Author responsibilities and graphic designers too.
Author responsibilities and also those of a graphic designer or book designer. Take them seriously. I am not an attorney, so the following are just suggestions based on my experience. When it comes to copyrights, permissions, contracts, legal entities, etc., get legal advice.
Author responsibilities and suggestions
- Obtain permissions to use images, quotes, or any material not created by the author. Keep a record of permissions.
- Provide an edited Microsoft Word document to the graphic designer. Include text for the copyright page, table of contents, index, and glossary, if applicable.
- Images are provided by the author. Indicate placement in manuscript. Image captions and credits may be provided in a separate document.
- Choose the printer or service and provide book dimensions and binding style to the designer. Spine width is determined after final page count.
- The author or designer may convert images to CMYK. Verify the correct format with the service. Color may shift when converting from RGB.
- Indicate approximate image sizes. Example: Note full pages with bleeds. Images must be 300 ppi or larger, and at the approximate size or larger when printed. Designers have more flexibility if given 350 ppi images.
- Buy an ISBN and barcode to be provided to the graphic designer.
- Pay a deposit with the balance due on completion. I charge 50 percent.
- The author pays for any graphics or images that are purchased with their permission and on their behalf.
- Additional hourly design time is charged to the author as Author’s Corrections (ACs), also called Author’s Alterations (AAs).
- Write in Microsoft Word. Design and formatting should be in InDesign.
HOW MANY PAGES IS 50,000 WORDS?
The question can be answered if the typeface, point size, leading, page size, and margins are known. A provider who prints novels with the same dimensions and specifications, can provide page count based on the manuscript. For any other book type, it is just a guess.
Graphic designer responsibilities and suggestions
- Do not layout a book until all permissions are provided.
- Provide two or three text layout and cover ideas to the author. They can be sketches or just a typeset page or two of a couple of ideas to get started. Charge for additional unexpected preliminary work.
- Provide a written estimate of design fees. Detail everything to avoid misunderstandings. Include hourly rates or any agreement for additional work or corrections. Collect a deposit and the signed contract after sample design work is approved.
- Consider using a professional design contract, like forms found in the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook, Pricing & Ethical Guidelines.
- The author or designer may convert images to CMYK. Verify the correct format with the printer. Color may shift when converting to CMYK.
- Never change the author’s manuscript without permission. Make changes for book design and typography. Example: Use one space between sentences instead of two, correct use of hyphens, en and em dashes, etc.
- Send PDFs proofs regularly.
- Provide print-ready PDFs once the book design is completed.
- It is customary not to provide the final InDesign documents to the author, but many designers do provide them.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DESIGN A BOOK?
If my desk is clear, I finish the design and layout of a 180- to 200-page book of average difficulty, in two to three weeks, assuming all materials are provided with a deposit and signed contract. Add extra time to design a few sample pages before you proceed. Complicated books such as cookbooks or reference books with charts will take more time. High page count books will naturally add to the timeline. New or inexperienced book designers should allow more time. If a designer plans to design books on evenings and weekends, the timeline should be increased. Always provide your clients with a realistic timeline. You want return business and word-of-mouth referrals.
WORKING WITH AUTHORS
Book designers and authors may have conflicting design ideas. Try to establish priorities with the author. If the author seems to want everything bolder and bigger, try instead to make other elements smaller and lighter.
Give the client what they want. But take your name off the book if you are not proud of the work. Be flexible to accommodate the author. But, if you know it is poor design, politely decline credit by excluding yourself as the designer on the copyright page.