Here’s a no-nonsense, plain English outline of how I approach my design work. For specifics about book design work, click here.
I am your primary contact point for all projects. If you need a meeting, it will normally be me who comes to your premises or welcomes you to my converted loft studio space. If needed, I might ask an appropriate project partner to also attend. This would normally be the case if, for example, a website has reached the stage where technical partners are involved or when a book or brochure uses the work of a particular illustrator or photographer. Occasionally, I might even advise that you make direct contact with them rather than having to relay technical information that might be better discussed with a specialist.
All billing will normally come from me. I am not currently VAT registered, so if you would like to reclaim any VAT charged on certain aspects of a project, then I can arrange for individual suppliers to bill you directly. This is often the case, for example, for large print runs.
I do not ‘mark up’ such items. I charge a completely transparent management and liaison fee, meaning that you benefit from considerable cost reductions and, I believe, quickly come to trust my pricing policy.
All projects tend to follow the same, basic pattern. If your deadline is looming, then some of the following schedule will be compressed.
- You call or email me and give a brief outline of your project and the timescales involved.
- I check schedules to make sure that I can meet your proposed deadline.
- Preferably, we arrange to meet face-to-face if possible, or spend some time on the phone or Skype if necessary. If the conversation is likely to be a long one, I recommend Skype (FREE phone calls between members, anywhere in the world). Other options, such as Google Hangouts, are available.
- At this meeting, we get to know each other a little better, and we discuss the project in much greater detail.
- You can ask me to prepare an estimate based on the information you have given.
- Alternatively, you can give me a fixed budget to work to, and I will report back on the best way to maximise the return on this investment. For book cover design, I work to a set scale of charges (see below).
- We agree on a schedule for your project, the deadlines involved at each stage and the named individuals who will be the official contact points for various aspects of the project. It is extremely important that I am given access to the right people who can make decisions.
- Once the budget is approved, we sign a mutually binding agreement for the project. You can see an example contract here (this one is for a website). It’s written in plain English, and is designed to reassure you that I will spare no effort to achieve outstanding results for you. It also defines the ‘chain of command’, which is especially important if you are a large company or organisation so that we can avoid confusion.
- You supply me with any ‘assets’ needed for the project, such as your notes, copy, and images. Don’t forget to give me any critical corporate identity guidelines to which your project may need to conform!
- For cover design, you need to send me around 6-10 images (or Amazon links) of covers that are both in your genre and that you like the style of, together with blurb and brief synopsis (a brief outline), as well as any elements from the book you feel would work on the cover. This will give me a good idea of what we’re aiming for.
- I will arrange appointments for copywriters (usually me), photographers, illustrators, database designers and any other specialists needed to consult with you and so on. In short, any team members who need specific information or to carry out particular tasks pertinent to your project will need to be accommodated.
- I will keep you regularly informed of progress on your project. Normally, I speak to or email my clients several times a week, and often daily.
- I will provide you with proofs of your project at appropriate times. These may be digital, in the form of PDF or JPEG files sent by email; or they may be traditional printouts or ‘wet’ proofs from print houses at later stages.
- When you get proofs from me, please act on them quickly, since I am normally unable to progress your project until I get your feedback.
- Depending on the size of your project, we will usually have agreed ‘staged’ payments. Again, I request that you honour whatever agreement we have made with you so that I can give your project my full attention.
- If you need to make changes, please let me know as soon as possible. Depending on the type of project, some changes will be easy to make (and therefore cheap); others will be more complex and require additional time or resources (and therefore more expensive). In every instance, I will be completely honest with you about the ramifications of a proposed change, so that you can make accurate and informed assessments of the likely outcome and financial implications.
- Once we have reached the stage where your project is completed and the invoices have been settled, I hope that everyone involved is delighted with the results and that even the process itself has been enjoyable. I usually find that this is just the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship, in which I hope you will feel free to contact me for advice and information, whether or not you have a specific project in mind. Some of my clients have been with me for many years, staying in touch through their own career moves and various incarnations of my business.