Hiring a book designer is one of the most important self-publishing investments you can make. A well-designed book presents you more seriously as an author and will attract more attention on bookstore and ebook shelves. Here are a few simple tips to ensure that you have a final book design that you love, completed on time, and on budget.
Choose a designer that reflects your style
Designers usually have a certain feel to their work. It may be the way they use different elements like photographs and text or color. The most important question is: Does the designer’s style sense feel like a good fit for you?
How much experience should your designer have
A good designer can save you time, money and help you avoid costly mistakes. When you hire a seasoned designer, you’re paying for their expertise and experience. A less experienced designer may seem like a better deal at first glance, but they may not have the expertise required and could end up costing you more in the long run. Don’t be shy to ask for references.
Knowing your market will help your designer create a book you are happy with. Do you want a creative and fun layout or is your book content more reserved. Is your book for children? Youth? Adults? Men? Women? Your book cover must get people interested enough to pick it up from the store shelf or click on your cover art to find out more about the book.
Research other books in your genre and find covers you like. Send these samples to your designer so that she has a clear understanding of the styles you like.
Searching for images online is great for getting ideas but most images are copyrighted. It’s important to use properly licensed works. If you have an image in mind that you wish to use then you need to ensure the rights to do so have been purchased. Your designer can help you with this.
Make sure you understand project design costs
Does your designer charge by the hour? Give you a flat rate? Give you an estimate or a firm quote? Are revisions extra?
It’s much easier, and less stressful, to have the terms and fees agreed upon before work begins. This is the same for a deposit and a payment schedule. Are payments made at agreed upon deadlines or milestones? You want to have a signed contract that clearly outlines expectations and agreements.
Either negotiate a flat rate or have an understanding of approximately how many hours will be involved in the project and what the hourly rate will be. Make sure you ask how many sets of revisions are included in a flat rate.
Professionally edit your manuscript before you give it to your designer
No matter how good a writer you are, you will need an editor, and a proofreader, to ensure that your book meets the same quality standards as traditionally published books. If your designer has to make major changes part way through it will be more costly for you.
Making changes to the text, adding or deleting graphic elements, will change the length of the book, the page layout, table of contents and index page numbering. These types of changes can cause production delays and may require changes to deadlines and could cost you more money.
Professional designers usually have many client projects in their calendars, and will not usually start on your book without a deadline and contract in place. They will need to know all of your publishing and print deadlines, as well as if cover art and sample pages are needed ahead of time for marketing purposes.
What should be in the contract
Most designers will request that you sign a contract in order for them to begin work. Below are some of the details the contract should include:
- Number of initial layouts/designs you will have to choose from
- Number of edits to chosen cover design
- Number of edits to the interior pages
- How extra charges are invoiced
- Deadlines for getting content to designer
- Proof deadlines
- Payment and deadline schedules
Always discuss the contract with your designer before signing, make sure you are comfortable and understand all the details.
Once you have signed the contract, most designers will request a 15-50% deposit before beginning working on your book.
Good luck with hiring your book designer!
Ingrid Koivukangas, BFA, MFA, is an award winning environmental artist, writer, designer, Reiki Master and educator.
As an artist Ingrid works intuitively at sites creating new works in response to sites and their energies and histories both natural and human. Her work encompasses many media including site specific ephemeral, large scale public works, writing, video, photography, sound, web, sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking.
Ingrid’s artworks have been included in many publications and books including: Art in Action: Nature, Creativity and Our Collective Future, published by the Natural World Museum and the United Nations Environmental Programme and Art + Science Now: How scientific research and technological innovation are becoming key to 21st-century aesthetics by Stephen Wilson, Professor of Conceptual and Information Arts at San Francisco State University. One of her favourite publications to be included in is Scholastic Book’s Now See This! Art That Influences.
Ingrid has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with Distinction, from the University of British Columbia Okanagan and a Master of Fine Arts, Environmental Sculpture, from the University of Calgary. You can view her work at: www.ingridkoivukangas.com
Author: Ingrid Koivukangas
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