Book Design Overview

Welcome to Paper Chain Book Publishing Services! Below is an overview of the entire book design process to help you understand what to expect. This page includes the following:

The Cover Design Process

A cover is first and foremost a marketing tool. A good cover sends a message to potential readers of a genre that yours is a book for them to consider. To understand what that means, stop for a moment and picture in your mind book covers for each of the following genres: science fiction, memoir, romance, self-help. You no doubt pictured very different looks for each genre. That’s because each genre has recognizable elements on their covers that distinguish them from one another. When these elements are absent or taken from the wrong genre, you miss a chance to connect your book to its potential readers. For example, if a romance novel’s cover looks like a self-help book’s cover, it will fail to connect with romance readers because they won’t know at first glance that it’s a book for them. As we go through the cover design process, the principle of properly connecting your book to readers through its visual cues is what will guide our decisions. This process begins with research.

Phase 1: Research (Your Homework Assignment)

In this first phase, both you and your cover designer will be considering the conventions of your book’s genre. This requires you to do some homework. (Don’t worry, it’s fun!) You will be asked to do the following:

  1. If you haven’t already, make a list of comparable titles to your book. These should be books from within your genre that readers of your book will also likely enjoy. Shoot for at least ten books on this list.
  2. From that list, identify the 3-5 covers that you like the most. Gather images of these covers (or links to them online) to pass along to your cover designer. With your list, include specific reasons for liking each one. Is it the artwork you like? The font used for the title? The color scheme?
  3. In addition, think about the objects, people, and locations described in your book. Could any be used as a strong central image for the book’s cover? Create a list of these possible central images and include mention of where in your manuscript each is first described.
  4. Send the full list of covers you like and the full list of possible central images to your cover designer.
You can download this homework assignment here.
Phase 2: Mock-Ups

After the research is done, your cover designer will come up with 3-5 mock-up covers for you to choose from. We’ll then work with you to narrow it down to the final one, making small refinements if needed.

Phase 3: Spine and Back

Once we decide on the front cover, we’ll build the cover’s spine and back. Before the back cover can be completed, you will be asked to provide the following:

  • A concise book description (150–200 words)
  • Your author bio (75–150 words)
  • Your author photo
  • Any endorsements from other authors you’d like to include on the cover

The Interior Layout Process

The construction of your book’s interior has three phases: setup, layout, and review. The setup phase can take place while your manuscript is being edited. The second and third phases, layout and review, take place after the editing is completed.

Phase 1: Setup

During this phase, we’ll work with you on deciding all the important design elements for your book, including its trim size, page margins, font choice and size, and paper type. We’ll then produce several mock-up pages for you to review based on the choices you’ve made. After any needed tweaks to the mock-ups are made and you’ve decided upon the final look for your book’s interior, we’ll move on to the layout phase.

Click here to download a copy of our recommended typefaces document.
Phase 2: Layout

During this phase, we’ll take your fully edited manuscript and transform it into its final form using the mock-ups you approved during the setup phase When we’re done, we’ll send you the first proof copy as a PDF for you to review. You’ll then have up to ten business days to review the PDF.

Phase 3: Review

Once you have the PDF of your book, you have up to ten business days to review the book for any lingering typos. Changes at this point will be limited to correcting any outright errors that slipped through the cracks before this stage. After you have done your review, we will input any necessary corrections you request and return an updated file that you can check to make sure these corrections were made. Once you verify that all corrections have been made, we’ll have a final, print-ready version of the book to pass along to the printer. From here, we’ll convert the book to an ebook.

The Ebook Conversion Process

The ebook conversion process is much simpler and will not require you to make any design choices. The final ebook will emulate the print book as much as possible, but due to the nature of ebooks being adaptable to a reader’s preferences, all elements are fluid. Our main focus during ebook conversion will be on accessibility and functionality. All Paper Chain ebooks are formatted with accessibility standards for impaired readers in mind so that as many readers as possible can enjoy our books. Our ebooks also include as many functional aides as possible, including page-number links that correspond to the page numbers in the print book. After your book is converted to ebook, your task will be to do a quick review of the file. But since the ebook is based on the final version of the print book, no changes should need to be made. 

What We’ll Need From You

Below is a list of everything we’ll need from you to complete the design process. Don’t stress if you don’t have all of these items now! We’ll help you get what you need. For a printable version of this list, click here.

For the Interior and Ebook
  • ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) for each format of the book (we can you help get these as part of our print on demand setup service)
  • LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) (this is optional, but highly recommended; we can you help get this as part of our print on demand setup service)
  • A fully edited manuscript that includes text for all front and back matter you want to include:
    • Dedication
    • Foreword (for nonfiction, written by an outside author)
    • Preface (for nonfiction, written by you)
    • Introduction (for nonfiction, written by you)
    • Prologue (for fiction or memoir)
    • Epilogue (for fiction or memoir)
    • Appendix
    • End notes
    • Glossary
    • Bibliography or references
    • Acknowledgments
    • About the author (typically longer than the author bio that goes on the back cover)
  • Secured permission for any excerpt from another work you wish to quote or any image you plan to include.
  • Any images that go in the book, along with their captions.
For the Cover
  • Your author name as you would like it to appear 
  • A concise book description (150–200 words)
  • Your author bio (75–150 words)
  • Your book’s price
  • Your author photo
  • Any blurbs or text that are in addition to your book description and author bio you would like to include on the back cover
  • Any other text you would like to appear on the front cover (like an “author of…” line)

Return to the Client Resources page.

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