The other night I sat on one end of the sofa with a pile of picture books from the library. I needed to find a book for my review blog, Bookshelf.
I read a few pages in a picture book about how cars work. When I got to the spread on the internal combustion engine, I read it and then read it again. Something felt off. I showed it to my husband who has rebuilt and installed an engine, replaced numerous gaskets, and more. The author hadn’t communicated clearly how the firing in the pistons powers the car.
I sat that book aside.
The next one was a science book that I had been looking forward to reading for some time. Early in the book I came across a non-linear timeline. I can deal with non-linear but this cluttered up the spread and created a super-dense, almost unreadable graphic. It was just too much information. On another spread, the illustration ran into the gutter with an important element lost way down in the crease. Add to this paper that was so thin that you could view adjoining spreads through what you were trying to read. This book also went back into the library bag.
As you study the publishers that you might approach, be sure to check out actual copies of their books. You don’t want to get your own author’s copies only to be disappointed. Things that I look at include:
Paper. It doesn’t need to look like a posh wedding invitation but I don’t want to see through it. Or see lots of inclusions or whatever you call flakes of whatever.
Book design. I want a font that is easy to read, graphics that stay out of the gutters, and enough white space to keep me from feeling overwhelmed.
Font. Yes, I discussed this above and I’m mentioning it again. Some fonts are easy to scan — Times New Roman is one of them. Others make reading a lot of work. I want my reader to focus on the story, not struggling to read the font.
Illustrations. This is another big one for me. They need to be big enough to be clear. But if they are using a pixilated image, it has to be some enough that I’m not looking at dots. No dots.
I have to admit that Schoolwise and Abdo have both spoiled me with top-notch book design. But isn’t that what you deserve? Find a publisher that will spoil you, then submit your work.