Formatting

Leah
5 min readJun 24, 2021

The Gentle Art of Making Books Readable

I’ve gotten heavily into reading fiction recently. Just figured out that over the last four weeks, I’ve finished eight novels. And that doesn’t include the samples of books that I read, searching for the one I really wanted to read at that point.

As a writer, I tend to say that I write all over the map, that is, I don’t write stories in a single genre. I’ve written fantasy of all varieties (epic, urban, historical, etc.), science fiction, mystery, straight literary, horror, as well as non-fiction.

As a reader, I read all over the map. A lot of what I’m currently reading depends on what I’m writing. If I’m writing epic fantasy, that is the last thing I want to read is more epic fantasy. Ditto SF or mystery. I’ll read anything except what I’m currently working on.

Because I am an independent publisher, I also seek out books by other indie authors. I’ve found some absolutely lovely books and authors that way, authors who are now among my favorites.

I’ve also found some books that are not to my taste. They might be perfectly fine books, and they might be someone else’s favorite author. However, that particular story didn’t work for me.

So I’m not going to judge your book harshly based on the story. Again, that might just be a question of taste.

I will, however, judge you based on your formatting. And even when I find a story interesting, I may not finish a particular book if your formatting makes it too difficult to read.

Use Scene Break Characters

In the bad old days of traditional publishing, publishers used to just use a space to indicate a scene break. They were also dealing with paper books, not electronic books.

With an ebook, you, the indie publisher, have no idea where a page break is going to occur, because you don’t know my preferred reading font, or the size of font that I prefer. More than once, I’ve run into a scene break at the bottom of an electronic page, tap to go to the next page, and I’m suddenly reading from a different character POV, or I’ve changed locations and I’m lost. Did I miss a page? Did I miss a transition? Did I accidentally tap twice and turn two pages? So I go back, figure out that oh, that’s a scene break…

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Leah

Leah Cutter sold her first short story back in 1997, and continues to write and sell both her fiction and non-fiction. She supports herself with her writing.