Earlier this year, I had a chance to go to the Writers' Institute conference in Madison, where I did several great learning sessions with Jane Friedman, Nathan Bransford, agent Laura Biagi (super helpful workshop on opening pages) and more!
One of the sessions I enjoyed the most was about book design, by the ladies at Little Creek Press. Since this is an area I think more and more writers want to become familiar with, I invited Kristin and her team to do a quick Q&A session. Here's what they had to say:
Thanks so much for being here! For starters, tell us about the services Little Creek Press offers. How should writers think of it as a resource?
We offer strong design services along with resources not necessarily accessible to the non-designer/publisher, support and lots of hand holding through the process. We work with each author to make sure the final product is well-edited, marketable and, of course, very beautiful. The relationship we have as vendors with the major distributors along with our fulfillment, distribution and accounting are definitely a plus to any author. To learn more about our process, check out our website: www.littlecreekpress.com
How did you get started? What drew you to book design and publishing?
Owner Kristin Mitchell had been a graphic designer for 20 some years and started to see a need for well-designed books with the support necessary to put out a really great book. After many years as a full service design agency, we had all the resources, i.e., photographers, editors, writers, printers, etc… in place. Little Creek Press was started based on that need and the relationships we had. In the last three years, we have helped authors publish over 30 books with another 20 or more this year.
What are some of the key things writers should consider (or questions to ask themselves) when thinking about what they want or need in a cover design?
Does the designer I’m working with have experience in cover design? Don’t settle for a cover you don’t love. Does my cover evoke an emotion that would make a reader have to purchase it? Is my type legible, does the image (if there is one) tie into the story in a way that either sparks curiosity or is relatively obvious? Did we mention, make sure the designer you work with has experience in book cover design?
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that the interior of a book also needs design. What tips would you share with writers when thinking about page layout and formatting?
As obvious as it sounds, people forget that READABILITY needs to be the main focus when designing an interior. Minor adjustments to line spacing and margins can make a huge difference in the ability of the eye to easily move around the page. And, of course, make sure the font/typeface you choose is pleasant and easy on the eye. If you have lots of text, make sure to choose a serif font. Children’s books can be a fun, yet readable font. Margins are a huge consideration. Keep in mind that you will lose some space in the gutter; we always make sure our interior margins are larger than the rest of the page.
What’s your personal favorite part about what you do?
The ability and the honor to turn people’s vision into a reality. A frequent statement we hear: “You have made my dream come true!” We have a unique set of skills and relationships and the opportunity to meld those skills and the resources for an amazing outcome can be magical!
What are some of the top questions authors ask you? Or, what are some aspects of book design that seem most confusing or unknown to authors?
Hands down: “What does it cost to publish a book?” “How many books will I sell?” There is a lot of confusing information out in the world. There are many online publishers and packages out there for people to choose from, it really can be very overwhelming! Each book is different and must be treated as such – which is why people come to us for the customization they get with their book. We tell our authors the best way to have a successful book is to define your version of success. Is success publishing a book as a legacy to you and your family? Is it to provide information and educate? The author also has to realize that we can give them a great end product, but they are the best representation of their book. The books that sell the most are the books whose authors are willing to put the time and effort into getting it out there. We can only do so much.
What’s the one thing you want to tell authors?
Define your end goal and then find the best people (publisher, editor, printer, etc.) to help you reach or exceed that goal. AND be open to constructive criticism, the goal of the publisher is to make sure you look really, really good and sometimes that means significant editing or a shift in ideas. The best authors we have are the ones that trust us to do our job!
What’s next on your plate?
This year we have over 20 books to publish! In September, we will host the fourth annual Southwest Wisconsin Book Festival in Mineral Point, WI. Our festival, hosted by Little Creek Press, will have 12 to 14 workshops from some really great presenters on multiple topics. For more information: www.swwibookfestival.com
Thanks again! Below are a few add'l tips from the conference session back in April. And if anyone's in the Wisconsin area, check out the book festival. Michael Perry is a fantastic and hilarious keynote.