How to Self-Publish Large-Print Books
[Disclaimer: I’m just starting out in this. I will update this as I learn more. It could be that I’m mistaken in some of the following guidelines. Feel free to do your own research and draw your own conclusions. If your personal experience with large-print books contradicts anything written here, I hope you’ll feel free leave your recommendations in the comments.]
Ever since Eibhlin MacIntosh posted an article about her experiences with publishing her books as large-print editions (in addition to paperback and digital editions), I’d been waiting for the opportunity to do the same.
So now I am experimenting with publishing large-print books.
I did some research and, as usual, there is contradictory information regarding the best way to format your large-print edition, so I’m giving it my best shot.
I’ll post some links at the end if you want to start your own research.
But anyway, here is how I’m doing it and what I’ve learned:
Who Reads Large-Print Books?
Why Publish Large-Print Editions?
Large-Print Edition Requirements
This is where the contradictory information comes in.
For example, some experts say to use a sans-serif font (sans-serif fonts don’t have the little “legs” that serif fonts do).
Examples of sans-serif: Arial, Open Sans, Verdana
Yet others say to use only serif fonts (like Times New Roman or Georgia or Garamond). Yet others say that studies are inconclusive regarding which type of font (serif vs. sans serif) is preferable for the vision-impaired. Furthermore, this group even created a typeface called Tiresias based on their research into needs of vision-impaired readers. (As you can see, the font is bolder than average and is sort of between serif and sans serif.) In addition, most say the font size should be 16 pt. (and no lower), but Eibhlin successfully sells her large-print editions using Georgia 18 pt.
But this is what my research turned up about large-print formatting:
And my shorter book, Jews: Stuff You Always Wanted to Know But Didn’t Know Who to Ask, went from 120 pages to around 163 pages at 6x9 with Garamond 16 pt. and 177 pages with Georgia 18 pt. With Jews, I only needed to raise the price by a dollar or two, but with Yaelle, I needed to raise the price by several dollars.
But again, Eibhlin uses this size and feels it sells well.
So I guess this depends on the needs of your large-print readership.
Eibhlin successfully uses Georgia 18 pt., while other booksellers use Times New Roman 16 pt., and still others use the specially designed font mentioned above Tiresias (click on LPfont for Large Print books).
I contacted the UK-based Large Print Bookshop, which bills itself as the leading large-print bookshop and Mr. Guy Garfit was kind enough to reply clearly and promptly to my questions.
He states the following:
Interior Formatting for Large-Print Editions
This is where it gets fun. People with impaired vision can sometimes only see two words at a time, whether they are holding up a large-print page close to their face or using magnifier or OCR software. Any formatting that reduces clarity needs to go. Many self-publishers despise interior formatting, so this is a big relief. Basically, you only need to worry about page numbers and hyphens.
In other words, off with your headers!
Regular Print Example: He looks like a drunken rhinoceros, she thought.
Large-Print Example #1: “He looks like a drunken rhinoceros,” she thought.
Large-Print Example #2 (completely unformatted): He looks like a drunken rhinoceros, she thought.
I’ve seen all three used in regular-size print books, although italics are certainly the most acceptable option for regular books.
And what are the chances of any of my books being used in a classroom, anyway?
But just in case you need it, I included it here anyway.
See the Clear Print Guidelines for some instructions and good examples.
Note: However you format the large-print interior, you will need to go through it or hire someone to go through it to double-check that the hyphens and page-breaks, etc., work out according to large-print specifications. That is the pain-in-the-neck part of formatting for large-print.
Publishing with Createspace
Okay, this is where things get complicated again, but not impossibly so.
First of all, your large-print book is considered a whole new and different book in need of its own ISBN number. So you have to go through the Createspace process again, which isn’t so horrible, but there are other annoyances ahead.
Black text on white paper or cream paper?
Some large-print readers prefer black text on white paper while others find that contrast too strong and prefer black text on cream paper. At the larger sizes, Createspace does not allow you to use cream paper, so if you’re using the larger sizes, feel free to just use white.
I am sorry to say it, but you need to redo your cover for large print.
It depends on the size difference between your original book and the large-print edition.
You can have something on the cover that labels it as a large-print edition. Many publishers use a white disc or medallion for this while others use a semi-transparent banner spanning the top or bottom of the book. You can do this in Word, Open Office, Photoshop, Canva, Fiverr, or through your original cover designer (if you have one).
While most professional publishers seem to use a white disc, it seems that some use no front-cover large-print label at all.
But whatever symbol you use should read Large-Print Edition.
I hope you found this information helpful.
Summary of Handy Resources for Large-Print Publishing
Large Print Bookshop
(This is a helpful guide put together by experienced professionals in the business of large print and where I encountered the courteous and helpful Mr. Garfit. You can also browse their selection and see how it’s done with regard to covers, pricing, weight, thickness, and length.)
Round Table Guidelines for Producing Clear Print
(This was especially thorough and helpful.)
Eibhlin’s Personal Experience with Large-Print Publishing
Go Large Print! | eibhlin, writing
I always love her.
Tiresias :: Fonts :: Free downloads
They also have several articles on their site about vision impairment and research.
This is where you can get a book cover template any size you want. For a reasonable price, you can also have your book auto-formatted in the typeface and font size you need along with other nice bells and whistles. However, at the time I used it, the auto-formatting was more liberal with hyphens than a large-print book should be. But maybe that has been resolved by now. Anyway, its Australian owner, Steve, is extremely courteous and helpful if you run into any bugs. (And you can also hire his personal formatting services.)
Have you self-published large-print books? How did you do it and how did it work out for you? Based on your experiences either as a reader or a self-publisher of large-print books, do you agree or disagree with the above guidelines?
Please feel free to leave your recommendations and experiences in the comments.