Formatting Your Novel (Best Book Size, Font Size, Page color, Matte vs Glossy Cover)

Formatting your book is possibly one of the most challenging stages in the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel. That’s because writing is one thing, but formatting is something else entirely.


Consequently, in today’s article we’ll look at all these details, from picking the right size & font for your book, to selecting the cover details (matte vs. glossy), page color & overall typesetting.


All details are important to make sure your attractive content is easy to read and appealing to the eye.


The downside for any upcoming writer who is not familiar with this side of the fence is that there’s a lot of information online, but you don’t really know what it means or how to go around it, given that you’ve never had to immerse yourself in the process of formatting or typesetting your book.


How Do I Choose The Right Size For My Novel?




Trim size, also known as book size, is the dimension of your paperback in Width & Height. It influences many factors, such as printing cost and reader appeal, so we must make sure we get that perfect fit to budget and target audience.


Your book’s genre also makes a difference when choosing the trim size, so keeping up with the trends in the writing industry is essential.


Word count is another important factor to take into consideration, you don’t want a big skinny book, you want an easy-to-grab sturdy paperback. Plump is what readers like when it comes to novels, so, once again, size matters.


I’m just going to keep it as simple as possible, due to the fact that most upcoming writers are all about letters and numbers sound and look scary. There are tons of trim sizes out there, so I’ll simplify things and take you the most popular options.


If you’re writing…


  • Fiction novels (80k – 130k) – 5.25 x 8 or 5.5 x 8.5


5.25 x 8 is my favorite size, easy to hold and really a very popular trim size throughout international libraries nowadays. It fits in your regular purse like a charm. Longer novels usually go for the 6 x 9 trim size. Novellas (short novels) are usually 5 x 8.


  • Non-Fiction – the norm is usually 6 x 9 if the book has enough “beef”.


However, do remember that big and skinny is something you should avoid, so fit the size around the word count of your novel, to get a good looking book.


There are plenty of other books such as Textbooks, Manuals, Children’s Books, Memoirs, Photography Books and they all have their popular sizes in check, nevertheless, today all my efforts are going into Novel formatting, so forgive me if I choose to skip the rest.



How Do I Choose The Right Font For My Novel And The Overall Typesetting?



Before discussing fonts I’d like to stress out the importance of Typesetting : the process of arranging the text on page, font size, margins, the harmony of words on paper. I don’t recommend using a template, because each work is individual and you want to leave no stone unturned in the process.


Please check out the 10 Typesetting Rules For Indie Authors (it’s from the Alliance Of Independent Authors and I found their post most useful).


Adobe InDesign is the most professional tool out there and the results will be fantastic, however, no one’s eyes suffered from reading a novel formatted in Word (truth be told, we all use it).


The desired font size for a novel is 11–12pts. Easy peasy!


Here are two examples of fonts you can use for your novel:



Choosing the color of your book is also fundamental for the reading experience. For Fiction and Nonfiction novels, I wholeheartedly recommend cream… for obvious reasons:


What About My Book Cover? Matte or Glossy?



Whether you decide to publish through a distribution platform like Draft2Digital (they publish your book on Apple iBooks, Kobo, Amazon, and more) or directly on Amazon’s KDP to have that initial marketing advantage, you still have to select how you present your paperback to the world.


Upon uploading your book cover, you’ll be asked: Matte or Glossy?


Right now, I’d say the trend is Matte, however, for Fiction covers which are more colorful or animated, a Glossy cover is encouraged to boost that dynamic factor and catch the eye.


Pros on Glossy: easy to wipe clean if you spill coffee on it, vibrant colors.

Cons on Glossy: scratches, indents & scuffs are easier to spot.

Pros on Matte: elegant, velvety texture, very trendy in 2019.

Cons on Matte: the color palette can appear faded, not stain-proof.


On the bright side, you’ll be able to play with this feature and make your choice once you hold a sample of both.


Like many other aspects, this too is a matter of personal preference and it will not influence sales (after all, you only see a thumbnail online). What will dictate sales is the cover of your book, so make sure you check my Guidelines To The Perfect Book Cover Design.



 Formatting Your Novel For Publishing



Now that you’ve chosen the right size for your novel, there are plenty of ways to approach formatting based on your skill. If this is your first novel, you might want to hire a professional to do it all for you, but not without knowing exactly what you want.


TIP: Especially if you’re writing under a pen name, get a PayPal account to manage all your payments (editing, formatting, etc.)


Grab a few books from your shelf and scan them a little, see what you like and what you don’t, check out the spacing between paragraphs, font size, etc.

If you still don’t feel ready to approach formatting your novel by yourself, here are some tips on where to find professionals that will do the hard work for you:


  • Your editor


Most editors will also be skilled in the art of formatting a novel, so if you worked with one on your developmental, copy-line editing or proofreading, all you have to do is ask. I’ve written an article about the Guidelines Of Working With An Editor, so you can check that out too.




The greatest thing about this competitive platform is that you can count on a speedy delivery (sometimes even less than 24 hours), all on a more-than-friendly budget. The downside of course, is trusting yet another stranger with your book, but hey, since they do this professionally, you can always check out their reviews from clients like you.


  • Goodreads


The largest reader/writer platform around is home to all the professionals in the industry. All you have to do is join a relevant group and start a discussion: ask writers for recommendations, ask professionals for a budget.


  • Publishing Platforms


Most publishing platforms such as KDP or Draft2Digital assist the author in the formatting process directly from a Word document for both ebook and paperback.


Here’s the KDP Guideline On Ebook Formatting and KDP Guideline On Paperback Formatting.


Here’s the Draft2Digital Guideline On Ebook Formatting and Draft2Digital FAQ which should answer related questions.


For more tips & tricks please sign up to my Newsletter or visit The Journey From Writing To Publishing 🙂

Are you in the Writing Industry?

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