Book Design
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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Working With a Book Designer


Morgan Crockett

There are few things you can do as an author that will make the process easier for you and your book designer.

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You’ve worked hard on your manuscript and you’re ready to pass it off to a professional—someone who can take your words and transform them into a beautiful and marketable book. But, there are few things you can do that will make the process easier, before you hand your manuscript off.

The 5 Questions

1. Is your manuscript ready to be designed?

Sometimes authors are under publishing deadlines that can push them to begin the design process prematurely. Although in theory this might seem like a good idea in order to “get the design started,” in practice this can cause unforeseen delays.

The most important thing you can do is make sure that your manuscript is “locked,” meaning that all editing and proofing changes are completed. Minimal authors alterations are expected during the design process. But, remember that each word change or spelling error can cause the text flow to shift, which creates extra work for the designer.

If the alterations become excessive, designers will typically charge per hour for manuscript changes.

2. Does your manuscript have all the necessary pieces?

Because you’ve focused mainly on writing your book to this point, some of the “boring” parts  may have slipped through the cracks. These parts are called front matter and back matter.

Do you have a copyright page? Are you planning to include a foreword or preface? Is there a bibliography? Does an index need to be created? If each of these parts are included in the manuscript at the time the file is passed to the designer, the design process will go considerably smoother.

3. Are there images or graphics you plan to include throughout the text?

Images and graphics can help break up the text and add more visual interest to a book design. Although not all books need them, if you plan on including images, be sure to notate where they are to be included in the text (i.e “Picture of man looking up”).

Create a folder of all images used, saved in a high resolution format (300dpi). These can then be easily shared with the designer by uploading to Dropbox or WeTransfer.

As a rule, if you have not acquired a photo release or purchased the images from a stock photo website, you may not be able to use them in your book.

4. Have you thought about your target market and your marketing plan?

Because of the current landscape of book publishing, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Take some time to think about who you wrote the book for, what they do and think, and where they go to buy books.

Are they online or in book stores? Would they buy this book for themselves, or as a gift for a friend or family member? How would you best connect with them?

Take some time to think about who you wrote the book for, what they do and think, and where they go to buy books.

As part of the book design process, Firewire Publishing can help guide you through creating a book strategy, setting marketing goals, and determining your ideal target market.

5. Have you gathered testimonials about your book?

Testimonials and “Praise for” quotes are critical to creating authenticity for your book. Many consumers glance through these quotes—either on the book cover or on the inside front cover—and ultimately buy the book because of what people have said about it.

These testimonials can be obtained by submitting a “galley” copy of the book to individuals you select, or reaching out to contacts in your network and requesting that they provide a short quote or recommendation.


These are just a few things that you can do to better prepare yourself before working with a book designer. At Firewire Publishing, we help each of our clients navigate the world of publishing and book design. If you have a book project that you need help with, get started by filling out a request form or send us an email and we’ll reach out to you soon.

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