- what is design & typesetting?
You will probably have written your manuscript in Microsoft Word. This is a great product for word-processing but proper book design and typesetting requires professional desktop publishing software. Our designers take all your content from Word into InDesign before attending to an astonishing number of styling details. Here is what's typically involved for a novel:
We combine your files in sequence and review the material thoroughly. The text is cleaned to remove unwanted spaces, breaks, tabs and sections. Running headers are set to create a stylish arrangement that works for the book structure, trim and binding. Margins are adjusted to meet the relevant print house guidelines, allowing for binding on the inside edge and space to hold the pages on the outside. Chapter and section pages are then custom-designed and styled. Finally, page numbering is placed and styled throughout.
We arrange the front matter, main body and back matter of the book to show a clear hierarchy of content while adhering to the conventions of good book design. Front matter of the book will include things like the half-title, title page, copyright, dedication, contents, foreword and acknowledgments. The main body is the introduction, prologue, parts, chapters, paragraphs, conclusion, epilogue and afterword. The back matter for a novel might just be an author bio or advertisements. Read more on the parts of a book for full details.
We will select a licensed, professional typesetting font to suit the tone of the book overall. For a novel this might be a serif font like Jenson, Bembo, Electra, Arno or Minion. We will never use a Microsoft font like Times New Roman as it is intended only for word processing. Heading fonts, chapter numbering fonts and other flourishes will be chosen to further enhance the character of the book and complement its cover.
We follow best-practice on font size, leading, justification, indents, hyphenation, tracking and kerning to ensure text is perfectly polished and enjoyable to read. This means avoiding over-hyphenation as well as setting text with optimal number of characters per line and line heights. Emphasis in the text should also be applied correctly by employing subtle color/italics rather than distracting bolding/underlines. Furthermore, consistency checks are applied to ensure bullets have consistent casing and sentences end with punctuation.
The interior pages of a professionally-designed book will always look neat and tidy. By squaring off pages at similar heights to avoid awkward spacing and ragged lines, our designers achieve a truly consistent look and feel. We also consider text that shouldn't be split or objects that shouldn't be separated and may keep them together using a variety of balancing techniques.
- what should I send?
Whether your manuscript is finished and ready to go, in draft form before proofreading or you only have a few sample chapters — send us what you have. We take confidentiality seriously so nothing is shared beyond our staff. Be sure to give us any instructions, your cover and printer guidelines as well. We then review everything to quote a price and turnaround.
Please include all the content for your book in a Word file. If you have used an alternative word processing package such as OpenOffice or Pages then please make your file MS Word compatible. If you have split your book into parts that do ensure each file is clearly named like chapter1.docx, contents.docx, biography.docx. and tell us the order in which your files should be combined. We also need to understand the structure within each file so using numbering, fonts, weights, size or color to distinguish between levels is very helpful.
If you envisage parts of your book being laid out in a certain way, please let our designers know. You may have also seen styling features you particularly like in another book in which case please send us some photos or a link to the Amazon "Look Inside". Alternatively you can simply leave it up to our designers to use their creative skill to produce something they feel really works for your material.
When designing a book and cover we think it's incredibly important that the two look like they are meant to go together. We have always found the best way to achieve this is to design the cover first. This way decisions have made for typography, layout, colors and imagery that we can go on to reflect in the interior. As an example, the typography choices for your cover may well then be reflected on the halftitle and title page, as well as in some of the headings.
So if you have already had your cover designed, please send this to us, ideally as a pdf.
We need to know the name of your book printer and what trim size, binding and paper you have selected. When preparing your final pdf we need to know the right settings for color, bleed, print marks, spreads, binding edges, font embedding and transparency flattening. If your printer is one we know like Ingram Spark, Amazon KDP, Bookmasters or Lulu then we already have the details we need. If you are using a different printer we will either need you to send us these print guidelines or we can liaise with the printer for an additional charge.
- can I get it done faster?
When it comes to fast turnaround on design without compromising quality, we don't like to blow our own trumpet but we have achieved some pretty amazing things. So if you're on a real time crunch with a book launch date and it's at all feasible for anyone to get your design work done, then it's probably us. Just a couple of things to keep in mind:
Should you need your files sooner than quoted please ask for our express service. Express jobs are subject to a 30%, 50% or 100% fee depending on the speed required. This is because we will need to prioritize the work over other customers and/or work outside normal business hours.
If you are planning to launch your book on a fixed date it is also important to be aware of the other times involved. Afterall, the publishing, printing, shipping and distributing of books is not instant. Most printers will take at least a week to get a proof to you, a couple of weeks to print and ship a batch of books, maybe a further couple of weeks for a book to settle in stock with distributors. Try to allow as much time as possible to avoid disappointment.
- when should I do editing?
is a team of graphic designers. We do not edit or proofread your book as part of our service and you wouldn't want us to either — it requires a very different set of skills. However, that doesn't mean we underrate the importance of editing, it can make a big difference to the success of your book. Here are a few tips we would suggest:
edit before design
Most authors find a few typos when reviewing their typeset proof, somehow these little errors are easier to spot once the book’s overall layout and appearance have been made easy on the eyes. We can apply changes to your typeset file. However, each edit must be located and applied individually by our designers so significant changes can become time-consuming and therefore expensive. It really is worthwhile ensuring that your text is as error free as possible before passing your manuscript to us.
finding an editor
Ideally, you will engage some early assistance. A quick google of 'self-publishing editors' will bring up plenty of options for you to choose from at a wide range of prices. Just keep in mind a 'proofreader' will skim-read your pages to find mistakes in punctuation, grammar, spelling and consistency whereas a 'copyeditor' goes much further and actually reads your text to fix flow, transitions, wordiness and jargon.
DIY editing tools
While there are obvious advantages to having a book professionally edited, for many self-publishing authors it is simply too expensive. In these cases we would
recommend some great free, online tools to help pick-up the most obvious mistakes. Grammarly highlights mistakes in grammar, spelling and clichés in your writing. Hemingway Editor highlights complex and lengthy sentences in different colors to help you see things like adverbs and passive voice. ProWritingAid checks for grammar mistakes, spelling errors, overused words, readability, and use of clichés. One final suggestion, do ask family and friends to review your manuscript, they may not be professional proofreaders but it's amazing how much another pair of eyes can help!
- how much will my job be?
Send us everything for review and we can quickly issue you with a proper quotation for your job. However, to give you an idea, fiction is mainly text so the price is typically $1.92 USD per standard page with a minimum of $320 USD.
Depending on the formatting you have used in your manuscript, the same material could either be crammed into 100 pages or spread across 200. We need a reliable way to determine how much material we've been sent so our designers roughly format everything to standard pages — 6" x 9" with standard font size, spacing and margins. The resultant page count gives us a comparable measure of the work involved and hence a price. Your final typeset book might be bigger of smaller than this but the price won't change.
- how many pages will my book be?
It is typical to want to know, as early as possible, how many pages your book will be once typeset. This might be as you're keen to stay within certain constraints or you are keen to finalise your cover file.
Maybe you want to keep the page count down to minimise print costs. Maybe you want to push the page count up so the book doesn't look too thin. Perhaps you have a target page count or you want to fit within specified printer blocks. If any of these situations apply then it is important to let our designers know so they keep can these constraints in mind when making any design decisions.
Once we have produced your sample we can usually give a decent 'estimate' of page count. However, we will only know the 'actual' page count for your book until it is completely typeset and finished. Only when all the styling is set, all the balancing done, any images placed, chapter pages done and front matter complete can we be confident enough the pages aren't going to change. So if you are looking to finalise your cover design, this should only ever be done at the very end.
- what if I need changes?
If when designing your book, we get every aspect of the design perfect for you first time, then that's super. But we don't expect that. Receiving your feedback and making adjustments is all part of the design process so changes may be requested at any stage.
We will design an extract of your book and send a sample file for your approval and comments. At this stage you can request an unlimited number of design changes without charge.
Once your whole book has been designed we return a review file. If anything we have done differs from the styling approved in your sample, let us know and we'll fix it without charge. At our discretion we may also include a few edits but all other changes are then charged at a fixed rate: edits marked as pdf comments are $0.96 USD each, edits written out in a list are $1.44 USD each and more extensive changes are $96 USD per hour. All changes are subject to a $48 USD minimum fee.
Once you have completed payment we return your final print-ready file. After this point, changes are much more expensive. Even the smallest change necessitates a design update plus printer re-submission and is likely to cost at least $96 USD. So take the time to check your review file carefully to avoid this.
- how do I print my file?
We will send you a final print-ready pdf file. If you are using our publishing or print services then you can simply keep this for your records as we will submit this file for printing on your behalf. If you are using another printer then you will need to submit the file for print to them directly.
Prior to payment we will send you a review pdf labelled WzWReview-Filename that will be set to display on your screen in double-page spreads to resemble the appearance of a book with a review watermark across the pages. Once happy, you make final payment and we return your print-ready file. Your final file will be labelled WzW-Filename. It will display as single pages, without the watermark and may include a bleed area with crop, bleed or trim marks as required by your chosen printer. This is the file you need to submit your printer.
If you are using Amazon KDP or Ingram Spark for printing then you will do the file upload in your own account. We cannot do this for you but we do have a few tips to keep in mind. Be sure to upload the correct file for printing, that means the 'final' file we sent you and not an earlier review file. Next be careful to select choices for color, paper, binding and trim size exactly as agreed in your quotation as your file was prepared to this exact specification. If images in your book go to the edge of the pages then for KDP you must also select the option that the file includes bleed. Should your file show any errors in the previewer, do just check the above items have all been entered correctly before you contact us with details and include a screenshot of the issue.
Once your files have been uploaded, you must get a printed proof before placing any batch orders. Books look different in print from the way they appear on screen so this is your opportunity to flick through the pages and appreciate the final product before committing it to distribution or to a large print run.
- what's this on my pdf?
When you receive a book file from us there may sometimes be settings, features or marks you don't recognise. Whether or not your file shows these just depends on what your printer guidelines specify. This is a summary of things you might see:
If you notice that your final book pages are fractionally larger than the trim size of your book, then your book has bleed. Bleed is the printing of images or colors that go beyond the edge of where the sheet will be trimmed. It gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper..
Some printers specify that certain little black markings are required on a file. These help them to align and calibrate pages on their machines for manufacture. Markings include bleed marks, crop marks, trim marks and registration marks. These may appear as little lines, cross hairs or color bars. They will be trimmed off as part of the book making process and will not appear on your printed pages.
When reviewing your PDF file you may notice some very feint white lines. These “hairlines” are the result of the transparency flatteners used to create PDFs, and sometimes appear around the edges of text and images boxes. The line will not print when your book is produced and are only visible on your computer screen at certain zoom settings.
If your book has a background on any of the pages you may notice a think white strip on the binding edge of your file. This is required by the printer because binding glue does not adhere to paper when the latter is covered in ink.
This is the first recto (right-hand) page you’ll see when you open your book. It simply displays the name of the book, with no byline and no subtitle. Half title pages have been included in books for centuries and they have the advantage of being the first page attached to the cover as it opens, rather than that being the title page.
Your file may include blank pages. Empty left-handed pages are often used to force key content like a new chapter, to start on a right-handed page. POD books must also have an entirely blank final page where the printer will include their barcode and details.
- can I have source files?
We are happy to share source files with customers upon request. For a $280 USD admin fee one of our designers will prepare, package and upload your files so you can save these on file should you wish to make changes in the future. However, unless you have plenty of experience, we would strongly recommend you do not attempt to edit these files yourself for a number of reasons:
Our team is extremely experienced with a wide range of design software packages and will select the best software for each job. In the main, book interiors are created in Adobe InDesign with any graphics work done in Photoshop or Illustrator. In order to open and edit your files you would need to have purchased all the latest software and be familiar with using it.
In order for your source file to appear correctly, you must also have the right fonts installed. The license for a professional typesetting font means we can only embed it into your final-form PDF, we cannot include the font in your source files. We are happy to provide details on how to purchase these licenses for yourself but please keep in mind that a full professional font family can be expensive.
If your PDF includes licensed imagery from our stock libraries, we cannot include these with your source files. Under the terms of the license, we have access to use a huge number of images but they may only be embedded into final-form material. The original image files themselves cannot be sent as this is considered re-sale.
After any updates, your final files will need to be exported to PDF using Acrobat Professional. This means applying all the correct pdf distiller profile for things like colorspace, transparency and font embedding as well as including any required print marks for bleed, crop marks and spreads set as required. If any of these are set incorrectly then the printer is likely to reject your files.
In some cases, customers just want the text from their final-form PDF for editing to create a new edition or for translation into other languages. In this case we can export the text from your InDesign file into a cleanly formatted MS Word for future use. Please ask us for further details.
- what about a cover?
Every book needs a cover. But creating this is entirely separate to your book interior. You need a pdf of the front back and spine of your book cover to be submitted separately. The cover sets your first impression and it needs to look really good.
our cover service
If you do not have a cover yet, please see the details of our cover design service. When designing a book and cover we think it's really important that the two look like they are meant to go together. We have always found the best way to achieve this is to design the cover first. This way decisions have made for typography, layout, colors and imagery that we can go on to reflect in the interior.
If you have already had your front cover designed, please share this with us. Once your interior is complete, the final page count will be known and you can then set your full cover layout with the correct spine width measurement. Please see our cover template layout
service if you need any help with this.
- is an ebook included?
This is a book design service to produce a pdf file ready for printing. An ebook is entirely different and something we would recommend, but it is not included with this service.
what is an ebook
An ebook is an electronic conversion of your printed book. To create an ebook all the text and images in your book is first tagged and converted into html code. This code should then be edited to ensure the fonts, layout and styling will work for the widest range of ebook devices. The ebook file is then packaged as a 'mobi' file Amazon Kindle and an 'epub' for iPad, Nook and Android. Any reader will then be able to download this file onto their digital device where it is instantly decoded and displayed for them.
converting to ebook
Most successful books are now available in both print and ebook version. Please read our article on why you need an ebook to appreciate why it's so important to have your ebook converted properly and not rely on free tools and cheap conversion offerings to do this for you. Our ebook conversion service page provides full details of our service to take your print-ready files and turn it into an epub and mobi. Prices start at $280 USD.
- what are your terms?
We do not have a written contract for you to sign. Instead we ask that you have read this know what you're buying section and accept our general terms and conditions which we have tried to make short and readable.