An intro to what I learnt in traditional publishing

Cover art from various sources created by various designers. Myself included.

Cover art from various sources created by various designers. Myself included.


Traditional publishing taught me many things. Discipline, patience and lots and lots of rules I never knew existed. I like to think of them as guidelines, rather than rules. This is what I learnt as a designer in the 8 years I was in publishing.

In traditional publishing we start with the inside of a book. This is mainly because the inside process takes a lot longer to complete than a cover design.

But before all the fun design stuff begins, there is editorial and financial processes which take place. The author has to be commissioned, the editorial team organised, and the financial costs thought through. Questions like, how much will this cost the company to make? How much sales could the book make? This is taken to a commissioning meeting. Here they decide whether the book could be published. The printers are booked in advance, as well as the typesetter and editorial team.

That’s about the gist of the editorial side. A book does not just happen. It’s a thought out process done by teams of people before it reaches the hands of a designer.

Depending on deadlines and how urgent the book is, sometimes the designer gets handed a book which is not completely written yet or not even on final writing stage. When we start design on books that are still in writing, it usually leads to a frustrating experience. This is due to the fact that if the writing process of the book has not yet been completed, it can cause changes to editorial, then to design, which eventually leads to extra financial costs. So its best to submit a final and approved manuscript, before the design. Or it will result in revisiting a stage in the publishing process, wasting valuable time and money.

Well thats the intro! Let’s get started…

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