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Experienced designer

Experienced designer or intern – which would you choose?

With freelancers playing an ever more important role in the publishing industry, we all have decisions to make regarding the level of experience we require – and the amount of our budgets we’re willing to spend. In this double-header, freelance designer Annette Peppis and Publishing/Editorial Assistant Percie Edgeler share their insights into how to make the best choice for each project.

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Experienced designer

InDesign for publishers: Annette Peppis interview

Ahead of the upcoming training courses InDesign and Photoshop for publishers, BookMachine are running a series of interviews with industry professionals to understand how they use the tools at work. The following interview by Katie Dodson is with Annette Peppis, virtual team leader at Annette Peppis & Associates. Annette’s work was recently commended in the ‘Best Website’ category at the Richmond Business Awards.

1) How frequently do you use InDesign and when did you start using it regularly?

I use InDesign every day (and Photoshop/Illustrator occasionally). I switched over from using Quark XPress in 2004; I was freelancing pretty much full-time at BBC Books, and attended an in-house course on transitioning from Quark to InDesign. Almost immediately, I was hooked.

2) What methods do you use to keep updated and improve on your skills?

I am a Creative Cloud user, so have access to the latest updates. However, I only update occasionally as the latest versions often have bugs when they are first launched. I improve my skills by googling things that I don’t know how to do and then follow with tutorials. Adobe have quite a good Help section, but I often prefer to follow tutorials on YouTube.

3) Would you mind sharing a top trick with us?

Always use style sheets. You will save yourself time, save your clients money, and make it easier for others to follow your styling. InDesign provides Paragraph style sheets (for overall formatting of typography), Character style sheets (to apply to individual characters or groups of words) and Object style sheets (so you can set the style of boxes, for example). If a global style change needs to be made, altering the style sheet will alter every instance within your document.

4) Could you please share a couple of links to your work?

You can see a selection of my design work in my Bookmachine portfolio:

https://bookmachine.org/people/annette/portfolio/ ,

or more examples of my work on my website’s publishing portfolio pages

http://graphic-designer-richmond.co.uk/portfolio/publishing/lifestyle/ .

5) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to improve how they use InDesign?

If you are a beginner, go on a course. It really pays off in the long run. If you are a fairly accomplished user, lynda.com has some good tutorials or you could google problems as you encounter them and follow online tutorials.

6) What do you use InDesign for mainly?

Just about everything! In the past two months, I have used it for website banners and sliders, book covers and text pages, brochures, exhibition banners, packaging and logo design (though I switch to Illustrator to refine and finalise logos).

If you too would like to improve on how you use In Design/Photoshop at work, you can register on these courses by following the links below:

InDesign: http://bit.ly/2lD5yTw
Photoshop: http://bit.ly/2m4P8Ey

Experienced designer

How to brief a book designer

This is a guest post by Annette Peppis. Annette is an enthusiastic early member of BookMachine. Annette helps publishers attract more readers by creating a professional look that builds their business and reflects their values, and offers smart and stylish solutions. You can read Annette’s blog about about graphic design here.

Anxious about briefing a designer? Don’t be! Any designer worth their salt will want to help you project the right image, communicate successfully with your readers and get your message across clearly, so will help you write the brief. There are a lot of things you can do to make life easier for both of you and ensure you get the result you want. Here are a few ideas:

1) What is your target market?

Think about who your target market is. A design aimed at women of a certain age will not attract young males, and vice versa. Don’t say ‘everyone’ – there will never be a design that appeals to all.

2) Who are your competitors?

If using someone out of house, tell her as much as you can about your publishing business, and let her know who your competitors are so she can check out what they are doing – you’ll want to differentiate yourself from them, while making sure your book fits into its genre. Show her examples of successful books which are similar to yours.

3) Mood

Think about the type of image you’d like to portray: cool, calm and collected or bright, vibrant and outgoing? Sophisticated and professional or reliable and friendly? Colour and typefaces can be used to create mood.

4) Colour

Your designer will have some knowledge of colour psychology. It’s important to get your branding or book to look right for its genre and target market.


Orange is a friendly colour, vibrant and energetic. However, it can also be perceived as cheap. Blue is traditionally favoured by business publishers; it inspires confidence and trust.

5) Fonts

Each font has its own personality and evokes different moods, and your designer will know which fonts will suit your subject matter. Don’t rule out a typographic-only cover; often these are the strongest.

6) Image

Rather than being specific, give your designer a synopsis of the book and some sample chapters to read. Designers are creative and will come up with good concepts.

7) Style

What kind of visual style do you think would be suitable for the book? Modern or traditional? Simple or complex? Techie or new-age? Clean and bright or subtle or dark?

8) Cost

What is your budget? Good design is worth paying for, but it can be disheartening to discuss a brief that you later find you cannot afford. Make sure you ask for a quote and agree terms in advance. (The book design is only part of the story; you may want to get other marketing materials printed too, and may require a micro-site near launch.)

9) Time

Good design takes time and collaboration to get right. Don’t expect a designer who you have never worked with before to produce a miracle result overnight! It can happen – but it probably won’t. Good designers are can be booked up in advance by regular clients, so planning ahead is advisable.

Once you have discussed all this and more (size, extent, etc), you and your designer should between you be able to write a brief and a schedule. This may seem like a lot of work, but if you want your designer to really ‘get’ you, it’s well worth the effort. It’s important to trust your designer. A good designer will have trained professionally – usually at degree level and will have the skill and experience to interpret your brief and provide a solution that both looks good and does the job it should. Giving them freedom within the constraints of the brief will result in a design to be proud of, and ultimately more sales for you.

BookMachine Connect to retire

BookMachine Connect (AKA BookMachine.me) is retiring on Friday 15th July. It’s had a good innings, but a new, shinier model is up-and-running and we are sure you’ll get on just fine.

What happens to my BookMachine profile now?
You need to ‘join’ the main BookMachine site and build a new one. It’s super quick, really intuitive, has better search functionality – soon we’ll be rolling out a whole host of other new features too.

If you are a paid-up promoted member we will move your portfolio content for you. If you haven’t already, please email us asap.

What will show up in the Water Cooler on the new site?
Everyone in the Water Cooler can see when you join, build your profile, add projects or recommend others. It’s a social online hub, and you will get a more immersive experience.

I want to join the ‘promoted members’ and have my profile stand out.
Easy. Simply become a member and we will send you welcome instructions and actively help promote your profile. Plus you can get into all BookMachine events for free and get other goodies.

How do I show off the projects I’ve worked on?
Annette Peppis (see below) has uploaded images of projects she has worked on, and tagged them with key terms. This means that when anyone on the site searches for ‘book design’, for example, they will find examples of the work Annette has done.

AnnetteThe BookMachine team will be building a whole host of new features for you over the next few months, so get involved and we hope to see you at the water cooler!

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