For a while now, I’ve toyed with the idea of making a Mass-market Paperback edition of Johnny Came Home.
I wanted a smaller trim size.
Johnny Came Home was my first book. It was originally released as a Trade Paperback (7 x 10) because I thought the larger size kind of called back to a comic book or graphic novel and because it significantly reduced the number of pages in the book. The latter was very important because Createspace ramps up my cost by the number of pages.
However, as I began publishing more books, Johnny Came Home stood out as the only book in the Trade paperback trim size.
I wanted to see if a smaller 6 x 9 edition was feasible. The honest answer is “Sort of.”
The New Cover
The good news is that I’ve also taken the opportunity to change the cover design. I really love this new cover! Odd enough, I was looking back through my records and I actually considered this same basic cover design back in 2014 but went with the blue DNA cover instead. I honestly have no idea why. This one is so much better!
Designing a Mass-Market Paperback
There were a couple of factors to consider when designing the Mass-market edition. All of them have to do with the fact that Createspace charges by the page. Unless, I just wanted to offer a smaller trim size of Johnny Came Home at the same exact price (or more), I needed to reduce pages.
I did a little research and it turns out that all true Mass-market editions have a few things in common:
- Smaller font size. I had to reduce the font size, but not so much that it became a chore to read. Initially, that smaller trim size (6 x 9) resulted in about 80 extra pages over the original 7 x 10 trim size. Most true Mass-market paperbacks are designed to be cheaper to print to make them more affordable to readers. TO READERS. Reducing the font size is one of the most effective ways to reduce pages, but you can only go so far. I could have reduced my font size to 10 (rather than taking it down one notch from the typical 12) and ended up with a book of about 300 pages, but who would be able to read it?? Or even want to?
- Reduce unnecessary spaces. Most books have blank pages, primarily to keep chapter beginnings on the right-hand page. Some Mass-market books eliminate those blank pages and just let the chapters begin on whatever page they happen to fall on. In a market increasingly dominated by ebooks (which typically lack even page breaks between chapters), the right-hand chapter beginning is becoming more and more an out-dated print convention. Unfortunately, I am already ahead of the curve in that regard, so I couldn’t eliminate blank pages that way. On the other hand, I was able to reduce the book length a bit by trimming down the space above each new chapter beginning. Most books allow for up to a third of a page of space between the top of the page and the heading (“i.e., Chapter 1”). Ebooks don’t have any at all, unless you count the spacing you should have built into your heading style (If you’re not using your format styles in Word [e.g. Normal, Heading 1, etc.], you’re making your ebook creation a big, fat chore). I simply reduced that space to something much smaller and lost a few pages that way.
- Reduce the front matter. There are several parts of a books front matter that are unnecessary. A Foreword or Author’s Note. In most cases, a Publisher’s Note is likewise extraneous. Acknowledgements and the Dedication can be moved to the same page. And then there’s the Table of Contents. You don’t actually need it. The story gets told without it just fine and if you lose your place, that’s what bookmarks are actually for. The Table of Contents is a convenience. A Mass-market paperback is not a luxury car with a lot of extras. But no, I didn’t cut that out.
- Reduce the back matter even more. A lot of us put ads for other books, excerpts from those books, and little extras for our readers in the back matter. The only thing you need is that About the Author page that reminds the reader who wrote the book and directs them to his author website to buy the next one.
Something that doesn’t matter any more than it usually does:
- Illustrations. Illustrations only drive up the cost of a book in terms of Color versus Black and White. Color pages on Createspace are ridiculously overpriced. To give you an idea of how skewed the pricing is, I would have to charge $38.00 to make a mere 25¢ royalty off each Mass-Market copy of Johnny Came Home!
So I did all of that and I came out with a slightly stripped-down 6 x 9 trim paperback that I can offer at $9.99 instead of $12.95, giving readers a $3 discount and a book that fits nicely on their shelves with the rest of my works.
The new Mass-market paperback edition will be available very shortly. Within the week, in fact. If you were looking to purchase the original Trade Paperback size version, you may want to do so quickly, because I will be phasing it out within the next few months.