I’ve been giving some thought lately as to just how much size matters. (Regarding fonts, gutter-brain!)

There are many details to consider when publishing. One of them is typesetting, particularly what font to use. Not just for readability, but also for the tone of the book. For Gospel for the Damned, I chose the font Georgia. I wanted something “journalistic,” but it seemed New Times Roman was a bit ubiquitous and flat; Georgia, I felt, did the trick. With The Quieting West, I used Garamond, which has a nice classic look to it, and for the chapter headings, I used Harrington to create a sense of nostalgia.

When I transitioned to publishing with Ingram, something I didn’t consider, however, was the size of the type, as designated by their “point.” The paperback versions of both books is 12-point in size; a common and readable size. Yet, for reasons I can’t quite recall, I went with a slightly larger type – 14-point – for the hardcover editions. You wouldn’t think 2 points could matter much. Yet, to me, it made a huge difference!

Here’s a sentence from The Quieting West, to illustrate. The first could be considered 12-point. The second, 14:

“Keeping the memory of others is a responsibility that comes with living as long as I have, I guess.”

“Keeping the memory of others is a responsibility that comes with living as long as I have, I guess.”

Simply put, the 14-point looks huge to me, like the “large print” used for the sight-challenged, or a primer for preschoolers. It also looks less professional to me, as though it were – god forbid! – self-published.

Next time you’re in a book store peruse the stacks and check out font sizes. See if you don’t agree that the more “serious” the literature, the smaller the type. While larger, bolder type seems to be reserved for lighter, less important fare.

Not that any of that should matter, right? It’s the content, of course, that determines a book’s “importance.” As a writer and a reader, I’m perfectly aware that a book’s appearance is of little concern. It doesn’t really matter.

Yet, as a publisher, it does matter! At first, anyway. I have to grab a potential reader’s attention. How else are they going to choose my book from the hundreds of others peering from the shelves!

So, I hire the best cover designer I can. I write a blurb and use reviewer quotes that, hopefully, entice and lure a buyer to pick up my novel and open it. And as they thumb the pages, I’d rather they saw this:

“It was an opportunity that would make my career or crumble it,”

Rather than:

“It was an opportunity that would make my career or crumble it,”

My choices at this point are:

1.) If you don’t like, fix it. Too costly, in time and money.

2.) Stop whining. Get over it. Yes, yes. In reality, rather than my own skewed (and I do mean skewed) perception, it’s really not that bad.

Then again, if I ever do a 2nd Edition…

Gordon Gravley