Self publishing, walking your own path and following your instinct

It’s been one of those weeks of utter inspiration. It feels so good to have got the book ‘out there’ so to speak and started to share it with you. Months, years of hard work are coming together and really starting to pay off and I’m immensely excited! All that inspiration is gathering momentum which feels like it’s snowballing into an unstoppable force – let’s just hope it doesn’t hit a tree along the way!

Anyway, enough of the waffle.

Today I wanted to share an insight with you into the process behind the book and ask for your opinion. I’m kind of hoping you’ll prove my gut instinct right, but I’d love to hear if you think I’m seeing this wrong too.

The Contents page is a really important part of any book. More than a reference, it gives you a flavour into the contents of the book and what you can expect. Here’s where my unique hybrid approach of coffee-table/business book starts to go off piste (another ski reference – we are promised snow tomorrow so bear with me…).

Most business books take the more is more approach to contents pages. In fact, I’ve seen contents stretch over four, sometimes five pages just to show how much ‘value’ is in the book. They take comprehensive to a whole new level. That doesn’t sit so well with me. It feels inelegant and downmarket. Coffee table style books take the other approach, simply listing out the chapter heads and sometimes, the top level heads.

Coffee table style contents pages are usually a page and look gorgeous. But then, so they should. You’re buying coffee-table books because they are beautiful and inspiring. Their value is generally in how they look: the photography, styling, ideas etc rather than in the process in the words.

But my book does both. There’s a really, really robust process behind this book that’ll transform the way you do business; but it’s delivered in an inspirational and beautiful way. I mean, you can see my problem, can’t you?

The page you see below (Option One) is what my instinct tells me is right for the book. You’re intelligent, creative and visionary entrepreneurs. You’re buying this book because you’re excited about what it can do for you, how we get there is off less importance, right? This is my chance to draw you in, excite you and give you a flavour of what the book is about- do you love it as much as I do?

This page (Option Two), on the other hand, is a more traditional approach. It’s the safe option. Having never played it safe in my life, I’m not enamoured by this one (can you tell?!!). It feels too predictable, too boring, too ordinary. But it does give you more of an insight into what’s inside. Well, by that I mean, it tells you how we’re going to get to brand brilliance, it doesn’t necessarily give you the benefits.

I do realise that I am completely leading you down one path, but this is because I want to explain my thought process and give you the opportunity to tell me that whilst you get where I’m coming from, you prefer the alternative. Every bone in my body is telling me that option one is the best, but I would genuinely love to know what you think.

So, have your say, which Contents page should I go with? Which will sell more books?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 11-01-2017 17:01:53
End date 14-01-2017 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Which Contents page do you believe will sell more books?


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    I prefer the first option, I like the description that you have done for each section. Plus this layout is more pleasing visually.

    Dianta Weeda

    Hi Fiona,
    Can’t wait to read the second book! Thank you so much for sharing.
    I can see why you like Option One, visualy it looks great. But, I think, the potential buyer can scan the content more quickly with Option Two.
    And they will know in seconds what they can expect: clarity. That’s why I vote for Option Two! Also, Option Two looks very good. So based on the esthetics you can’t go wrong in my opinion. Good luck!


    …and I prefer the second option as it is easier to grasp the content of each chapter at a glance. It is structured and informative without looking like an off putting business manual. Sorry Fiona, I know this is not what you wanted to hear. Just follow your instincts as it has served you very well so far. Either way, your book will sell.

    Pamela Vizdos

    I do like the first option. I like the descriptor identified below the content item and page number. What a great way to flip directly to the contents and determine what section you want to peruse.

    Laura Hall Briedis

    If I was someone who didn’t read your blog and own your first book I would prefer option 2. That’s what I voted for. They’re both fine. Can’t wait to get my hands on the new book.

    Susanne Geert

    I read your post twice to be sure I got your thought process right. But I have to agree with Anouchka… I prefer version 2. I simply get the content and benefits easier.

    I see myself 100% in your target description and though I like your cursive explanation to the chapters it’s easier to grasp how I benefit from the content in version 2. And I like that for a content page…

    As mentioned by Anouchka, you should, of course, go with your instinct and your book will be beautiful no matter what.

    But when asked I must admit that all though seeing myself spot on in your target description, I prefer version 2.

    Fiona Humberstone

    I totally get it Susanne. Thank you. It’s interesting because someone pointed out on Instagram that it’s left brain vs right brain! I think I will probably go with my gut – it just feels wrong to list everything out and doesn’t work with the sentiment in the book I think but I totally, totally value your thoughts.

    Marco Stephano Wilbrink

    Hi Fiona, pondering I prefer option 1, as I am value led, (brand is defined by people’s identity/ personality/ values etc), let people be intrigued, give them a taste, invite them into the branding journey, you don’t have to reveal everything at once, let them go with you (option 2 is more independent, readers can go straight to the section they want, while option 1 is an invitation, it gives you as author more of a lead, more of a mystery…) for option 1 I have send you some minor visual layout adjustments/ suggestions in image format to your email, see what you think..
    option 2 I do feel is too predictable, too boring, too ordinary, …playing safe/ traditional is not always good as it makes us not stand out/ comfortable… risk is more adventurous.. but hey that’s what I think…

    Your phrases “Every bone in my body is telling me that” “Having never played it safe in my life” “What my instinct tells me is right” “It gives you a flavour into the contents” “That doesn’t sit so well with me”… sounds clear this is your personality, let it shine! This is what will sell more because its your authentic you, that is what people made to connect with you in the first place, the book will sell, …the balance of visual, content and inspiration I think you strike really well

    Another thought as suggestion but you can dismiss of course: have you considered 3 columns with each a top header with underneath your subsections, maybe more a rhythm…
    Part One/ Brand Clarity
    Part Two/ Brand Brilliance
    Part Three/ Brand Bonding? (just reflecting of what an appropriate title could be 😉

    Thank you for allowing us in your thought process and sharing!

    Hope it helps,


    Hi Fiona. Your new book looks great. No doubt, I prefer option 1. Much more inspiring and original. It invites you to read non-stop.
    I feel excited about your publication. Thank you for sharing your feeling and process. Good luck!



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