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Book Design Procedure

Writing and publishing a book is a large undertaking that requires a high level of attention to detail to ensure the best and most error-free finished product. Toward that end, here are the steps I take in designing and producing a book. There are almost always some special circumstances, but it is best to stick as closely to these guidelines as possible so I can meet your deadline and keep your overall costs low.

The first step is to talk on the phone or have a detailed email correspondence regarding your book. Things that should be covered are the specific subject matter, your page count, number and types of images, colors, size of the book, and desired deadline. Specific ideas you may already have and your personal likes and dislikes are very helpful as well. If you have already selected a print vendor to produce your final book, I will need their contact information as well so I can correspond with them about proper file preparation for printing at their facility.

The initial consultation will be followed by a Work Estimate and Agreement. It will outline the steps to be taken for your job, including a breakdown of estimated labor, a work timeline that includes landmark dates, and an estimated price for the design of your book. The price quoted is an estimate for the specific services outlined in the project description section. Any additional requests or labor that falls outside of the estimate is billable at $75 per hour. If additional costs were to occur, you (the Client) will be provided with a firm overall price for the additional labor before it is performed.

Book Design and Production Steps

Before formally submitting your materials to begin the design process, all text and images must be ready. No draft documents or placeholder images will be accepted for design and production.

The manuscript should be edited, preferrably by a professional editor. A professional editor will help you avoid extra charges for text changes later in the process and keep your production schedule on track (see Editors article). If you need assistance with editing, an editor can be recommended to you.

Text should be submitted in digital format — MS Word, WordPerfect, Rich Text Format (.rtf), or Text-Only (.txt). For your convenience, a manuscript template file has been created in Word format. This template is the preferred submission format. It will help streamline the formatting process by clearly showing the preferred hierarchy of information. When using this file, please tag all of your text with the included styles. Instructions can be found in the Word Formatting Tips PDF included with the Word template.

For books with lots of photos and/or images, managing those images becomes incredibly important. All digital images should be appropriately named and be provided on CD in the proper formats and resolution (see Submission Guidelines). Photos that need to be scanned should have names and/or numbers clearly marked on the back, so the resulting scanned files will be properly named. In addition, the proper locations for image placement must be indicated in the manuscript or text file and include the same names as the images to be placed. If this is not done in advance, all hours needed to clarify this information and/or fix misplaced images will be considered additional labor.

  1. Three design/layout concepts of key page types — title page, chapter intro pages, and a spread with text and images — will be presented.
    For Full Custom designs, Clients should indicate what they like and dislike about the presented layouts. The next round of concepts will include Client feedback.
    For Reduced Pricing designs, Clients will need to choose the pages they like the most, and I will put them together into a cohesive package for the final layout scheme (Reduced Pricing designs skip down to Step 4).

  2. Two updated design concepts of the key pages will be presented (Full Custom design only).

  3. The final design and layout scheme will be presented. It will include all Client feedback from the secondary round of concepts.

  4. For Full Custom designs, Client may request three sets of minor tweaks to the final layout concept before formatting begins.
    For Reduced Pricing designs, Client may request one set of minor tweaks to the final layout concept before formatting begins.

  5. The book will be layed out in its entirety and then presented to Client in PDF format for review.
    The full layout will include title, credits, dedication, table of contents pages. Index and glossary pages will be included if applicable to the project.

  6. Client should take the time to thoroughly examine the PDF proof supplied by the Designer.

  7. Three rounds of minor text changes (i.e., adjustments to local formatting, line breaks, spelling, capitalization, etc.) are allotted (a total of 6 hours — i.e, 2 hours per round).*

  8. Once the proof has been approved, the files will be collected and prepared for the printer. Files will then be sent to the chosen print vendor either on CD or via FTP (file transfer protocol).

  9. A hardcopy proof should be provided to the Client by the printer. This proof is the 'contract proof' for the project, meaning it is what the printer is promising to deliver as a final product. Clients should thoroughly proof the printer's output against a printout of the original approved PDF proof from the Designer. If any discrepancies are found, they should be noted and relayed to the printer.
    Note: For more information about this step, please see Working with Printers.

  10. Once the printer's proof is approved, the book will go into production.

  11. When the book is in production, all files will be collected and supplied to the Client on CD or DVD.

The design and proofing steps listed above also apply to the book cover design procedure. Clients should look carefully at the printer's cover proof for color accuracy, and compare all the other elements to the approved cover design PDF supplied by the Designer.

*After the layout has been completed, changes that are extensive (i.e., replacement text, a rewrite, or a significant amount of small changes that take longer than the allotted 6 hours) will be considered additional billable labor. It is the Client's responsibility to submit final edited text before layout takes place, so necessary changes are minimal. Additional billable labor for changes will be charged at the appropriate hourly rate, depending on Client urgency.