The oft-quoted adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” is no longer relevant for the twenty first century. The publishing industry is booming and each book seeks the coveted number #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Surprisingly, self publishing is becoming a norm in the industry as well. Many writers are opting to bypass a publishing house entirely and self-publishing. It’s a gamble but it can be successful, provided the writer is at good at marketing as they are at composing sentences. In self publishing, the cover matters just as much as the content. It is vital to find a skilled designer with a good aesthetic sense who’ll make your book a visually appealing read.
Hiring a book designer is beneficial especially since book designers are formally trained. A YouTube video or two, can’t compensate for years of experience and training. A book designer is well acquainted with typography, formatting do’s and don’ts and visual design. Their expertise will ensure that your book is a pleasure to look at. Their extensive knowledge ensures that they will get the job done in the least amount of time possible too. This article will guide you on how to work with a book designer online and give you helpful tips to make the experience beneficial for you.
Why Work with an Online Designer?
More and more writers are choosing to turn to the Internet to find their designer of choice. There are many reasons for that. One, the Internet simply offers a plethora of choices. Designers from all over the world, choose to advertise their services online. It’s easier to find a designer that can deliver the book you envisioned. You’re not going to compromise your vision because you’re forced to work with the print house’s available designers. Nor are you limited to the designers available in your city or country. As English spreads all over the world, your only barrier – the linguistic one- is eliminated. You can work with anyone over the world.
Secondly, working with a designer online, eliminates much of the hassle. You don’t have to lug home copies of the manuscript, trying to keep track of which copy was given when. Corresponding and communicating online ensures that your manuscript has a digital back-up. Moreover, you can talk with your designer, anywhere you are.
How to Choose the Right Designer?
The sheer array of designers offering their services, can be bewildering and it can become difficult to see just who would be the best fit for your project. Choosing a qualified and capable designer is the most integral step in the book design. A designer who is competent and experienced, will know how to translate your wishes into reality. Many designers claim to be a jack of all trades but all of them have one niche, one specialization, they’re particularly comfortable with. Some are good at websites, others at logo design. To choose such designers would not be helpful. They would not know the dos and donts of book design. They might not know how to integrate images or how to typeset in InDesign.
To make the right choice, do your research. Shortlist a few designers whose aesthetic appeals to you and then you should browse their portfolio. The portfolio should exhibit a variety of book covers. This would indicate that their specialty is book design and they have sufficient experience in the department. You might even get a few ideas on what you want your book cover to be like.
Writing a Brief
A good designer-client relationship is built on clear expectations. Designers do their best when they know exactly what their clients want. The client should compose a clear, specific brief for the designer. The brief should contain as many details as possible. What color should the book be in? What format is the book going to be in? It’s especially helpful to include samples of book design that the client likes. What will be the printing size of the book? This will be a concern for non-American writers as their book sizes will be stipulated by the publishing house and not by Amazon. If the writer is self publishing and based in the USA then they should use the services of createspace.com or imageshack.com. These websites have select printing sizes. They allow writers to publish through any medium including Trade Paperbacks or Amazon. Both of them allow printing of books in a number of sizes.
Mentioning the intended audience is extremely necessary as it will greatly impact the designer’s decisions in formatting and typesetting the book. If the client wants specific images included, they should not be included in the document and instead, should be attached as separate files. The pixel resolution should be a minimum of 300 dpi as 300 dpi is the ideal resolution for printing quality.
Sharing the Brief
Once the brief is completed, it can be uploaded to a folder in a file-hosting service such as Dropbox or wetransfer.com and shared with the designer. The former is more preferable as it allows the client and designer to make edits and leave comments in real time. No more emailing back and forth with multiple versions of the same document!
Communicating with a Designer
Some guidelines to keep in mind. Contracting a designer online means that your communication with the designer would primarily be through email. Telephone or face to face meetings would be rare, if ever.
Email may seem difficult and not as straightforward as telephone or face-to-face meetings but it does not have to be so. If your brief is written specifically and if your expectations communicated in a straightforward and clear manner, email would be just be as convenient and easy to navigate. Many people think that email isn’t as immediate as telephone but good designers are timely. However if the designer doesn’t reply to the emails in a reasonable number of hours then that’s clearly a red flag. Good designers respond within hour and days not weeks.
Receiving the First Draft
Depending on the complexity of the design, the demands of the client, the first draft will be emailed to you within 2 to 7 days. The first draft is merely the beginning. Take your time and go over the draft carefully and slowly. It is important to see how the draft can be further improved. It is imperative that the client give clear, detailed feedback so that successive drafts can even be better. The draft can be stored on Dropbox or another file-hosting service and shared with the client.
Reviewing and Corrections
Designers typically share the drafts in a PDF file. This is because Adobe Acrobat Reader offers a versatility of options. Their commenting feature is a particularly useful feature. Clients can leave feedback in comments that will be embedded within the file itself. Wherever you see a flaw or something you want to comment on, you merely click at the text and leave a comment. When you email the file back, the designer will be able to see the comments you’ve left. The designer can leave additional comments. It will be like having a conversation within the manuscript itself.
By the End of the Draft
Once all the revisions and edits have been finalized, the writer will have many certain things at their disposal. These include:
An entire book typeset and arranged according to their own preferences. This includes but it is not limited to indexes, table of contents, back bio, acknowledgements etc. The book will have been formatted exactly to your specifications.
I will also provide you with a fully printed mockup of your book. This will be bound, double sided and in the color scheme you chose. This way, you will know exactly what your book looks like before it is shipped off to the printing press. It’s a token to commemorate all the hard work you put in. Moreover, you will also be provided with a high quality digital copy of your book. The book will have been designed in Photoshop and InDesign, the choice of designers everywhere.
You will also be given digital versions of your book’s cover. These images will be specially optimized for promotional use. You will be able to use them for promotion on social media and elsewhere. You can also email them to vendors or Amazon.
I will also transfer all legal rights of the book design to you. You will be the sole owner of the final design. It will be yours to do with as you please.
Lastly, I will also collaborate closely with your printers and send them the final digital file with foolproof instructions. I’ll ensure that the printers knows exactly what to do and I won’t leave you in the lurch. You’ll rest easy knowing that the printers will print the book exactly as it was designed.
I hope this article clearly illustrated the process of working together with an online book designer, along with giving you some helpful tips along the way. I look forward to collaborating with you on designing your book in the future. Feel free to contact me if you have any queries or comments.