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Mission Statement: Good Cause Marketing is dedicated to empowering people and businesses that make a contribution to the world through their products and services.

Ten Book Design Steps
(and What NOT to Do)

By Robert Gluckson, M.A.

1. Collect your design ideas whenever you have an inspiration.
Do: As you go along, save book, websites, and illustrations you like.
Don't: Wait. If you wait to think about design until you finish your book, you'll miss out on the inspirations you get as you explore other books and the internet. Your publication date will be weeks earlier if your design strategy is in place by the time you finish writing.

2. Start your Marketing Strategy.
Do: Start writing your marketing strategy so you can tell your designer who wants your book and what benefit they are looking for, or what problems your book solves.
Don't: Give your designer carte blanche without sharing who your book is for and what they want, or she'll do what she likes, not necessarily what you need to sell the book.

For example, one author decided on an image she loved before she thought about marketing her book. Her designer was able to make it work for her audience by combining two images. The goddess illustration favored by Women's New Moon Guide author Alicia Bonnett didn't really indicate that this was a book for ordinary women to celebrate New Moon rituals. Designer/illustrator Lisa Thiel's solution was to combine dancing hands – of all colors, symbolizing women from all over the world – in front of the goddess image.

3. Begin typographic design whenever inspiration strikes.
Do: Find typefaces you like and examples of layout you like and explain why. Your designer knows more about the feelings and readability and practicality of different typefaces (ALL CAPS? NO! -- except sometimes). But you'll get more of what you like if you provide material to work with.

4. Begin design early, but don't start layout.
Do: Design one chapter introductory page and one illustrated page. Collect art and books that you like and note what you like about them (typography, design, cover colors, illustrations).
Don't: Start laying out the entire book before you've got all the words ready, or you'll have to do (and/or pay for) much of the same work over again.

5. Research illustrations that meet your readers' needs in libraries and bookstores.
Do: Find pictures you like and explain why. Look over your bookshelves, the library, and especially bookstores for examples of others who face your challenges – the content you offer, the audiences you write for, the benefits they're looking for.
Don't: Copy, but do look for inspiration. Your illustrator or designer can customize your cover with insights from published work.

6. Do Google research for pictures.
Do: Use the "Google Image" tool and chooses keywords to focus on the exact illustration for the right audience. Your book appeals to different audiences so the cover should appeal to the ones who are most interested in buying. Choosing different keywords will bring up different visuals. The keywords "Fast Healthy Meals" or "Dieting" bring up different ideas -- for teens jumping over fences or skinny models with sexy smiles. Which will work best for you?

7. Look at words and pictures together.
Do: Look at type as illustration. For example, designer Camila Andres had the book title arch in a semi-circle over the cover photo, which featured arms throwing scarves. The type illustrates both the image and the contents: Creative Movement.

8. Use a designer and typographer to improve your cover, even if you are the cover artist.
Do: Collaborate for best results. Author/illustrators can present special challenges and opportunities. The author/artist knows her audience and knows what she likes. But how to use the illustration professionally? Designer Deborah Purdue repeated 16-year-old Callie Storey's dolphin drawings across the end pages of her book, Journey to Dreamland. This created action, reinforced the dream storyline, and looked great.

9. Use design to unify content.
Do: Use design to solve problems. Sometimes a book's graphic challenge is too much content. How can one image represent many topics, contributors, and places? A collage is one solution, but it's hard to communicate key points quickly. An illustration style, repeat throughout the book, helps pull it all together. For example, The Humboldt County Cookbook features many foods, locations, and historic photos. No one photo could symbolize it all. The solution was to place organic-feeling woodblock illustrations throughout the book, unifying the diverse contents.

10. Find more resources.
Do: See the Good Cause Marketing website and become a Facebook fan. See the books discussed in this article and read more articles at Email for more advice.

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