As we have previously seen, designing the cover is an important aspect of the book. The cover is what grabs the reader’s eye and without it, potentially no books would be read. However, once you have grabbed their attention, into the story they go. No matter how good the story is, if the typesetting is clunky, it makes the story feel clunky. If pictures are used but do not reflect the story, instead of enhancing the story it can bring the reader out and disrupt the story perhaps leading to a bad review. For this reason, typesetting is as important as the cover design.

Typesetting is done in InDesign. You have to set your document up to  match the brief given. Once you have your document, you need to import your text. Before you even change font etc, you need to make sure you have no mistakes in the text. This could include double/triple spaces, hyphens or en/em dashes used incorrectly or general mistakes. Using InDesign these can be found and changed quickly through the “find” option.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 23.16.01Once done, we can then set up baseline grids which are invisible lines that align our text. We can see on the picture to the left, the blue lines — similar to that of old school textbooks — are the baseline grids and our Row, row, row your boat stay to that line.

After this, you need to style your text. This is done via the Paragraph Styles and Character Styles. Paragraph Styles enable you to change the entire paragraph and character styles enable you to change odd words/characters in that paragraph. Similar to Word in that you can choose size, font-type, weight and colour it also enables you to add drop characters to every new paragraph, change leading, kerning and other things as standard.

Within InDesign you can also add things to ‘Master Pages’. This means, whatever you put here can apply to the rest of the pages. You can now add running heads and page numbers to this master page and it will add it to all of the recto or verso pages you want. Important for if you want to add chapter titles to each page of that chapter.

Cover Design

This week we had a look at cover design. Becky informed us that to get the cover design that everyone wanted, it takes a lot of time. Sometimes, it can take ages for editor, design, production and author to agree on a design of the book cover. A the end of the day, the designer gets last say on whether the proposed idea is good enough or how to change it. It is part of the designer’s job to get illustrators and to IMAG0823_1_1make sure the brief is easy enough to understand. Somewhere where people show their illustrations is the website http://www.hireanillustrator.com/i/. Here you can look through people’s illustrations, request portfolios and submit pieces of work to be seen.

Becky showed us her work on “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. We can see the multiple versions that this book went through. All similar but all different. The Great Gatsby was the influence for this book. It took many, many changes and tweaks before the final edition of the book was agreed on.


After this we discussed cover grids. This is done using InDesign. You start with the measurements of the book needed, add a 5mm bleed around the entire book. It is easier to do any illustration changes andScreen Shot 2015-05-11 at 09.42.48 assembly in Photoshop. The publishing house will give you the dimensions needed but you must stick to them. In Photoshop, you need to include the bleed into your page dimensions so that when you put it into InDesign it fills out to the bleed line. This is so the colour is continuous to the very edge of the book cover, allowing for any extra paper the cutter might put on. Similarly, this is why we need to make sure that nothing important is near the edge of the cover as this could be cut off if the cutter is slightly off. The image shown is one for a picture book.

From this you need to add in grids. These are just the edge of the cover (without bleed), the spines and (if a hardback) the flaps. Wherever the cover is to fold, you have to add fold marks. These are just little straight lines of dots that you place on the grid lines (N.B: Grid lines do not appear on the exported and printed version of the cover but fold marks do).

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 10.00.33Once all this is done, then you can get to the fun part of designing the cover.




Typography is the appearance of printed matter. Type can influence how someone feels and thinks about what they are reading. However, thef84d20b5-fd8f-41e3-9786-d3c2cc659aac colour, size and ‘jazziness’ of the type can influence it too. The type ‘Trajan’ is used for both Game of Thrones and Sex and the City. Both totally different products and genres but due to how the type is coloured, it changes how the reader sees the type. We can see that the points, kerning and tracking are all different between the two, giving it a different feel.

We then discussed the different terminologies use within typography ( can be found in the Glossary). Within the book, typography plays a very important part, not just for the reader but for the publisher too. Typography can reduce or increase the number of pages needed and the cost of printing. For the reader, if type has been arranged and made to flow, it makes for a much easier reading experience and means the reader might be more inclined  to enjoy the book and recommend to a friend — massive incentive for a publisher to get a good typesetter.

This is where copy editing and production cross. The typesetter have to correct the suggestions made by the copy-editor. It might also be where they differ in opinion. Bad copy-editors and proof marks make for an unhappy typesetter. To learn a little about copy-editing, please have a look at the copy-editing tags!

Becky talked us through the differences in quotation marks too. Many people just press the standard keys on the keyboard for both apostrophe’s and quotation marks; ‘ “. Whilst for the rest of the world this is acceptable, for a typesetter, having to use the correct marks in important. The standard marks on the key board are inch and feet marks. The true quotation marks are to be found by using either insert symbol or using these short cuts:

Apostrophe = alt + ] = ‘

     = alt + shift + ] = ’

Quotation Marks = alt + [ = “

                 = alt + shift  + [ = ”


As well as the usual fonts that every Mac and PC have, there are font websites where you can find a different font and download it to use in your text. Some are paid for, some are free and the best free font website is fontsquirrel. Here we can find new text that has been designed by people for public use.

We finished by receiving different items and trying to create our own fonts. Mine was a coat hanger — have a go!


Design and Production

IMAG0731_1_1So today we were introduced to our Design and Production lecturer, Becky Chilcott. She is a freelance book designer and her most famous work includes Jacqueline Wilson and the new Harry Potter covers. Her work is scattered throughout every genre of book and every publisher. To have her as a lecturer is a great privilege and pleasure.


Our first lecture covered the basics of design and production. No, you don’t have to be a good illustrator to be a good designer, just have imagination. Becky gave us a blurb of books, some we knew, some we didn’t and then showed us the cover and this was seeing if we thought the cover reflected the story or not. The new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover has caused a divide in opinion and it certainly did this in the class. Whilst discussing it, we said the cover didn’t tell you anything about the book and took away from the brilliant union of Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake.

A few other blurbs were shown as well as their covers and then we were shown what brief the designer gives to the illustrator. It has to be open enough for creative freedom but closed enough that you get what you want from the illustrator and so it ties into the book. Most illustrators and many designers don’t actually read the book before hand so the brief is really important to get the tone of the cover right.

Following this, we saw how many changes a cover goes through before the publishers all agree on one. Becky literally creates a hundred different versions of the same thing but slightly tweaked until everyone is happy.

Seeing the amount of work that goes into the design of a cover really brought home how much time goes into one book. It gave me a greater appreciation for traditionally published work. I shall be adding a glossary page to this blog for all the new words I shall be learning in this module so check it out.

Copy Right

Still within the realm of a desk editor’s role we have copyright. Although there is usually a rights team within the publishing house, the desk editor still needs to know a little about copyright to help the author with their work. The basic rule is that if someone makes something it belongs to them. The author has the right to be identified as the writer and their name holds copyright for 70 years after their death. This means to use someone’s work you probably need to pay someone a lot of money. As the material belongs to the author it means you cannot change the content when using it in future work.

Within copyright there is a fair dealing clause. This tells you roughly how much you can quote before permission is needed. This means that for academic work, quotes can be used to back up points. A rough guide is that 400 words from one full book is around the limit for free quotes before permission is needed. Obviously, this can change dependant on how long the work is. 2 lines from a 10 line poem constitutes a large proportion of that piece of work meaning permission would be needed. If the quote is used at the beginning of the book and has no bearing on the topic of that book then permission is needed regardless of how much is quoted.

Pictures work in much the same way. Again copyright belongs to the owner until 70 years after their death. If there are people photographed in the pictures used then permission from these people is also needed before it can used in the book.  With pictures (and sometimes written) copyright can be assigned to a publisher but often only for a specified amount of time or for a specified type of book. If something is found on the internet, it generally cannot be used as you never know who the true owner is. If you are trying to get permission you have to tell the author/publishing house where you are publishing (ie country) and what you are publishing (ie what type of book – academic/fiction). Unless the author has given copyright, the publisher never automatically owns copyright.

Within copyright, liable is included. Anything said disparagingly should be used with caution by author and publisher as you could be liable meaning the person who the remarks are about can sue for defamation.

That is the end of the editing section of this module. After Christmas we shall be looking at the production side of publishing with the cover designer for JK Rowling! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!


Desk Editor Part two

So last time, I left you on what a desk editor does. Following that we had an exam in copy editing (results to be handed out later). We continued with what a Desk Editor would do in their role within the publishing house.

Generally, author’s would proofread their own work just to make sure the copy-editor and typesetter hadn’t altered their work too much that it had lost its integrity. The proofreading marks are used mainly for the typesetter so that they know where things need to go on the page. I discovered that proofreading isn’t really my forte in the publishing world after a little exercise where Andrew showed us mistake by the author and I seemed to miss quite a few. However, if when you are proofreading, there are many mistakes per page it suggests your copy-editor is not very good and you would probably not use them again. Good copy editors are hard to get and even harder to get cheaply.

Traditionally, the author proof reads via blue/black ink, the typesetter with red and designer with green. The typesetter will charge you for any blue-black ink rectifications that are needed.

Multi-author books can lead to issues on copy editing due to the differences in writing, style and format of the pages. This has to be taken into consideration when giving a copy editor such a manuscript.


Desk Editor

A desk editor is a copy editor who is employed by a publishing house. Although they are copy editors by nature, the main role is to read manuscripts and decide which freelance editor would be the best person to edit the text. They have to proof read the text, leaving the standard marks so that the freelancer knows what the publishing house wants in terms of English vs American spellings, heading formats etc. As a desk editor, you would change certain parts of the manuscript before you gave it to the freelance editor. Mainly the complicated stuff so you know its done to your standard and specification and it would be cheaper, more complicated changes means you have to pay the freelancer more.

Once the manuscript comes back from the freelancer, you have to check it against your original notes to make sure that the freelancer has done as you asked and fully edited the piece. As soon as you are happy with everything and the layout of the manuscript is ok, you then send the text to the typesetter. Here you need to tell them font, spacing, book size,how many blank pages etc. Sending them a previous book that you want this one to look like often helps as you usually use the same typesetter’s so they would know what design that book was. Most importantly, you need to inform the typesetter of the date you want the proofs back. The typesetter also needs to know how you want the proofs sent back. Whether that be via pdf or hardcopy, how many you want sending out, if you want them sent to you or the author and how much the entire text will cost when bound. Once all this has been decided, you then need to check the proofs. Have the typesetter set it to you specifications? Is it the right font, is it set right? The author also needs to check this proof to make sure that they are happy for their work to be published as it is.

The next thing is the design of the front cover. In trade, this is usually handled by the marketing team as the cover is usually the best way to sell a book. However, in academic, the cover is usually just something that covers the book, the title is the important thing. Either way, if the desk editor has to do the cover, then it is sent to the in-house design team or another freelancer. Whichever way, marketing team or desk editor, the cover does have to pass the desk editor at some point for approval.

If there are no delays whatsoever, then the book could be published in 3 weeks. This never happens though as everyone usually has other projects that they also need to do, so often there is  a queue per stage. The copy editor will have 5 manuscripts to look at meaning it might be 5 weeks before you receive it back from them, it might take the typesetter’s 3 weeks to get your proofs to you and then you have to wait for the author to approve the proofs. All these things take time so a few months is normal even a year.

And that is a Desk Editor’s job in a nutshell! See you next week for the penultimate copy editing post!