I’ll admit it.
I judge based on looks.
I was given a book around Christmas time. After a quick flip through, I winced. The book was blatantly self-published.
Now, I’m not saying I’m a pro when it comes to book publishing—far from it. Everything I know, I’ve learned through self-study. But even to my untrained eye, some things stood out. The book, which I have yet to read, has a mix of serif and sanserif fonts within the body. That’s a bit jarring for a genre novel. I’m sure the writer/publisher had a reason for this, but my immediate reaction was distaste and rejection, along with an embarrassed thought of “this is why people snub self-published books.”
Yes, I am a snob.
I’ve spent this past week studying typography, and I’ve come across a wonderful resource. I pass on to you Butterick’s Practical Typography. It’s an online book and it’s given me some new perspective, which really shouldn’t have hit me as hard as it did.
Attention is the reader’s gift to you. That gift is precious. And finite. And should you fail to be a respectful steward of that gift—most commonly, by boring or exasperating your reader—it will be promptly revoked.
Source: Matthew Butterick, http://practicaltypography.com/why-does-typography-matter.html
Okay, boring and exasperating my reader has to do with the writing, right? So how will typography make me a better writer?
Good typography can help your reader devote less attention to the mechanics of reading and more attention to your message. Conversely, bad typography can distract your reader and undermine your message.
Which is exactly what my gifted book did to me. It distracted me.
If you’re going at self-publishing on your own, definitely read Butterick’s book before you do. Butterick compares typography to job interviews, where applying bad typography to your writing is like dressing inappropriately for a job interview.
What about you? Have you come across any books or articles where what you see is detrimental to what you’re trying to read?