In Response to Your Inquiry: Letter to a Prospective Client

by | Feb 5, 2010

File name: 479608_54799494.Aleš-Čerin.jpgThis seems to be a week for letters. Yesterday, in response to an inquiry, I decided to respond with as much detail as possible about what I do, how the process works, what it costs, and what clients can do to control that cost. It seems to me like a basic communication to have with people I’m meeting for the first time—it’s an effort to be transparent. I need this transparency to build trust.

I need to have the trust of my clients in order to do the best job I can for them. They need to trust that I “get” what they are trying to do, that I will deliver a book that outperforms their expectations, and that I will treat them fairly.

They need me to trust that they are going to put their name on the book I’ve designed for them. The life of the book belongs to you, and my job is to help you get where you want to go.

When we have this trust, we’re going to get an outcome that will please everyone, and a book that has a life of its own.

Here’s the letter.

In Response to your inquiry, . . .

Thank you for your inquiry. Sharon Goldinger and I have worked on many books together over the years, and I have the highest opinion of her skills.

Your book sounds interesting, and you’ve made me want to have a closer look.

My company, Marin Bookworks, provides book design and production services. I design covers and book interiors, and supply any of the following services when they are needed to bring your book to completion:

  • editing
  • illustration
  • proofreading
  • indexing

Process of the Project

Here’s briefly how a project like yours might work:

  • We have a consultation to establish your goals for the book and what type of distribution you plan
  • I create three unique designs for your book cover and interior. Each represents a different way to fulfill your goal for the book.
  • Once we decide on the design, I complete the layout of the full cover and the complete book interior.
  • You receive proofs via email in PDF files that you can examine on screen or print out at your convenience.
  • If you are running a review campaign, I’ll prepare the files necessary for production of Advance Review Copies (ARCs).
  • Once the book is proofread and corrected, and an index added if necessary, I’ll produce the final reproduction files for your designated printer.
  • Once your printer signs off on the files, my job is complete.
  • At the completion of the project I turn over all rights to the designs that were used in the final production of the book so you own them outright.

Elements of the Estimate

Because books vary widely, I estimate each project separately. The estimate is integrated into my short job contract. Charges fall into these four categories:

  1. Cover design – complete design process through printer’s files
  2. Design fee – for the interior design, separate from the
  3. Layout fee – a per page fee for laying out the interior of the book. This fee varies with the complexity of the material and includes creating files to your printer’s specs. I separate these two for people who would like to buy a book design, and have the ability to get the layout done themselves.
  4. Consulting fee – my hourly fee for consulting on other publishing matters such as marketing, distribution, publishing contracts, or other matters not connected to the design and production of your book.

Fees are collected on the following milestones:

  1. At the acceptance of the estimate/contract, one-third of the total fee is due.
  2. At the acceptance of final interior and cover designs, one-third of the total fee is due.
  3. At the signoff by your printer of the reproduction files for your book, the balance of the fee is due.

What Affects the Cost

Book projects become relatively more expensive:

  • When the book contains charts, diagrams, tables, graphics or photographs
  • When the book contains sidebars, pull quotes, or other non-textual elements
  • When the book has complex typographic elements like several levels of subheads, or concurrent text streams requiring different typographic treatments
  • When the book has photographs that need to be placed in context within the text
  • When author’s alterations exceed the time allowed in the estimate
  • When more than 3 rounds of revisions are requested on designs

I’ve been producing books for many years and for a variety of publishers. It’s my pleasure to help launch self-publishers, and I really enjoy it. The best way to find out about my background and some of the recent books I’ve worked on is by heading over to my blog and reading some of the articles there.

The Samples topic in the sidebar will bring up lots of articles with design samples, and the Publishing Timeline will tell you more than you want to know about my background in publishing and graphic arts. There are many articles about the importance of book design in establishing your book in a competitive marketplace on my Articles page.

If you’re interested in working together, send me a copy of your most recent manuscript, and after I’ve had a chance to look at it we’ll have a talk and see if we are a good fit.

Thanks again for the opportunity.

Joel

Image: Stock.xchng / Aleš-Čerin

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2 Comments

  1. Joel

    Thanks, Sally, you’re very kind. Actually, one of the things I liked about your Red Hill Publishing site was the transparency with which you deal with your prospective authors. It’s great when we can learn from each other. And thanks for stopping by!

    Reply
  2. Sally Collings

    Nice letter, Joel. Very nice indeed. I love that you’ve managed to be warm, transparent, clear and professional, all at the same time – a rare mix!
    You’ve inspired me as I write similar letters to potential author/clients, letting them know what Red Hill Publishing offers them.

    Reply

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