I was talking to an author this morning, as I do most mornings. We were discussing book formatting. Although as an author, it may seem that you should be able to choose completely the format of your book without worrying about how it will be perceived, it’s important to know what you are choosing and what those choices indicate to your potential readers.
I’m all for going out on a limb and mixing things up, not sticking with the status quo and if author decide that more power to them, but if you don’t know that you are going out on a limb and are breaking certain genre formatting expectations, then you run the risk of losing potential readers because like it or not, the book cover, or book format is your reader’s first interaction with your writing. Readers always judge books by their covers. And in that split-second judgement, they decide whether to pick it up off the shelf or keep browsing. In that split-second, your format has said more than your words ever will.
I know, I don’t like it either, but as a writer and potential author, you are joining the ranks of many people who have gone before you. Authors, like Dr. Seuss, who have made portrait 8.5 x 11 picture books whimsical and full of fantasy.
Don’t forget who has gone before you in the writing world. When you decide you want to be different, do it purposefully, knowing full and well that you are breaking formatting.