The design of your book is a determining factor in its success with your readers. The design is the vehicle for your words. Spend time choosing the right vehicle to get your ideas to your readers. As with your editor, choose from designers experienced with book design. It can make a big difference to the price, and to the finished result. 

Here are 10 things to look for in your non-fiction book designer.

  1. Has done covers that you like. 
  2. Asks for examples of what you like. 
  3. Asks who the audience is for your book. 
  4. Can work with your preferred digital printer and understands epub options. 
  5. Can clearly explain the stages of the process. 
  6. Shows a portfolio of work on their website. 
  7. Listens to what you say. 
  8. Gives a firm quote based on a review of your manuscript and your brief. 
  9. Is clear on how many options and rounds of changes come with the quote. 
  10. Alerts you to extra fees for services such as illustrations or diagrams. 

Start with the three principles of great book design 

You must come to the designer with an idea of what you like, ideally examples. Consider these three principles to help narrow down your choice of design. 

Principle 1: Books have genres and genres have conventions 

Check out the colours and styles relevant to the business book genre by: 

  • googling other books on your topic 
  • checking a bookstore for other books on your topic. 

Principle 2: Reader preference 

Think about your reader and the books that might be on their shelf. What does your reader like? 

Principle 3: Your preference 

Now you have narrowed down the options, choose colours and styles from among these that you like. If you hate yellow, don’t print your book in yellow even if your designer loves it. Choose colours, fonts and sizes that you like. To kick start your thoughts, consider your preferences in the following list: 

Simple  Detailed 
Modern  Retro 
Luxury  Budget 
Playful  Serious 
Loud  Restrained 
Feminine  Masculine 
Pop  Grunge 
Literal  Abstract 

Questions your designer may ask you 

  • What size do you want your book to be? 
  • Do you need illustrations? 
  • What is your book title, and what else is going on your cover? 
  • Do you have illustrations, photos or diagrams, and are they print-ready? 
  • Are you printing a hardback version? 
  • Is there anything you want to avoid? Colours, styles? 
  • What do you like? (refer to the table above)