working with a designer-part one

Yesterday I had a great time being a Speed Coach at the Association of Personal Historians’ Conference Town Square. I met people who have great work and personal experience and skills that they are now bringing to the field of preserving the stories of individuals, families, businesses, organizations and communities.

Because they haven’t worked in print production, however, the idea of working with a book designer—or even the idea that there was a lot to be done between completing a manuscript and handing it off to a printer—was new to some. And a frequent question I heard was how do I select a graphic designer?

On the APH Find a Personal Historian page [accessible by anyone], It is difficult to cull out the actual professional book designers from personal historians who list graphic design as part of the services they offer to clients [often by subcontracting with a book designer]. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ask on the APH Listserv [accessible to members only]. Say you are interested in exploring opportunities to work with a book designer on projects and ask those who do that work for others to get in touch with you offlist. Also, pay attention to who is participating in Listserv and forum discussions in the areas of design, typography, and print production.
  • Ask others for their experiences with designers and who they recommend. Keep in mind that different designers have different areas of focus and skill sets so often a personal historian will develop a number of reliable resources they can draw on.
  • Always look at the publication page of a book to see who is listed as the designer. Often different people will contribute different skills: the book’s interior design and page formatting, the cover design, family trees or other graphics.
  • As you develop your list, look at the designers’ web site. Look at the samples and also look for what they say about how they work, how they view collaboration, and how they price. Get a sense of who they are and how you respond to them.
  • Arrange a time to talk to them on the phone to find out more.

I am writing this post hurriedly, I admit, so I can get to the closing sessions and, although I am directing it to the members of APH I have met at this conference, I hope it is of value to others as well. Part Two will go into more detail about the questions you might ask and the things you might listen for during that phone conversation.

Related posts you might like:

working with a designer-part two

why not design the book yourself?

reading a book like a designer

what is “book thinking”?

And don’t just take my word for it. Check out Dan Curtis’s 4 Reasons Why You Need to Hire a Book Designer