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Last updated Dec 20th, 2023


We’ve got your book covered, inside and out

Book design is what transforms your manuscript into a product that you can sell to the world. Through Reedsy, authors can seek professionals to provide:

  • Cover design
  • Illustrations
  • Interior design (typesetting)
  • Typography design

To compete in today’s crowded book market, authors must ensure that their titles look better than 90% of the competition, appeal directly to their target audience, and provide an unparalleled reading experience.

This page defines the different services Reedsy offers to help authors and publishers design beautiful books.

Book Cover Design

An intriguing cover can convince readers to pick up your book off the shelf (or click it in an online store). But if the design isn't properly executed, a potential reader's first impression may also be their last. With the help of an experienced professional designer, any book can receive a cover that stands out in a crowd and is laser-focused on appealing to its target audience.

Authors and publishers often request book cover design services on Reedsy during or after editing. However, authors who seek out a cover earlier in the process can use the design in early marketing materials (think: ads and social media posts).

What can I expect from a cover design service?

Each cover designer on Reedsy will have a slightly different workflow. However, clients can expect:

  • A round of initial concepts from which the client can choose their preferred approach 
  • Further rounds of refinement based on the chosen concept
  • Delivery of the final cover files, ready for upload to the client’s chosen retailers

The number of initial concepts should be clarified in the designer’s offer — as well as the cost for any additional rounds of design, should they be required.

The client can also request:

  • Additional cover formats, including audiobook
  • Book mockups and other visual assets to use in advertising and social media.

What can affect the cost of a cover design?

Each cover design project on Reedsy will have a unique set of needs based on the style of the cover, the formats required, and the amount of time a designer will need to devote to it. Requests and offers should be clear in communicating the client’s requirements, including:

  • The skills and seniority of the professional designer
  • Whether the book is digital only or requires paperback and/or hardcover designs
  • Bespoke elements like original illustrations or photography 
  • How many rounds of conceptualization and refinement will be included in the quote

Reedsy designers tend to specialize in particular genres and can often have distinct skills and visual styles. For example, not all cover designers are illustrators. Authors and publishers are encouraged to look through each professional’s profile and portfolio before sending a request.

What information should I share in a design request?

Communication is key in any collaboration. To allow Reedsy designers to offer accurate quotes and create concepts that are perfectly tuned to your book’s readership, your requests should also include:

  • The book’s genre and intended audience 
  • Examples of covers you admire in that genre
  • A quick synopsis plus a breakdown of key themes and characters
  • The formats required (digital/print) 
  • The technical requirements of the client’s chosen retailer or printer

It’s worth noting designers rarely have the time to read every book they work on, so the information provided in the request is vital. If the designer requires more information, they can start a conversation with the client through the Reedsy dashboard.

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Illustrators are often the unsung heroes of the publishing world, creating images that can enhance the reading experience and serve as a book’s most potent marketing asset. They offer custom artwork that can set an author’s book apart from the crowd and turn their manuscript into a beautiful object that belongs on a reader’s bookshelf.

What types of projects can illustrators work on?

Professional illustrators on Reedsy commonly work on artwork for:

  • Children’s picture book illustrations
  • Comic books and graphic novels
  • Book covers (in particular, fantasy and science fiction)
  • Maps (often fictional)
  • Diagrams for textbooks and nonfiction

When is the right time to bring an illustrator on board?

Children’s authors looking to self-publish are encouraged to have their picture book illustrated after it has gone through developmental editing. This is to ensure that there will be no need to rework the illustrations further down the line. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to sell your picture book to a traditional publisher, you will want to query your manuscript to agents and publishers before hiring a freelance illustrator. Traditional presses will often want to take the lead on the design process and assign an illustrator of their choosing to the titles they acquire.

Will illustrators accept a share of royalties instead of an upfront payment?

Illustrators on Reedsy will charge a flat fee based on the size of the project and do not work on a royalty share model. However, this means that self-publishing authors will retain the full amount of the creator’s royalty.

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Book Interior Design or Typesetting

Typesetting, book interior design, or book layout is the art of composing text for print or digital display. Done properly, a typesetter’s work will go completely unnoticed by readers as they enjoy a smooth, flawless reading experience.

Interior design should only take place once the book’s manuscript has been fully edited and proofread. 

What can I expect from a book interior designer?

Depending on the needs of the project, a book interior designer will take charge of:

  • Setting the font, spacing, and margins of a print book to meet the requirements of the publisher’s chosen printers
  • Laying out visual assets like charts, illustrations, and photos to create a seamless reading balance between images and text
  • Ensuring each page is free from common issues like ‘rivers,’ ‘ladders,’ ‘orphans,’ and ‘widows.’
  • Designing a separate ‘reflowable’ version of the book for ebooks devices [optional]

The author can expect to receive fully formatted book files that are ready to be uploaded to the client’s chosen publishing platform.

Is professional typesetting required for every type of book?

The vast majority of typesetting collaborations on Reedsy involve visually complex projects, which can include cookbooks, art books, or nonfiction titles with a lot of graphical elements like charts.

For projects where the formatting demands are relatively simple (for example, with a standard novel), authors will often use DIY book formatting apps, such as the Reedsy writing app.

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Typesetting and typography are commonly mistaken for each other — though they are very separate disciplines. Typography, specifically, refers to the art of designing and arranging type. Typographers are brought onto projects to work on design elements that require a little more care and attention.

What can I expect from a typographer?

Typographers on Reedsy can be hired to create:

  • Unique title treatments for a book’s cover
  • Signature typefaces for use within a book’s body matter
  • Beautiful drop caps for the start of chapters

Here are some examples of what a typographer can provide.

It's worth underlining that typography services do not include formatting or typesetting a manuscript. Any assets, fonts, or brand templates created by a typographer can be handed off to a specialist typesetter (interior designer) who can then use them to format your manuscript.

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Production Management

For complex print book projects, an author or a publisher will often work with a production manager to pull together all the strands to keep a project on time and under budget. 

Production managers on Reedsy have a wealth of experience in trade publishing and an intimate understanding of how the key players work together: managing editors, proofreaders, typesetters, illustrators, photographers, and designers!

Depending on the volume of sales expected, your budget, your target market, and the level of complexity of the book, they can also help pick the best printing and distribution options available. 

What can you expect from a production manager?

If you’re looking for help to cost your project, find suitable freelancers, and get your book made according to the appropriate print or digital specifications, consider hiring a production manager.

In a nutshell, you should hire production managers for:

  • Project costing
  • Print management
  • Project management
  • Book specification
  • File preparation

If you’re looking for a professional to handle the technical nitty-gritty elements of self-publishing, Reedsy’s production managers are here to help

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