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Finding a Graphic Designer

By Debbie Elicksen

You’ve finally finished the last keystroke to your manuscript. It’s been edited to death and now you’re ready for that next step: finding a graphic designer.

In finding a designer, perhaps the most important element you have to look for, besides having a good feel about the person and their ability to create the vision you have for your book (someone that listens), is the program they are creating the design in. Is it a real layout program, such as In Design, PageMaker, or Quark Express? Or are they working in Word or Microsoft Publisher? Although today, printers want the files in a high resolution PDF, you still need compatible source files to make the process more seamless.

Microsoft Publisher is great for doing up your own marketing materials and dressing up files, but it is not compatible with most printers. It will cost you several dollars more for the printer to make the files compatible, and you’ll probably have several layout errors and issues that come about as a result. Ditto for Word. Unless you want to spend lots of money having a printer clean up your files, your money is best spent having a professional create them before it goes to press.

That’s not to say there won’t be errors. It’s inevitable. But you will minimize them and the printer may also be able to make changes effortlessly with compatible source files, such as In Design, PageMaker, and Quark Express. Any questions about how a printer needs to receive the files should be addressed directly with the printer. Professional graphic designers can speak the same language: Techie.

But how do you actually find a designer? You can ask the printer. You can also look online by Googling graphic designers in whatever city/town you live in and check out your center’s online directories. You could try educational institutes that offer graphic design programs. Any marketing/advertising agency can also do the job. You could go to a print on demand service, but really check them out first. Even some of the so-called reputable POD firms have a good share of horror stories, where clients wait for months on end to receive their book or have their corrections done, or are held hostage over being able to retrieve the files they have already paid for.

Professionals will charge a variety rates. Cheaper is not necessarily lesser quality and more expensive is not necessarily better. You want to see a portfolio of their creativeness, whether it includes other books or not. You can get a good feel as to how clean and crisp their layout might be, based on some of their other work.

You want to feel like the graphic designer understands how you might like your book to look. Find some examples to help show what you mean. Give the designer a good overview of what your book is about and who your target reader is. For example, if your target readers are seniors, you might want to consider larger and cleaner fonts, such as 12-point Arial, Tahoma, or Verdana. The more you can share about what your vision is, the more likely the designer will nail it on their first attempt. Also, the less time your designer spends on your book, the less it will cost.

Read other articles and learn more about Debbie Elicksen.

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