Yesterday was Friday, July 3 — an observed national holiday. That means a lot of people didn’t have to work. Several people called, wrote, or stopped by during the day and most made sure to tell me to enjoy my day off — or not to work too hard. A nice sentiment, but not one I can relate to. I love my job and am slightly addicted to designing things. The thought of a mandatory day off makes me shudder! I. MUST. DESIGN. SOMETHING!

Do you ever feel this way? Maybe it’s not design, but it could be writing, crafting, or whatever you enjoy. Of course, there are always too many things around the house to do and this could be a good chance to, oh, do the dishes, laundry, clean that messy counter, or go through another purge of the kids’ toys. It’s just that something inside of me screams out that I need to be designing.

Back to yesterday. Our daughter’s preschool was closed and Tom and I work from home. Our son, “Punkin,” is 10 (he’ll hate that I’m using that toddler nickname in public) and had half-day camp, but oh, what to do when “Doodlebug” is home and there’s work to do? Praise God for my darling hubby Tom, because he decided to take her grocery shopping, pick up Punkin and the neighbor boys from camp, and take them all out for lunch. JOY! I had the whole house to myself. Peace and quiet (but for the occasional scramble of dogs’ feet as they burst out the dog door to get the squirrel). It was a glorious several hours, first with my intern here and then alone with those fuzzy mutts and some good music.

Do you ever wonder if you’re a bad parent because you’d rather work than hang out watching My Little Pony with your child? I wonder that. Now, I love my kids and spending time with them, but I seriously struggle with separating wTLC-computer-my-little-ponyork and home. So far the kids don’t seem to be seriously damaged, but I’m determined to be more deliberate about my time with them. Right after I’m done with this post. Which is being written while I play My Little Pony birthday party with Doodlebug right next to my computer. 😉

Blessings!
Tam

If you’re an Austin-area writer looking for answers to your publishing and ebook questions, there’s a whole event waiting for you on Saturday, September 8th.

“Let’s Make Ebook Gold” is the topic for Business Success Center’s fall Entrepreneurs’ Day from 9:30am to 4:00 pm on Saturday, September 8th. Expert sessions will deal with content and cover preparation, contracts and copyright, pricing, publishing and marketing your ebook. Designed for first time ebook creators as well as those who already have experience. The event begins with a networking session for attendees to share their ebooks and ideas.

TLC Graphics’ Tom Dever will present “Content and Covers” in the morning, teaching the best way to format your content for the most popular formats (Kindle, Nook, iPad) and how to bring in graphics and design to make it an award-winner. See the role your cover plays and how it can be a huge asset.

PR by the Book’s Marika Flatt will be speaking in the afternoon session on all things publicity and publishing during her “Marketing Your Assets” session. Other session leaders include: Jan Triplett of Business Success Center and Monica Emilienburg of Richards, Rodrigues & Skeith. Come to the morning or afternoon session only ($50 per session) or all day ($75). Seating limited to 25, so register quickly.

For more details, go http://entrepreneursday.eventbrite.com.

The question of whether to do it yourself has become much debated with the popularity of desktop publishing. Many people think that if they have the software, they can save money by designing their own book. Having the proper software does not make somebody a book designer any more than having a scalpel makes someone a surgeon. Software is merely a tool and only does the job properly in the hands of a skilled professional. If you intend to be successful in the marketplace, make sure your book is not only saleable, but reflects the care you took in writing it. Hire a book designer and spend your valuable time working on an outstanding marketing plan or writing your next book.

How do you find the professional expertise right for your publishing goals? You can do a Google search for “book designer” and get 60 million results! Don’t give up.  There is a way to find the perfect design firm and it doesn’t have to be a game of chance.

You must first determine your publishing goals—self-publisher vs. multi-author publisher, local vs. national audience. Then set a realistic budget. Do your research and plan wisely or you’ll end up with a team that doesn’t meet your needs. If you plan a national speaking tour for your next book, your budget should reflect the level of quality needed to compete at that level. Hiring an entry-level or amateur designer could be a waste of $500–$800, as the quality would brand you an amateur as well.

Professional designers have a range of expertise, fees, and services. Start narrowing the field of designers by finding those who belong to professional organizations. Notice national design awards on their resume, which can indicate respect from others in the field. What are their fees? Most often, higher-priced designers really are those who have the best grasp on producing a book that’s salable and competitive in the marketplace. They’ve earned a right to charge $1,500–$3,000+ for their expertise and unique designs. They know how to design for different genres and audiences. They’re aware of trends, printing options, and can save you money by avoiding novice pitfalls.

Expect several cover concepts and always sign a contract. Owning the rights to the cover isn’t necessary if you have unlimited use of the cover image for your promotional needs at no cost.

If you need guidance through the publishing process, know that some firms offer this while others opt not to provide consulting services. A design firm is an integral player on your publishing team. This may be a long-term relationship, so choose wisely. Of course, don’t hesitate to hire a different firm for your next book if the previous project didn’t go well. Your success depends upon every member of the team working toward the same goal.
If your book is intended for an audience of family and friends, not to be sold to the public, there may be no need to spend your money on a professional. If you want to learn the craft of book design, buy the software and learn from books, classes, and professionals, keeping in mind that this software has a steep learning curve. Alternately, you could hire a student for  up to $200 or even in exchange for the experience. Either way, learn the printer’s specifications before starting or it will cost more in the end.

The public image you portray as a publisher is very visual and the quality of your books’ covers will largely create that image. Take your time in selecting the right type of design firm for your publishing needs, knowing this is an invaluable investment in your company’s future.

(This article first appeared in the Writer Watchdog Self-Publishing Directory, a new resource guide to assist publishers in finding vendors and information to aid their publishing efforts: http://www.writerwatchdog.com.)

We’ve moved our blog space, so hello and thanks for visiting! The intention of this blog space is to provide useful information and dynamic conversations to assist those of you out there who aspire to be successful publishers. Whether you’re already published or just starting, we’d love to learn about your goals and help you reach them.

Blessings to you,
Tami Dever
Owner, TLC Graphics