Why we can’t give you a book layout example before you hire us

I’ve just had to have the slightly awkward conversation about why we can’t do a sample book layout for a potential client who is still considering other suppliers, and may not end up working with us.

It’s a question that comes up from time-to-time, and is generally asked in good faith by clients who are not familiar with the design process. They are considering investing both time and money in our services — they want to make the right choice. We get that.

But here’s the thing — from our point-of-view, it is working for free. The risk to us is that, we do examples of your specific book cover or book layout and then you go with an alternative supplier. You have our ideas — you can pass those on, re-use them, even subconsciously — and we have done a considerable amount of work for no reward.

You’ll find the same thing with other designers. Your kitchen designer won’t do you example plans to take home and consider until they have an agreement with you. Your graphic designer won’t do an example logo for your business, until they have your job. Your architect won’t design your home until you have a contract with them.

How to choose a book designer

So how can you be sure you are hiring the right book designer?

  1. Look at their portfolio of work. Do you like the work that they’ve done? Remember, a good designer will make sure each book’s layout and cover are unique and that they reflect the book and the client’s wishes.
  2. Next, check client testimonials. Does the designer have happy customers?
  3. Finally, meet with the designer, either in person or over the phone or skype. Do you feel like there is a rapport? Do they understand your book? Do you like them?

Things to look out for:

  • Book design is a specialist skill, and not all graphic designers are book designers. The easiest way to discover if the person you are considering is a book designer is to ask to see books that they’ve designed.
  • Remember, New Zealand based companies are bound by New Zealand law — overseas companies are not, even if they have a local phone number!

For complex print book layouts — particularly non-fiction; once you have decided to work with us, we are happy to produce a sample design of key elements of your book and/or cover for your sign-off.

Here is a link to an article that talks about page margins — just one of the considerations of page layout.

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