Book design & typesetting + creative and technical support for authors whose aim is to self-publish their work
Book jacket (cover) design
I've been designing book jackets for many, many years now, from novels to children's books, technical manuals to research treatises and academic and educational textbooks. This work, whilst initially for publishing houses, has now expanded to cover self-publishing in print and e-book format, where my jacket designs have contributed to the work of both established and first-time authors.
Topics the books I've designed for have been delightfully varied – from social history, aviation, humorous fiction and medicine, to singing and acting tuition, personal development, apiculture (bee keeping), food and poetry to name just a few.
Book and e-book design & typesetting
The majority of my work on books since the evolution of digital design and typesetting has involved working with publishing houses. More recently however I have become increasingly involved in helping individual authors achieve high standards of design and typography when self-publishing in print and e-book form.
My services include selecting appropriate book sizes and content templates, the application of advanced formatting to word-processed documents, right through to creating entire books from basic manuscript stage using industry-standard, professional typesetting and page-layout applications, all ready to upload to e-publishing and print-on-demand platforms.
Supported self-publishing & print-on-demand platforms
- Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP / Amazon)
- Ingram Spark
- Ingram Lightning Source
Industry-standard design & typesetting software
- Adobe InDesign
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
Whilst self-publishing platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (formerly Create Space)® and Ingams's Spark offer previously unheard off opportunities to aspiring authors, and likewise appear to simplify the entire book production, sales and marketing process, creating a book to a standard which can compete with a professionally designed and published product often requires creative and IT skills which exceed those of the average computer user. Understanding how the various platforms work and their individual requirements is also an advantage.
Social Media is a key asset when marketing and promoting a newly self-published book. I can offer comprehensive social-media development and support, including Facebook and Twitter product page creation and administration.
If my 40 years of experience in the design and preparation books for publication, plus my professional experience of social media and the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and Ingrams Spark (and Lightning Source) platforms would be of assistance in helping you self-publish your new book, please get in touch… my contact details are at the foot of this page.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is self-publishing?
Self-publishing offers authors the opportunity to take responsibility for all those tasks a traditional publishing company might otherwise undertake such as editing, design, typesetting, production, sales and publicity. In return for authors taking on those responsibilities self-publishing platforms offer a substantially greater return on book sales than traditional publishers. Amazon, for example, offer up to 60% royalties (less printing costs) on paperback sales and either 35% or 70% on eBook sales. Just how much of the process of turning a manuscript into a finished printed book or eBook individual authors choose to take on themselves is very much a matter of personal choice.
What services do you offer?
I'm here to help authors achieve their self-publishing aspirations by offering them access to my professional skills and experience in graphic design, typesetting and the submission of books for print and digital reproduction. I have no ambitions to offer full-house traditional publishing services nor what are sometimes known as 'hybrid publishing services' (hybrid publishing being where a publisher both charges fees for design, typesetting, production, sales and publicity and takes a cut of the author's commission). I believe that an author who chooses to self-publish should receive all their royalties direct and in full from the publishing platform of their choice.
How much does self-publishing cost?
If you have all the necessary literary and computing skills and are prepared to publicise your book yourself then, theoretically, self-publishing could cost you very little. Apart, that is, from the sales commission charged by your chosen publishing platform and the cost of any printed copies you may order for resale. You will however incur costs if you engage professional help with say, cover design, page layout or typography, or managing your chosen self-publishing platform.
How much do you charge authors for typesetting?
Print-on-demand paperbacks and hardbacks: My typesetting and page layout prices start at £2.75 per finished page*. Very roughly (and as a guide only) a 100,000-word manuscript typeset in 10pt type, with minimal allowable margins and gutters, is likely to result in a 250-plus page 5"x8" paperback when all the front-matter pages are included. Increasing type size, margins and gutters will increase the page total. My print-on-demand typesetting prices include one PDF proof and one upload to the publishing platform of your choice.
E-books: My prices for formatting e-books with an interactive table-of-contents start at £150*. My Kindle e-book prices include one digital proof (suitable for viewing in the free Kindle Previewer app) and one upload to the publishing platform. E-book cover image design extra (it may be possible to use a print-on-demand edition cover design for an e-book edition with slight modifications).
*Prices are for general guidance only and apply to plain text and simple layouts with no more than 10 images/illustrations; they also assume working from a fully-edited Microsoft Word manuscript. Higher rates may apply for creative or complex page layouts, 11 or more photos/illustrations, mathematical or scientific content and complex footnotes/endnotes or an Index; all due to the additional time/complexity involved.
How much do you charge authors for designing book covers?
My prices for covers and jackets for printed books and for e-book cover image files start at £80. Prices include up to two concepts, one PDF proof and upload to the publishing platform of your choice. If you commission both a print-on-demand and an e-book edition from a single manuscript I can usually create the e-book's cover file from the print-on-demand edition's jacket origination.
What other charges might I incur?
Books featuring more than 10 images/illustrations may involve higher rates than those suggested above. Processing, enhancing, converting, editing and scanning photos and/or illustrations may be a consideration when I work out a price for you. I'll only be able to advise you whether this type of work will be required, and what costs will be incurred, when I view the files you want to include. My hourly rate for this type of work is £40 per hour*.
Author's revisions, additional proofs and reloads to a publishing platform are all chargeable extras at £40 per hour.
* Please note: Images for both print-on-demand and e-books must be capable of being reproduced at 300dpi without loss of quality – this is a print industry and the publishing platform standard.
Do you charge VAT?
No, I don't currently charge VAT and it's unlikely that I will have to in the foreseeable future.
Would you work on a percentage of sales?
I'm afraid not. A traditional publishing company is more likely to be able to help you if you're looking for a deal which works on a percentage basis.
Do I need to buy an ISBN number for my paperback or eBook?
A free ISBN from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is perfectly acceptable if you're only planning to make your paperback available via Amazon. Kindle e-books don't actually need an ISBN, they're automatically assigned an ASIN number by Amazon – although you can purchase and assign one if you wish. If however your aspirations include other publishing and distribution channels or platforms (such as Ingram) for your book, 'in parallel with Amazon', I recommend that self-publishing authors acquire and register their own ISBNs before starting the publishing process. Whilst some find the process of acquiring an ISBN quite straight-forward others may not and, unfortunately, it's not something that a third-party should engage in on an author's behalf. That said, I'll happily guide you in the direction of an 'official' ISBN agency; but you will have to undertake purchase, registration, etc., yourself. In the UK, Ireland or a British Overseas Territory the 'official' ISBN agents are Nielsen Book (nielsenisbnstore.com); other countries have their own agencies which are listed at isbn-international.org. A free KDP-supplied ISBN does not however prevent you from purchasing 'Author Copies' via KDP at cost and making your own arrangements for sale either direct or via an independent outlet.
Are there any downsides to a free Amazon ISBN?
The main considerations are that you won't be able to publish your book to another platform, or via another channel, using a free Amazon ISBN (see above). Free Amazon ISBNs are not registered in the name of the author/publisher either, so you'll see your paperback book listed in the small print of its on Amazon product page as 'Independently Published'.
How do I ensure that wholesalers, libraries and independent bookstores buy and stock my paperback book?
If you enrol your paperback in their free Expanded Distribution programme, Amazon will make your book available to distributors so booksellers and libraries can find your book and order it. However, not everyone in the book trade likes the Amazon way of doing things, or they insist on discounts and terms which Amazon cannot accommodate within their business model. If you feel that your book has the potential to sell more copies through the traditional book trade than direct-to-the-public, I'd recommend that you publish via Ingram. Ingram's process is more complex than KDP's and involves (modest) costs, whereas publishing via KDP/Amazon is free. It's also only fair of me to point out that unless a book is offered at a substantially discounted wholesale price its unlikely to attract significant support from trade buyers (50% off the cover price is considered to be a 'standard trade discount); and you will certainly need your own ISBN number(s).
I've self-published my paperback from a Word document but I'm not happy with the page and type layout – can you help?
Yes, I almost certainly can. However Word has its limitations, it is after all word-processing software, not a professional typesetting or page make-up application. I would always recommed that printed books are designed by someone who understands the requirements of print and typesetting using an application designed for the purpose.
I've self-published my Kindle e-book from a Word document but I'm not happy with the page and type layout – can you help?
Yes, I probably can. Advanced though it is, Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform (formerly CreateSpace) has some known issues when it comes to converting Word documents to eBook format, the consequences of which can sometimes be minimised by careful formatting.
I've self-published my Kindle e-book from a Word document but I'm having problems with the index (or 'table of contents') – can you help?
Again, I probably can. The techniques involved in creating an e-reader-friendly table of contents tend to be more advanced than most people would come across in their day-to-day use of word-processing software, plus there are limitations imposed by the HTML code used to generate Kindle pages.
I've been told that there are issues with my e-book's index (or 'table of contents') on some hand-held devices – can you help?
In this case, unfortunately not. With so many devices for readers to choose from, and only limited standardisation, some issues are, regrettably, inevitable.
Do you offer 'editing' services?
Yes, I can offer a modest level of editing advice based on experience. However I do not have the literary or gramatical skills of a professional editor.