What is common practice in publication design?

Nb1299

New Member
Hey guys, I’m a graphic design student and haven’t done much publication design outside of my uni projects so forgive me if this is a stupid question.

How does the design process usually work? Can independent freelance designers design the publication for the client and the finished product is then taken to a publisher? Or do publishers have in-house designers that do everything?

Say I want to design for someone who’s writing an unsolicited book to send to a publishing house. Would this work or would the publisher want to design the book themselves? I guess every publisher has a different protocol/culture, but I’d love to get an idea so I know what to expect going into this.

I ask because I’m thinking of pitching my design ideas to someone thinking of creating a biography. They’re not connected to a publisher at all, they’re merely just posting about wanting to start this project so I thought to jump in and offer my services. I’m not sure if it’s worth it or if a publishing studio will do all the work in the end.

I must sound so clueless... anyway thank you
 

hankscorpio

Moderator
Staff member
They need to write the material first. Then they need to send it to publishing houses to see if any of them want to pick it up. Usually first a few chapters from the start.

Until they have a publisher - there's very little you can do with it. It will change in text and layout so many times.

If they are self-publishing they will need to send a formated PDF to somewhere like Amazon or whoever is doing it.
And they would need to procure an ISBN.

So don't touch the design until you know more.
 

Nb1299

New Member
They need to write the material first. Then they need to send it to publishing houses to see if any of them want to pick it up. Usually first a few chapters from the start.

Until they have a publisher - there's very little you can do with it. It will change in text and layout so many times.

If they are self-publishing they will need to send a formated PDF to somewhere like Amazon or whoever is doing it.
And they would need to procure an ISBN.

So don't touch the design until you know more.
Ah, got it. Thanks so much for the insight!
 

Wardy

Well-Known Member
Like Hank says, it depends if they're self-publishing or not.

If they're contacting the large independent publishers there's no need to involve a designer, they will just send a Word doc or pdf.

And even if they're self-publishing, they may use one of the many self-publishing companies who will design it for them anyway.
 

Nb1299

New Member
Like Hank says, it depends if they're self-publishing or not.

If they're contacting the large independent publishers there's no need to involve a designer, they will just send a Word doc or pdf.

And even if they're self-publishing, they may use one of the many self-publishing companies who will design it for them anyway.
Thank you!

I should’ve mentioned this before but I feel like this is a somewhat unique case. The person I’m referencing is actually the parent of a late actor and they want to make this potential biography a visual book of memories/stories/etc. They don’t seem to have any connections or publishers in mind - they even asked a random social media user for help, at which point I jumped in and offered mine.

So this isn’t like a typical large-scale project, it’s more of a family project at this point (though it does have a fanbase and demand). I guess the same thing that you said applies to this though and I was pretty naïve thinking it’s a simpler process than what you guys have described, so thanks for the input! :)
 

Wardy

Well-Known Member
Well if it's someone even fairly well known, they ought to get some interest from one of the larger publishers, which would not
be good news for you unfortunately. I guess there's no harm in trying to get them to do it all themselves.
 

sprout

Active Member
I do a lot of book design work for UK and US Publishers (often one and the same with co-ed deals). PM me with some idea of the area of interest and I may be able to put you/them in touch with a commissioning editor in the right area, if they of significant interest.

As both HankScorpio and Wardy have said, the designer would not be involved until later. When I get commissioned to design a book – especially if there is a celeb involved, it is only after the deals have been done and usually once they have already agreed rights for other territories. These days books often only get published once rights deals are in place.
 
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