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Book Designer & Self Publishing coach

Communicating with Your Book Designer


March 28, 2021

Tips to avoid confusion and make for a more rewarding process.

Prepare before you meet for the most productive experience communicating with your book designer.  The time spent preparing helps prevent confusion and makes the design process more rewarding for everyone. By now, if you have been following my blog, you may have a good deal of this upfront work completed. 

Make your first meeting communicating with your book designer mega productive.

check boxBring that electronic file of your “squeaky clean manuscript.

It is best if it is complete, but if you are waiting for content, make sure the designer knows what is missing and what to expect.

check boxBring a hard copy printout of your “squeaky clean manuscript” for reference.

check boxBring all your images on disk or to scan.

Make certain they are keyed clearly within the text so the designer knows where they are to be placed.

check boxWill you need your designer to create illustrations, tables or take or find photography?

If so, bring what they need to do that successfully. Clear descriptions, rough sketches, or examples that provide enough information for them to create or find the needed graphic.

check boxYou can save time and misdirection if you do a Fact-finding Mission before you meet with your designer. Bring that information as well, and tell your designer how you made these decisions. 

Other information to consider and bring to your designer:

  • The printing process you are considering, print-on-demand, offset, or both
  • If you have decided on a publishing service or printer and who they are
  • How many books you want to be printed
  • If you are considering an eBook and the type you are considering.
  • Your book’s proposed dimensions
  • The margins and text treatments you are considering

Even though you have done all this legwork, be open to your designer’s suggestions. For instance, you may want a small digest-sized book with big margins and 12 point text with no hyphenation. Your designer may point out (or discover) that this will create rivers of white within the body text. They may have suggestions that work better with your text. So consider your Fact-finding Mission decisions a starting point. 

check boxBring a book or two that you find visually appealing, preferably in the same genre.

check boxIf you are considering a contract, bring a sample to leave for them to review. 

check boxRemember to gather the gross receipts tax number, business name, and address.

If you are a business registered in your state, you may be able to issue the designer a Resale Tax Certificate to defer tax on the book until it is sold to the end-user. To issue them a certificate, you will likely need their state tax number and business name, and address. If you want to issue a resale certificate, you will want to issue it before you are billed. They cannot be issued retroactively.

check boxBring a W-9 form.

If the designer is not incorporated, you may want them to fill out a W-9 so you can send them a 1099 form at tax time. The W-9 should be kept in your files for four years for future reference in case of any questions from the worker or the IRS.

Planning and considering these items in advance helps clear the path of minor and major obstructions and makes the entire process run smoothly.  If you don’t know how to answer all these questions, your designer can help, but I recommend you bring samples of books you find appealing, so you and your designer start with the same goals in mind.


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