If you include pictures, plan them in from the start, and not at the last minute.

Planning on mixing images with your text? If a picture speaks a thousand words, you want to make it work hard for its keep, so think about illustration right at the start. Why? Words and images should be complementary, rather than compete with or duplicate one another. Also, your choice of illustration will likely affect decisions over format, paper, printing (colour or black-and-white), and more.

Working with an illustrator

If you plan to commission images from an illustrator, an early and efficient briefing is everything! Give very clear instructions on what you want – size, style, b/w or colour, text (if any), etc. Also, you should make decisions over format before you give them the green light. There’s nothing worse than asking for landscape-shaped images, only to discover later that you’d have preferred them in portrait format. If you work with us, we will ensure seamless liaison between all parties to ensure the right result. Here are a couple more tips.

Illustrators will usually supply rough sketches for you to approve before they add colour or other finishing touches. You’ll need to check roughs carefully; the last thing they’ll want is to have to remake a fully finished pic simply because you didn’t apply due diligence earlier.

If they’re working traditionally (i.e. on paper), you’ll need to obtain professional scans at the right resolution (see digital images). Some illustrators prefer to supply their own scans; again, you’ll need to brief them on size and resolution.

Picture resolution

A word on digital images. Photos that look really great on screen only have to have 72 pixels (units of picture information) per inch of display space. But to print properly, those same files need 300 pixels per inch (ppi). If you try to put your 72 ppi photo in your book, one of two things will happen: either the printers will reject your file (that’s the better outcome), or they will go ahead and print the book and you’ll have fuzzy, pixellated pictures.

Your book designer will help you work through this process.

Formats and sizes

Formats and sizes

Deciding on the size of your book is one of the largest budgeting choices that you will need to make.

Don’t hesitate to talk with your designer about this; they can help you figure out your options, understand print terminologies and jargon, get quotes for printing costs, and ultimately help you make the best decisions for your book.
Size is a tricky term when it comes to books: does it mean the size of the page or the number of pages?
Here are some terms of the trade:

Extent: this is the number of pages in the book. Bear in mind that your manuscript may be reduced (or even extended) during the editing process, so it’s wise not to quote a word-count to your designer until after the editing process.

Format: this covers the physical dimensions of the page, whether it’s hardback or soft-cover, and whether it’s portrait (tall) or landscape (wide). Note: this is not to be confused with ‘formatting’, which is what happens at the typesetting stage.

You will need to know the size of your book – whether its shape is to be portrait (tall) or landscape (wide), and your book designer or illustrator will need to know this too. You will also need to know the format and a rough extent, as well as a notion of your desired print run, before you can obtain printing costs. Size, shape and print run will all have a large effect on your production costs and how you set your unit price when selling your book. Sometimes it’s easiest to work backwards: find a book you really like (and which looks or feels similar to what you have in mind for your own), measure it, then get printer quotes for a range of print runs and a range of page extents.

Don’t skimp on preparing the print details: this is the most expensive part of producing your book, so you must always get print quotes first. And remember, these quotes will only be as accurate as the information you supply. What type of stock (paper) will you use? Are you printing in colour or black-and-white? Will your cover have any embellishments (e.g. gold foil, embossing, matt laminate)? And remember that we’re here to help; you’ll find a few more pointers on print here.

Is this an area that confuses you still?

Choosing a designer

Choosing a designer

When you contract a designer and typesetter (which is usually one and the same person), whether independently or through Smartwork Creative, look upon the money spent as an investment. It’s the bit that makes your book look as good as it reads, and, along with the editing, it will go a long way in helping your book stand out from the crowd. Readers expect a book in a particular genre to look a certain way. Balancing their expectations with innovation and flair takes expertise, and you ignore them at your peril. If in doubt, take a close look at the books on your bookshelf; most of them will have been produced by book professionals and trade publishers, and their designers know how to manage time-honoured conventions, such as legibility of type, pagination, placement of page numbers and running-heads (or running-feet), layout of title pages, and so on.
If you choose an independent designer, it’s best to go by strong recommendation. You will need to brief them clearly on what part of the job you want them to do, whether it’s the page design, cover design, typesetting, or everything through to preparing a print-ready pdf file that you can email to a printer.
If you place your book with us, we will ensure you are ‘kept in the loop’ as it goes through the design, typesetting, pre-production and print processes. We will give you a point-by-point breakdown of all the factors you need to consider; we’ll also help you with some of the big early decisions you’ll have to make on format and size.