Designing a 300+ pages book

Hi all,

I’ve been asked to design a 300+ pages (informative) reading book for a client. The front and back side of the cover too. Illustrations for the book are designed already and need to be placed in each chapter. The client will deliver the book in a Word document. InDesign will be used.

Two questions:

  • How much is usually charged for this?
  • How much time does it (on average) take for someone to design this?

Kind regards,

Pretty basic questions.

Everyone has a different approach.

I typically go at 15 minutes per page. To account for
easy pages (2 minutes) [just text]
medium pages (5 minutes) [text and image]
hard pages (15 minutes) [text image/charts]
extreme (30 minutes) [text image/charts/tables]

If it hasn’t got any of those you can probably go around 5-10 minutes per page.

Then whatever your hourly rate is.

If there’s a fee for touching up images/charts/graphs etc. include that.

Basic questions indeed, but that’s good approach!

Should the designer charge anything extra if the book will be published in other languages later on? Any other important things to keep in mind?

Bear in mind with translations of text that there will be page shift. We do English to Spanish exhibit text all the time and the Spanish text is usually 1/3 longer to say the same thing. It might end up that 300page book may turn into a 400 page book with assorted image shifting.
Definitely something that has to be charged for.

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Yep, I’ve done many book translations from Irish, English, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Arabic etc.

If it’s Arabic then charge more as it’s more specialised and takes longer if you’re not a native speaker - plus you need to install the ME version of inDesign.

But if you’re smart about the setup from the start you can translate the text easy enough.

Use anchored images, paragraph styles, object styles, character styles, etc.

Use Book Panel and separate chapters - don’t name them chapter 1 2 etc. as if a chapter moves your book panel looks weird and out of order. Just name them by the title of the chapter.

There’s plenty of things you can do - running headers, footers, master pages, sync colours/styles over the book.

I’ve typeset many books in my life, largest being 3,200 pages.

Let me know if you need some more direction :slight_smile:

Don’t forget to include how many samples they will get - whether it’s 2 or 3 layout options and how many chapters/styles.

Plus how many iterations are included. I usually, for a book this size, allow up to 5 proofs (not chapter proofs whole book proofs). And limit the revisions to a reasonable amount.

I got stung before with 5 iterations of proofs for a whole book, and each new itteration was the entire document resupplied (rewritten).

Depending on the book, in my experience, you don’t often get the luxury of increasing the extent for other languages. Most of the books I do already have the rights sold to other territories before they are even printed in English, so you need to allow for a text (5th), overprinting black and all text appears on the fifth plate. That way the publisher can sell out the co-ed rights. Makes producing content-rich trade titles more cost-effective for the publisher. The 4-closet doesn’t change, just the 5th black.

As to design cost. That depends on a whole lot of factors. The publisher, your experience, your ability, the type of book, the complexity of the book, where you / the publisher are based, etc, etc. For an illustrated trade title, including photo retouching and balancing, etc, Smurf’s 4p/ph is not far off the mark.

As to timescales, the publisher should usually issue a draft schedule ahead of content delivery for you to agree to. For a 300+ pager, excluding covers (as it happens I am working on a 320-pager at the moment) I would expect the schedule to allow anywhere between 10 and 15 working days for first draft from receipt of text and images. The one I am working on at the moment has a real squeeze on the schedule and guess where the squeeze happened. For that, they are paying a bit more pp, as I am going to be working all weekend on it.

So, you see, there are too many variables to be able to give you a flat rate. With my clients, I usually negotiate a flat fee for initial design visuals (inc up to three sets of proofs), then a page rate for production of the finished book. This stage usually has first draft, then a second for editorial and layout amends from both author and editors. After that it goes to the proof reader and final tweaks are made. Last proof goes out for approval to all parties, fed back to me via the project editor, then final print-ready pdfs are made and delivered along with final live files and support (for co-eds) – making sure all relevant font licensing is in place.

Hope this helps.

Yeh a fifth plate or even just a black plate change is another way.

You can only really change the 4-col K if there are no full colour images. If there are, a fifth, overprinting, text black is the only way to ensure no registration or moire issues.

Although I had to talk a guy through the process last year about text in images - his were all illustrations and his black in Illustrator kept turning into 4 colour.

I managed to talk him over the phone and make the changes required to make it happen for him - and it worked, eventually - but it was hard over the phone, no visuals.

Eventually I got the files from him and all his black in illustrations worked perfectly.
We were then able to change the K plate only.

But every workflow is going to be different.

Definitely worth figuring this out.

For sure. Each publisher I work with has a slightly different workflow, different profiles, etc. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is that the is never a ‘one size fits all’.

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