By Ron Pramschufer, President , Self Publishing, Inc. – Helping Authors Become Publishers since 1995
Affordable book cover design and text layout by qualified, experienced designers. I’ve written on this subject from time to time over the years and always end up with a small amount of heated emails from high priced designers but literally hundreds of emails, thanking me for removing the cloud that often surrounds this subject.
I moved to New York City from Baltimore back in the early 1980’s. I had been hired to sell book and catalog printing, for a Baltimore based printer in the New York market. For those of you who remember the early 80s, it was not only pre-Internet but it was pre-personal computer as well, so going into a new market and trying to sell anything was difficult, to say the least. There were no company supplied leads and nobody just called up looking for a printing sales person to talk to. Leads were researched by the salesman, in this case, me. Somewhere during the first few weeks in town I had gotten my hands on two lists of Associations; one of 1500 Liberal Associations and one with 1500 Conservative Associations. I was a political conservative in an extremely liberal New York City, so I figured there would be fewer salesmen calling on the conservative associations so I started trying to set up appointments.
“Hello, do you have a public relations department?” I remember asking a switchboard operator one day. “We don’t have a public relations department, but we have a publications department… would you like to speak with them?” they replied. “Wow”, I thought to myself… “Sure”. The person who answered the phone in the publications department was Jonathan Gullery. That was 30 years ago. Not only did Jonathan and I do lots of different printing projects together over the following decades but Jonathan sits right outside my door in the Self Publishing, Inc. New York City office, designing books and book covers for hundreds of self-publishers each year. Experience, you ask… Jonathan has more experience in design than many of our clients have years on earth, or at least, years out of school. How does this help you? Your books will be designed with above average service and quality at below average pricing. Jonathan is not cheap… he’s efficient.
An average, custom designed trade book cover costs less than $500. This is compared to the $1000-$1500+ tossed around out there for a similar product done by an experienced cover designer. (For complete pricing see http://www.selfpublishing.com/design/custom/cover-design/.) There is no magic behind the pricing. Jonathan makes a decent living and I have managed to stay in business for the last 15 years as well. It really boils down to efficiency. If I am four times as efficient as the $1500 designer, I am actually making more money at $500 than they are at $1500. It’s as easy as that. If you are working on one cover here and one cover there, like many designers, it is hard to be cost effective. Your bills are your bills and you have to charge enough to cover them. On the other hand, if you are working on 20-25 covers at a time, it is much easier to be cost effective due to the volume. In the end, the final product speaks for itself.
The same thing goes for text layout. All 6 x 9 texts have certain common characteristics. The initial set up is the same for one as it is for ten. If you have laid out the texts for thousands of titles, chances are you will be more efficient than if you have only worked on a handful… even dozens. This increased efficiency is reflected in the final pricing. The basic custom text layout is $395 for fiction and $595 for non-fiction. (For complete pricing information see (http://www.selfpublishing.com/design/custom/book-layout/). This is significantly less than the $2-$4 per page charged elsewhere. Again, it’s not because Jonathan lives in a hut somewhere and doesn’t need to make much money, its efficiency. And with everything offered by Self Publishing, this efficiency is never at the expense of customer service. All custom design packages include a certain amount of phone time with the designer as well as help from the coach or production coordinator.
On a final note, once you finish printing books with us, your printing files are yours. For all you authors considering companies like Author House, Outskirts Press, Xulon Press or any other vanity press, it is absolutely necessary that you ask the following…Once I have printed for the first time, can I have all the printing files so I can print books elsewhere?” This is HUGE and a must ask question. In fact you should ask the same question to those $1500 cover designers as well and I’m not simply talking about the PDF file. I’m talking about the application files as well. There will probably be a small charge for the application files but you want to know that they are yours, or exactly what they will cost, if you want them. It’s one thing to use a company year after year, printing after printing. It’s completely different to be tied to a company forever. Oh, and don’t fall for the line… “Do you own the carpenter’s hammer used to make a house, when you buy it?”…. You’re not buying a house.