custom book publishing

Count the Seven Fruits of Israel: Before and After

One of our favorite parts of the publishing process is the joy of bringing a client's project to life. When our custom book client, Polly Jordan, came to us with her fun idea for a lift-the-flap children's board book, we were excited to do just that. In order to better explain her vision, Polly showed us her mock-up of Count the Seven Fruits of Israel, which she delicately made by hand out of cut paper. Working with her unique concept and colorful paper-cut illustrations, we were able to make her idea into a reality. Along with the creation of die-cut flaps, the client also desired the addition of a handle that would allow small children to carry the book along more easily. The following before and after images highlight this transformation process. 

Here you can see the mock-up cover on the left beside the final cover on the right. 


One can compare an interior spread from the initial mock-up with the finished product below. We take pride in quality manufacturing and materials, which were especially crucial in the function of the flaps, handles, and rounded corners. 


Here is a more detailed look at a flap, which opens to reveal the inside of the pomegranate.


This is another before-and-after look at a different spread. The integration of the glossary directly onto the background and the addition of a scroll behind the verse added interest to these pages. 

You can purchase Count the Seven Fruits of Israel on our store. Have a book idea you would like to make tangible? Learn more about our work, and we would love to help you create a professional, quality product that stands the test of time.   

What to do before publishing a book, Part 1: Create a Sales Plan

A sales plan is critical to making your book successful—and will be your guide in almost every decision you face in design and printing.

Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.

Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.


Key questions to answer as you create your sales plan:

Who is your target audience? If you’re publishing a book for an anniversary, how large is your company, community, or organization, and how many within this group do you expect to actually purchase the book? If the book is for a more general audience, how many do you think you can sell within three months?

Why does this matter? You need to know how large your target market is to determine how many books you can conceivably sell, and consequently, how many books you should print in your first run.

Where do you plan on selling the book? Your website, local stores, national book store chains (Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.), Amazon, your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This will determine how many access points you have to your target audience. If you’re only selling your book on your website or in your gift shop, this may limit the number you sell.

Do you need (or want) to make money on the book? Some of our clients only want to cover the costs of production, others want to donate profits to the organization or another nonprofit, and some see the book as an opportunity to build market share or extend the company/organization brand.

Why does this matter? This will determine how important the unit cost is in your decision. If you don’t need/want to profit off the book, then a smaller print run with a higher unit cost isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, if you have a large target audience and you intent to profit off the book, then a larger print run with a lower unit cost is ideal.

How will you use the book? Is it a gift to donors or employees? A business development tool? A sales piece? A product for your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This determines certain quality decisions—hard cover or soft cover, black and white or full color, dust jacket, etc. For example, if the book is a gift to donors who give a specified amount during a capital campaign, the book’s perceived value/quality needs to be fairly high. A cheaply produced book given to high-dollar donors undermines the gesture. 

These four questions are critical starting points for your sales plan. You may also consult friends and family with experience—anyone who has published or sold a book before, or anyone who has experience in marketing/sales. You can also refer to writers’ blogs online for helpful input on marketing and promoting your book—these resources may also have personal stories that resonate with your goal and may help clarify how to publish and sell your book.

Book by Committee: Creating an Effective Steering Committee for Your Book Project

Publishing a book is a lot of work and, traditionally, organizations and businesses taking on book projects dedicate a group of people to act as a steering committee. Whether it’s a bicentennial book for your city, an anniversary book for your company, a history book for your museum or nonprofit, or even a collectible book for your capital campaign, a steering committee will give the project momentum.

When Columbus, Ohio celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, it brought together donors, sponsors, and stakeholders from leading organizations and businesses across Columbus. Its bicentennial book Revealed: Columbus evidenced the diversity in input by capturing a wide cross-section of Columbus culture.

When Columbus, Ohio celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, it brought together donors, sponsors, and stakeholders from leading organizations and businesses across Columbus. Its bicentennial book Revealed: Columbus evidenced the diversity in input by capturing a wide cross-section of Columbus culture.


But book-by-committee can be tough, as it involves multiple stakeholders and opinions. It helps to focus on a few key objectives when you’re assembling your team:

1.    Your goal is to manage expectations and outcomes—not production: You need a team of people who can help manage what the book will look like, what purpose it will serve, who it will be sold/given to, which company will handle its execution, and how much it should cost. You may help assemble materials for the book, or assign people to approve copy, photos, etc., but this group should not be responsible for actual production details, such as formatting the acknowledgements page or designing the cover. These are details best handled by a publishing partner.

2.    You will need diverse voices: A successful book project will incorporate a marketing and sales plan, compelling content and vision, and follow-through. It will help to assemble a team with varied experience either within your company or your community. City bicentennials, for example, often involve business and civic leaders across several industries.

3.    You will need a strong leader: This person sets the goal and timeline, manages competing opinions, determines the course of publication, and communicates with company or community leaders on progress and outcomes.

4.    You will need a project coordinator: This is the person who will communicate with your publishing partner. He/she will assemble and deliver content for the book, approve drafts and proofs, and relay feedback between your publishing partner and steering committee. This role is crucial—the process can break down if too many people try to communicate with your publishing partner.

Custom books are an investment in time and creativity, and they are only successful when they have internal support and a group of committed people. Don’t let the committee become too cumbersome, and don’t let competing opinions halt progress. With clearly defined roles, most obstacles that pop up during publication can be overcome.

What to do with an anniversary book, Part 2: Nonprofits

In my first post in this series, I focused on anniversary books for universities—why they matter for an anniversary celebration and how to use them as a complement to other anniversary projects and events. 

Nonprofit anniversaries are very different, though. Because a nonprofit relies on outside donors to fund all projects, it must strike a careful balance between showcasing the organization’s legacy and its donors, and spending too much donor money on a project that is not seen as mission-specific. When we work with nonprofits, we often start at this juncture: what kind of book will meet the needs of the celebration and honor supporters while making the best possible use of anniversary funds.

The key to achieving both is to think of an anniversary book as more than a one-time thank you gift. A book should be used in outreach and fundraising and can even be used for recruitment and mission development.

Here are some ideas:

1. Thank you gift. This is the starting place for any anniversary book. Donors give time and money and honoring their support is critical to your mission. Some nonprofits will give a book free-of-charge to all donors, while some only give to top donors—this is your choice. Remember that your book should underscore who you are and what you do and remind your donors why they support you. People donate to nonprofits because there is an emotional return-on-investment—we love feeling like we can make a difference. A book gives you an opportunity to rekindle these feelings.

2. Fundraising gift. Books make excellent gifts in fundraising campaigns. The value of a book increases dramatically when tied to a fundraising campaign, and you will earn well beyond the unit cost of the book in donations. If you plan on using your anniversary book in this way, though, it needs to be a high-quality book. A cheap book may optimize your per-unit return, but it doesn’t set you up well for the following year.

Jan Thrope’s book, InnerVisions: Grassroots Stories of Truth and Hope, celebrates the difficult but worthwhile work happening in Cleveland, Ohio. Thrope often gives this book to area nonprofits so that they can in turn use it as a fundraising tool.

3. Outreach collateral. Books are great conversation starters. When meeting with organizations that may partner with you or support you financially, a book serves as a high-quality leave-behind. A book can tell your story in more depth than a meeting ever will and it will stick around their office longer. They may throw out your pamphlets, but they will hold onto your book.

A great example of this is the book we created for the Clinton County Foundation. The book celebrates the people and places of Clinton County and it’s given to elected officials, media, businesses, local leaders, and others. It reminds visitors and community members alike that Clinton County is more than a place, it’s a community of people with lives and histories and dreams. It’s a powerful leave-behind.

4. Talent recruitment. Finding employees who believe in your mission is crucial to building a successful organization. People are drawn to organizations where they feel like they fit in, where they are valued, where they can see themselves making a difference. A book can engage potential employees with your history and identity in a way that an application can’t.

5. Mission development. This is an extension of recruitment. When employees feel engaged with the history and successes of an organization—even those successes they weren’t around to witness or take part in—they feel more engaged with the mission. A book celebrating your organization’s legacy can help your employees feel pride in your organization’s accomplishment and fuel their drive to build on your successes.

While not an anniversary book, the book we published for Ronald McDonald House Charities was used to highlight the history and mission of the organization. It showcased in a unique coffee-table book form (the front cover opened like doors) all of the Ronald McDonald Houses around the world. It was given to each house as a display item, so that visiting supporters could see the international impact of the organization, families could feel part of something bigger, and employees could see the breadth and depth of the organization they were working for.

An anniversary book is as useful as you make it. It can languish in a warehouse to be pulled out for the occasional thank you gift, or it can become a central part of your storytelling and outreach. The former will make your book a waste of valuable donor funds, while the latter will make your book a critical part of your mission.

Not Just Another Cookbook: Before and After

We don’t always have the opportunity to share a “before” image of an Orange Frazer creation. If you know our lead designer, Brittany, you know that she usually makes the magic happen with nothing but a manuscript and her own creative juices as her guide. However, for our recent cookbook project with custom client Colleen Brethen, we were given a mock-up of the book that she had been using prior to professionally publishing her recipes. It was a spiral bound collection she had put together herself, with a plastic cover (to protect from splattering, no doubt!), and cardstock pages. She asked us to create a glossy, professionally designed cookbook for her, and that we did! Colleen’s project had our creative team drooling every single day (it could be scientifically verified that our collective calorie intake quadruples when we are designing cookbooks), and we’re so excited to share the “before and after” images (excuse us while we break out the office cookies).

book publishing services, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, professional design, Not Just Another Cookbook
book publishing services, professional design, Not Just Another Cookbook

If you have a collection of personal or family recipes—bound or unbound, scribbled on recipe cards or typed out in chapters—we would love to help you create a professional and memorable cookbook that generations after you will cherish.