Books and book covers are my specialty. First-time authors and self-publishers are welcome. Please browse my site—view my samples, my capabilities, and my tips on preparing your book manuscript files.

Patricia Rasch, Designer
Cromwell, Connecticut

 

Tips for first-time self-publishers

Do you have a budget for your project? If you do, the following tips may help control your costs.

Design:

Although it is tempting to “see what the designer will come up with,” you will spend additional money if your designer is “working blind”. A better approach is to have some ideas about what you'd like your project to look like and who its intended audience might be, and to share that information with your designer. The more clearly you and the designer communicate, the more money you will save in production time, and the better the result.

If you have examples of book covers or of book interior pages that reflect your taste, give the designer a few of those pages. Email pages as jpeg-format scans, or fax the pages, or, if the referenced book is being sold online, you may email its url (i.e., Amazon.com), full title, author, and the page numbers of sample pages.

The designer does not use these samples to copy the styles exactly, instead, the visual samples help communicate what the author has in mind so that design-approval will proceed more efficiently.

Images:

For a cover image, you may either provide an image you already own, or, you or your designer may purchase an image from an online stock image source. Some stock image sites offer images at very low cost (about $15 for a high res image for a book of about 6" x 9"). Because image "research" time is billable time, if the image search is a task you are comfortable taking on, you can save that cost. If you find images you like but you aren't sure if they will be suitable, send the image stock-house name and the image reference numbers for the designer's review before any purchases are made.

Many books also have a color portrait of the author on the back cover, along with a brief bio. Images for your book cover must be high resolution (300 ppi, at the size they will be printed, or larger). Although some images that are of lower quality can be improved and used, lower quality images need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some images are too poor to be effective in print.

Images in the interior of the book are most commonly printed in grayscale, unless you have made arrangements with your print vendor for some certain pages, or all pages, to print in color.

Manuscript:

Before going into production, your manuscript should be completely edited. That means, spell-checked, printed on paper, and read by someone whom you trust to be able to correct all grammatical mistakes that you may have not caught yourself. Although edits can be made after the book is in its final page form, those edits will cost extra time and money. And, although it's quite difficult to catch every single error, the fewer errors that show up after the book is in page form, the better.

Word files: be as consistent in applying styling as possible. Choose and apply just one style for subheads, one style for chapter titles, etc.

Avoid adding any hard returns within paragraphs. Although they may not show when placed at the end of a line in your manuscript file, they will produce a new paragraphs in the book, which will need to be fixed as edits.

Finding a Suitable Print Vendor:

My final products are high-resolution pdf files, that are either sent via ftp, or burned to CD and mailed to your print vendor. The files are customized to the specifications of the particular print vendor and paper stock that you have chosen. I do not include printing in my services because of insurance costs.

The major concerns in choosing a print vendor:
• Price
• Customer service
• Print quality

Caveat emptor. Although you may find print vendors with very low prices, always look at and physically handle their wares before choosing them (even if that means buying a book from them). Some printers also cut corners by eliminating customer service — choose them at your own risk. (I've had clients who have had to reprint elsewhere after a bad experience with a low-price vendor — I am no longer comfortable sending files to those vendors.) If a print vendor's site is aimed only at first-time authors working in Word, and that site does not easily accomodate professional designers, beware! Quality may be compromised.

Instead, I recommend using a printer with a good product, good customer service, and who also has reasonable pricing. There are good quality print vendors out there. I've had very good luck with FidlarDoubleday.com and 360 Digital Books in the past, for short-run to medium book quantities.

eBooks:

An eBook can be created for most books. A .pdf format ebook is the simplest (and lowest cost) format — as it is an export from the book's interior and cover files, that are joined in one file. However, .pdf pages do not allow text to reflow on e-reader devices — rather, each page maintains its original layout. So .pdf eBooks can require the reader to scroll if he/she is using a small screen e-reader, and on small devices, the text size may be extremely small.

The .epub file format allows text to reflow, and also allows the text to be styled somewhat similarly to a print book. However, alterations to the print book file are required in order to produce a good, clean, validating .epub file. Therefore, it will be somewhat more costly than a .pdf eBook. The extra cost is dependent on the degree of complexity of the text, with a simple novel being the low end.

If you think you will want an .epub eBook version of a print book, let your designer know up front, before any work is begun. The designer may be able to flow your text into a template that will translate more easily into an .epub eBook later. Telling the designer that the work should be .epub-compatible before work begins can save you lots of dollars for labor later (even if that "later" is a year or more in the future).

Pricing:

I can provide an estimate based on the amount of time your book is likely to require to complete. Plain-text books, such as most novels, are the quickest to produce. Books that include tables, graphs, charts, numbered lists, fill-in-the-blanks, block quotes, many captioned images, appendices, index, footnotes, etc., require additional time. Therefore, I like to have the manuscript file(s) in hand before giving estimates.

I will qualify my estimate by stating a given number of proof stages with estimated revision time in hours, or as an average percentage of pages needing edits. Any overages would be additional, as would be additional batches of edits.

Please also communicate the time-frame for production.

Deadlines:

IMPORTANT: if you have a distribution deadline, please contact your print vendor for their production and delivery estimate, and then back up that time from your distribution deadline. That will tell you how much time you have for editing and for production. (Some clients have gotten unpleasant surprises when they contacted their printer too late. Book shipment time from printer to you also needs to be figured in.)

My turnaround times are very reasonable, usually within 1 week of receipt. However, it is wise to always inquire, and to share deadline information with your designer at the beginning of the project, and throughout the project if the dealine should change.

Please contact me with a brief description of your project and we can begin communication. (Please click on my signature below.)

Thank you.

 

 

Pat Rasch drawing Pat Rasch, Designer