I was just reading Rudy Rucker’s blog post today about his efforts to find the right font for his forthcoming self-published novel The Big Aha, and was stirred by this paragraph about fonts, page design and reading:
Getting back to my rant about font design—one bad thing that that can happen is, I think, that a book or (more often) a web page might be designed by someone who doesn’t actually read.. They want to be different and cool and hardcore and they don’t actually like text. So—they go with 9 point Arial beige type on a brown background.
I wonder if this is true about web designers or other non-text-oriented types. Many of the commercial clients I write for aren’t text- or design-oriented, until I try to diverge from their preferred Calibri text, and write a document that fits with the product being sold. I’ve had email flame wars with my clients over fonts; I actually like bolder serif fonts for the main body of the text, but sans serif fonts seem preferred for online reading, and my clients presume the final documents will be read online and not printed out.
Are, generally speaking, most people reading business documents, or for that matter other online content, not readers? Does font matter to you? Do you consider the nature of readability over legibility? What do you prefer, serif or sans-serif fonts?
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Bronk’s speciality is wildlife writing and he’s published in national magazines including Field & Stream, Camping & RV, and American Hunting.
He outlined some basics that included caveats as well as encouraging secrets to success as a freelancer:
You have chosen a difficult writing genre
In you write the manuscript first you will fail
Quality must remain high
Anybody can qualify, sex, age, abilities
Manuscript vs. query letters
Read the magazine
Put yourself in the editor’s chair
You are needed
You can predict needs
Don’t give up your day job
While some of the advice can be found in most articles or advice books on magazine writing, I liked getting a firsthand account from someone with a lot of experience.
One particular piece of advice — to query first before writing — has been on my mind lately, because I’ve been noodling around with several ideas, and I want to rush to get started, before I have any idea what to really write. Queries, Bronk said, were as important to your success as a freelance as your skill as a writer.
Other advice that he offered:
Write things that interest you
Write for free to get experience and clips
Nurture and protect your relationships with editors
Study the magazine, looking for length and type of articles
I’ve been noodling around a story idea for a freelance piece and have been wondering whether it’s better to send out queries first and then write the story, or whether it’s better to write a story and then query publications about it?