Hi, I’m MK Williams, an author and independent publisher. I love sharing my insights about all things self-publishing with you. Before I get into the details about today’s topic, don’t forget to subscribe. You’ll be notified when I put out new videos every week about self-publishing and make a career out of being an author.
I mainly get this question from my clients who are looking to publish non-fiction books. For the most part, works of fiction like novels don’t have images in them. Children’s books yes, but that is probably a whole ‘nother series of videos on that genre alone. Maybe for your high fantasy novel you want to have a map or some kind of rune, that might work and my tips that I’ll discuss today would apply. The same for a mystery when you want to show a clue because describing it in words might give something away. But for the most part this isn’t something that fiction authors think of.
Non-fiction authors on the other hand LOVE their graphics. And, in some cases for good reason. If a chart or table or diagram will illustrate a point then it can be very powerful. Or maybe a Venn diagram will showcase the point they are trying to make. Other times I find that they are converting blog posts into book chapters and they really really like that picture. Then we talk about what is and isn’t needed.
Just like every word of your book has to pay rent, it has to earn its place there, the same goes for graphics. They should be there to enhance, not as a crutch.
Here are the top things I always encourage authors to consider when they are starting their first drafts when it comes to simple graphics or images in their books. My main recommendation is that they need to consider the primary formats/medium:
Print – unless you plan to have the book printed on bright white paper because there will be many full-color interior pages (which is very expensive), you are likely going to have a black and white interior on cream. That means your graphic needs to look good in grayscale and should err on the side of being lighter instead of darker because it will use less ink.
Digital – for eBooks, while that graphic may be legible on a tablet or large Kindle or Nook, how is it going to show up on an eReader app like the Kindle App or Libby? You need to make sure the graphic is simple and clean so it can easily be read even on a teeny tiny screen.
Audio – I have mentioned this in some of my audiobook videos for authors as well, but any visual elements in your book the listener won’t be able to see when they listen to this format. Not only will you have to chance the wording from “as you can see on page XYZ” to “a chart in this chapter demonstrates ABC, you can review it at mywebsite/shortlink” but you need to decide how difficult it is going to be to describe this graphic. Is it a pie chart or a bar chart? What about a table? Really think through how you would describe this image or content in audio format.
Okay, so what are the graphics you are thinking about adding to your book? What issues have you had with images embedded in your manuscript? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below.
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