly closing itself up. You just don’t want that happening with the recipe book. You want a big, flat, hardback cookery book  that tends to stay in position when opened.

Think a bit about how people are going to be using your book, and make sure you choose a format that’s going to work with them and not against them.

Equally, if I was on a train and I’m reading a book to keep myself entertained, I would not want a massive coffee table book that needs to be opened really wide and it’s crashing into other travellers’s newspapers and things. I don’t want that. I want a small book to read on the train, so I’m not elbowing other people out of the way.

Imagine an author writing a book that people might use on holiday, perhaps a travel guide or a phrase book, they’d want a small book that they could fit in a pocket, so they can just get it out when they need it.

If it starts to rain when the reader is out and about, it doesn’t matter. The book can be put safe and dry in a pocket. They can carry on enjoying their holiday, enjoying the experience and not worrying about damaging their book.

You might want to think take a moment to think about that with your book –  how your readers will use it outside or on the move.

Perhaps someone’s writing a book about “dating tips for shy guys”. Readers might want to keep the book in their pocket. I doubt shy people would want others seeing the front cover and being able to read all the text on it. Readers of this type of self-help book just want to discreetly refer to it and put it away,  without any fuss. That’s another reason you might want to choose a smaller book – being sympathetic to their situation and protecting their privacy.

This is again coming back to

  • how do people want to use the information
  • what’s the best way to format and present it
  • how and where will they be learning
  • how are they interacting with the book
  • are readers looking at it for a long time or often but for shorter periods of time

Bear that in mind when you’re coming up with your book format.

Don’t just take the format that the self-publishing company gives you… “we always do this standard, US trade size book” or whatever it is they’re telling you.

Think about the end user and create the perfect book for them because they’ll love you more for it when you do it that way.

You might want to think about supporting formats as well.

As I mentioned in another video, you might want to put a DVD in with your book, or a disk with data, or perhaps downloadable document templates  you store on a website ready for your readers.

Can you give some supporting formats in with the book to help people understand? Think about that when you’re planning it out.

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