I have always enjoyed the enthusiasm of every new author, their passion for their subject, and assisting them in bringing their project to fruition. Over the course of the years, I have invariably found it helpful to present an overview of the design process in order to afford a better understanding of the designer’s role. Often beginning with a face-to-face meeting, authors will frequently ask, what does a book designer actually do? In answer to that question I offer The Book Design Process:
- Design Brief. The overall project is discussed including a review of the subject matter and the proposed physical characteristics of your book or cover.
- Concept Development. Verbal concepts are developed to focus on the direction you wish to pursue visually.
- Design Research. Design research is done for the selected concepts. Graphic elements are introduced.
- Thumbnail Sketches. An exploration on paper of possible design solutions, the best of which are selected for further development.
- Rough Layout. Generally composed on a computer in actual size, refined and then evaluated, the best of which are selected for even further development.
- Comprehensive Layout. Rendered with enhanced detail and precision and presented to you for final approval. Color selection occurs at this stage.
- Art Production and Proofreading. A final proof is prepared incorporating any revisions or corrections.
- Preparation for Printing and Electronic File Submission. Files are ‘pre-flighted’ to assure that all images and fonts are present before outputting. A full-color interim proof of your cover would be advisable.
- Matchprint and Bluelines. An Online SoftProof (OSP) or Digital Blueline Hardcopy (DBL) is obtained from the printer to assure that prepress was completed to your specifications.
Each book is unique and in the context of this process it remains the task of the designer to create the look of the cover and/or interior of your book; along with developing its personality, driven by a meaningful, imaginative style and visual flow.
Bob Schram, the founder and owner of Bookends Design, has worked in the publishing industry since 1984, having served in a variety of capacities; including a production manager in publishing, an art director in video production, as well as a small business owner.