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6 Ways to Make Your Book More Interesting without Writing More

I’ve been working on some lessons for the Book Mapping™️ curriculum and I’m on the lesson where we talk about some fun ways to create more engaging books (both fiction and nonfiction) and make your book more interesting and worth reading.

I’ve been scurrying around my house looking for books I can use as photo examples and I thought you might like a list of some easy ways to increase reader engagement, too.

There are so many ways you can break up the text of your book to keep readers’ interest and make your book more interesting. Pull Quotes. Callouts. Interest Visuals. Data Visuals. Epigraphs. Chapter Summaries, and more! We’ll talk about some of them today.

Pull Quotes Break Up Large Swathes of Text to Make Your Book More Interesting

The first thing you’ll want to start thinking about are pull-quotes.

Pull quotes add visual interest to pages full of a lot of text, and they create visual interest that keeps readers engaged. You’ll want to vary their length and placement from one chapter to the next for variety. Don’t overdo it!

  • You can use pull quotes to highlight key ideas, inspiring quotes, or interesting statistics that you want readers to remember. Good candidates for pull quotes are sentences that capture the overall “essence” of a section of the text—the ultimate, underlying idea.
  • Put your pull quotes in the margins near the related passages in the text. Make sure they don’t break up the flow of a paragraph. Use wide margins to ensure readability. Don’t let your pull quotes span more than one page unless they are truly too long.
  • You can design pull quotes with larger, eye-catching fonts to draw your readers’ attention. It’s best to change the font from the body text to make them stand out and to show intentionality.

Well-chosen pull quotes allow readers to skim and get a quick overview of key takeaways. They act like mini previews highlighting main ideas.

Example of Pull Quotes from The Writer's Guide to Beginnings by Paula Munier.
Example of Pull Quotes from The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings by Paula Munier.
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Callouts

Next up are Callouts.

You’ll use Callouts to share stories that are separate from the lesson, highlight surprising statistics, or other key facts you want readers to remember. Callouts should reveal something unexpected or impactful.

  • Position callouts in sidebars or text boxes near their related passages. This separates them from the body text visually and makes them stand out to your reader. You can use borders, background colors or icons to further differentiate them.
  • Design eye-catching callouts featuring the key statistic or fact in a large, bold font. The goal is for the number or phrase to jump off the page.
  • Callouts allow readers to skim and easily glean need-to-know information. Strategically place them so they act as mini summaries amplifying your main points. Vary the shape, size and style of your callouts from chapter to chapter to make your book more interesting.

Callouts are a great way to keep readers engaged, page-by-page. Here’s an example from the book Burnout by Emily Nagoski, PhD, and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, and another example from Wonderbook by Jeff Wheeler.

Epigraphs

Epigraphs are short quotes or sayings at the beginning of books or chapters within a book and their purpose is to signify a theme within the following content. They’re a wonderful way to make your book more interesting.

Here are some tips for using epigraphs effectively:

  • You’ll want to choose evocative quotes from prominent authors, thinkers, or historical figures that relate to your book’s themes. The quotes should set the stage for what’s to come.
  • Be sure to position epigraphs at the start of chapters or sections. They act as previews for what’s coming and help to anchor readers into the following text.
  • Design your epigraphs by placing the quote first in its own styled text box before the attribution. Make them stand out from body text.
    They should stand out for your reader to indicate their importance in the narrative and educational flow.

You can include a mix of thought-provoking, inspirational and emotive short quotes as epigraphs. If this makes sense for your book, definitely consider adding them, but don’t try to shoehorn epigraphs in if they don’t fit. If they’re a good fit, they’ll make your book more interesting.

Example of Epigraphs from The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
Example of Epigraphs from The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

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Chapter Summaries = Making Your Book More Interesting & Memorable!

Next up are Chapter Summaries, which are a great way to help readers remember what they’ve read so they feel like your book was worth reading.

Chapter summaries give a brief overview of key ideas, main points, and the most important takeaways. They’re great for reinforcing comprehension and they also work as little book GPS’s for readers wanting to go back and refer to important information within a chapter.

  • You want to avoid going into too much detail because bullet points are the, well, the point. Design the summaries by using bullet points, bolded text, and lots of white space between each point for easy scanning.
  • Your goal is to reinforce and remind readers of the most important information before moving on.
  • Anywhere between 3-8 points, or takeaways, is appropriate. You can also use this space to, if useful, include cross references that connect back to important passages in other parts of the book, examples, or statistics cited in the chapter.

Chapter summaries are a great tool for readability and recommendability and I highly suggest you consider them. Here’s an example from, Nagoski and Nagoski’s Burnout:

Example of a Chapter Summary from Burnout by Emily Nagoski, PhD & Amelia Nagoski, DMA.
Example of a Chapter Summary from Burnout by Emily Nagoski, PhD & Amelia Nagoski, DMA.

Check Out: 7 Triggers of Writing Imposter Syndrome: Reclaim Your Confidence

Interest Visuals

Next we have Interest Visuals.

  • These include photographs, illustrations, diagrams, and artwork related to topics discussed in the text to add visual interest.
  • Make sure you keep them close to their relevant passages in the text, either within the body text itself or in sidebars. Be sure to add captions briefly explaining what they depict.
  • Varying the styles and placement of interest visuals —such as with a full bleed, framed, angled, centered, etc.—adds more interest and visual stimulation.
  • Well-chosen interest visuals contribute to your readers’ enjoyment, provide relief from dense text that might cause eye strain if they focus too long without interruption, and of course helps them retain the concepts you’re discussing.

Be selective about the quantity of interest visuals you use and make sure they’re relevant. Your interest visuals should not be distracting or interrupt the reading flow—they’re meant to enhance understanding, not hinder it.

Here’s another example from Nagoski and Nagoski’s Burnout. The chart they’ve included on this page shows readers how they can organize their answers to the questions the authors pose here, which not only breaks up the text and adds interest, but also illustrates how to create a chart that may have been too complicated to try to explain with only words.

Data Visuals

Finally, we’ve got Data Visuals to make your book more interesting to your readers.

  • Data Visuals include graphs, charts, diagrams, and infographics, and the like.
  • Their purpose is to help illustrate to the reader, and really to communicate in general complex data that might be otherwise impossible to communicate. Things like statistics, trends, relationships, comparisons and data-driven points or takeaways.
  • They simplify complex information quickly.
  • Be sure to keep them with their related context and label them properly to make them easy to comprehend at a glance. Readers should not have to struggle to understand your chart.
  • You’ll want to use Data Visuals any time you’re trying to explain something that would be difficult to get across in a conversation at a party without drawing it on a napkin.

When Data Visuals are well-executed, they are one of the very best ways of boosting your reader’s understanding of a topic, and they also bring a great deal of reader satisfaction because readers enjoy feeling like they’ve learned something. They definitely make your book more interesting.

Use them as needed to help your reader comprehend what you’re saying, but don’t go overboard. If a text explanation will get your point across in a sentence or two, you likely don’t need a Data Visual.

Example of an Data Visual from Burnout by Emily Nagoski, PhD & Amelia Nagoski, DMA.
Example of an Data Visual from Burnout by Emily Nagoski, PhD & Amelia Nagoski, DMA.

So what will you add to make your book more interesting for your reader?

Let me know your favorites in the comments, or if I’ve left out any kinds of interesting visuals or you have some really great examples I should add to the post, share those, too!

Let’s change some lives,

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PS — 🩵 When it feels right, here are 3 ways I can help you turn the page:

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Holly Ostrout is a book coach with a vision of changing the world one book at a time, by teaching big-idea entrepreneurs, coaches, speakers, and authors to create a book in a gentler, more effective way. A way that takes both you and your reader on a profound journey.
Holly Ostrout

Hi I’m Holly. If you’re going to change the world with your book, fiction or nonfiction, I can help you do it.

I'm a book coach for high-achieving, creative coaches, consultants, service providers, speakers, and authors who want to build a sustainable business around their book—whether that’s fiction or nonfiction.

I help you share your wisdom, ideas, and gifts by writing & publishing a life-changing book that helps you streamline your business, bring in more money, and change more lives.

I believe books are the most important human invention. And yours can change the world.

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Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

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Joyful, Easy Writing Can Be Yours

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Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Tracker & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.

Mockup of The Writing Ritual Creator from Holly Ostrout
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If You Want to Change the World with Your Book, You've Got to Write It.

Find that magical zone when the words flow like honey + everything you want to say comes across in perfect harmony. Write your book joyfully + easily with this Writing Ritual Creator & keep the flow with my helpful newsletter.