Sunday, August 20, 2023

Why Book Size Matters

By Terry Whalin 

Our growth as writers and authors is a combination of experience, learning about the marketplace then putting what we learn into practice. In this article Im writing about a detail of publishing which can be easily overlooked yet can be significant for your book and how you use it. Im going to tell you why your book size matters.

Recently a publishing friend reached out to ask me about this size detail. She heard me talk about it but didnt recall the specifics. Ive written in the past about how your word count affects the size and acceptance of your book with publishers. Follow this link to read this information if you havent. Space is limited in every bookstore and most books are spine out in the bookstore. Your book has to be large enough to take your space inside the bookstore (provided you have a way to even get your books into that space).

Some authors will not be able to do anything about the size of their finished book because they are publishing with traditional houses. Whether true or not, these traditional houses do not include the author as they plan the size of the book because whether right or wrong, they believe they know these details better than the author and there is no need to include them in the decision process. Education and knowledge is a key part of the publishing process. When you learn this detail, you may be able to have some influence on your own books during the production process--at least that is my hope and why Im writing this article. 

In the area of adult books, there are two common sizes: 6 x 9 and 5 1/2 x 8 1/2. If you do get a chance to discuss and influence this book production element, I prefer the slightly smaller size of 5.5 x 8.5. My reason is “unusual.” The smaller size will pack perfectly into the free priority mail boxes from the US postal service. The larger size does not pack as well in this process.  

This detail is important if you ship boxes of books because there is a flat rate priority mail box. There are different types of priority mail boxes and to get the best rate, make sure you get the right one). Then you can pile your books tightly into these containers and get the maximum use from them. The other reason that I prefer this smaller size related to my frequent travel to conferences. 

When I travel to a conference, I often have the opportunity sell some books in the bookstore. In my carry on bag, I will put two of these priority mail boxes and pack them with my books. Because they fit perfectly into these boxes, with no extra effort, the books arrive in pristine shape and no bent or damaged covers. 

Admittedly this size decision seems small but it can have big implications for your future if you dont consider it. 
this small decision can be significant later on. These small details are important as you create, market then sell your book. What other details are important to know about during the production process? Let me know in the comments below.


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