Book Design

Preparing Your Manuscript for Publication with Orange Frazer Press: Less is More

The book publishing process, despite its romantic underpinnings and great aspirations, is also a production process—one involving design, formatting, printing, shipping, warehousing, and a number of other lesser known (but very important) procedures. Of these, formatting a manuscript for publication is often the most confusing part for our authors and clients. 865021_84329536

To preface, there are many book “publishing” services that are essentially printing services. They operate as “publishers” but will ask that you format your manuscript as a PDF and design your cover and interior pages. They will print and bind your book, but you will be doing the hard work of putting together a professional-looking book that reflects the integrity of your work.

Orange Frazer Press, however, is a full-service publisher, in that we cover everything from page formatting, design, and e-book conversion to warehousing, shipping, and order fulfilling. Because services like ours are a bit more detailed (and thus a bit rarer in today’s industry), we are sometimes faced with manuscripts that are already designed by the client, which, surprisingly, makes our work more difficult. Sounds counterintuitive, right?

Here’s why. As a professional book publishing service, we use a variety of design tools and programs to make sure that images are sharp and print-ready, pages are correctly formatted and designed, and covers are compelling and elegant. Some clients format and design their own pages before even reaching out to publishers, and by the time we receive their manuscripts, we are actually faced with the prospect of undoing many of their (labor-intensive) hours of formatting work. This is a truly heartbreaking process (believe me—telling a client that you have to remove several hundred inserted photos in a Word document is painful for all parties involved). We could print your book as is from a PDF, but we really care about the quality of your work, and we want it to look as professional as possible.

To save our clients time and energy, and to make the production process more efficient (thus saving our clients money along the way—less time spent reformatting means less money put into the production process), we have put together a pre-production guide for getting your manuscript ready for publication.

  1. Create your manuscript in a Word document. For better or worse, Microsoft Word is the industry standard for word processing and is the most easily transferrable to other programs. If you don’t have Microsoft Word, you can also use Wordpad (for a PC) or Textedit (for a Mac). Wordpad and Textedit are stripped down word processing programs, and they are both free and easy to use. Using Word Perfect, Microsoft Works, or other Word alternatives can actually make the formatting more difficult for both you and our production team.
  2. Save your file as .rtf (rich text format). Rich text format is the only way (aside from a PDF) to truly preserve any underlined, italicized, or bolded words and phrases. And it is easily transferrable for us.
  3. Keep all image files and text files in separate folders. When it comes time to insert your images into the manuscript, we will sit down and go through placements with you, and you will have the opportunity to approve or nix each one individually. Microsoft Word was not built to correctly place and align images for books, and images inserted into these documents will negatively affect text wrapping, margins, and image resolution. By properly labeling your images (not by page number, as page numbers will likely change when we transfer over your manuscript and determine the paper size) and keeping all images in separate files, we can very easily format and insert each one individually.
  4. Allow us to design the cover, if at all possible. We have spent twenty-six years designing covers that will stand out on shelves, in sell sheets, and as Amazon icons. We have a design team that makes each book a unique reflection of its client and story, and we check with our clients to make sure that the cover is what they envisioned for the book.

If you have any questions about these or other factors as your prepare your manuscript for publication with OFP, just let us know! You can always email [email protected], or give us a call at the office and speak with our Project Manager.

Why "Cheap and Easy" Book Publishing Services Don't Always Cut It

Redefining Publishing In a recent article for TechCrunch, “How to Self-Publish a Bestseller: Publishing 3.0,” James Altucher traces the movement of publishing from the traditional, gatekeeper (or acquisition) model to today’s world of alternative, independent publishing. He also redefines publishing, arguing that it is no longer a difference between  traditional vs. self-publishing, but rather, a difference between professional and unprofessional publishing. A book could be traditionally published and remain unprofessional—with a poor cover or a lackluster marketing effort—or a book could be self-published with an excellent cover designer, editor, copy editor, and publicist and be a top-notch, professional product.

Our editor, John Baskin (right), working with custom book publishing client, Phil Nuxhall (left).

He traces the evolution of publishing through three primary stages: publishing 1.0 is the traditional, gatekeeper model (a system besieged by inefficiency and challenged by digital innovation), publishing 2.0 is the “cheap and easy” online self-publishing boom of 2010, and publishing 3.0 is the movement toward professional, well-orchestrated, self-published books.

At Orange Frazer, we welcome publishing 3.0, and here’s why.

Publishing 3.0 prizes craft, insisting that the best books require compelling and well-designed covers, impeccable editing and proofing, and smart publicity. With over three million books published every year, publishing 3.0 understands that only the professionally published books will stand out, and that traditional, capital-P-Publishers in New York are not necessarily the route to the most professional product. Altucher notes that the best of the best in the industry are moving into this new age of publishing; this is certainly what we have done at Orange Frazer.

Publishing 2.0: Cheap, Easy, Accessible, and Ubiquitous 

At Orange Frazer, we have been helping clients custom publish books for twenty-six years, and our book publishing services have evolved in that time to meet an ever-shifting demand. A few years ago, a parallel industry (publishing 2.0) emerged, an online, self-publishing behemoth with low barriers to entry and unbelievable potential. It seemed like every other week we were hearing about the latest “stars” of self-publishing. The story was always the same: they started off with a few Kindle self-published titles, sold and sold and sold until they hit the tens of thousands, and then the large, deep-pocketed publisher swooped in to pick them up and make them famous (this is the part of the story where they start selling hundreds of thousands of books, and, if you’re Penguin and you happened to pick up Fifty Shades of Grey, you are giving all of your employees $5000 Christmas bonuses, too).

Online self-publishing was, and still is, cheap and easy. You write your book in a Word document, upload the finished manuscript, create a cover using the provided tools, and that’s it. With a few clicks your book is available to the world, and you are an author.

This was an incredible move forward technologically, and it opened up the worlds of reading, writing, and book publishing to thousands that would not otherwise have been privy to them. The industry has employed thousands through various online outlets—Snapfish, Kindle Select, CreateSpace, Lulu, etc.—and it has made writing a viable career for many Americans.

Publishing 3.0: Professional Book Publishing Services

But this route isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for every book. Publishing 3.0 is a move toward a high-quality, finished, professional product. Take book covers, for example. An experienced book designer breaks down the elements of a successful book cover—the primary colors, the font, the text size, the image (is it literal or conceptual?), and even its associated genre (does it say mystery, crime, romance, literary fiction?). Book designers spend years perfecting their craft until they can create compelling covers that draw readers in and invite their questions and curiosity. Book covers aren’t just cover pages, they are artistic visualizations of a text or concept, and they tell the reader quite a lot with limited time and space.

And these kinds of book covers take time and talent. Our lead book designer, Brittany, has this graphic by Colin Harman posted next to her computer, and I think it is both humorous and fitting:

Graphic Design Image by Colin Harman

Altucher insists that in publishing 3.0 the author should curate each piece individually—the editor, designer, proofreader, publicist, etc. You can certainly go this route, but it may be time-consuming (you're doing a lot of "shopping around," so to speak). As an alternative, you can allow the publishing house to curate these pieces for you and invest in custom book publishing services. Orange Frazer has spent twenty-six years finding the best writers, editors, designers, photographers, researchers, indexers, and printers, ensuring that every book is a professional and high-quality product that we can put our name on. We insist on publishing 3.0, because we believe that authors and readers deserve the best books possible.

The pages of Revealed: Columbus arranged in our publisher's office. At OFP, each page is designed individually.

When is publishing 3.0 appropriate? Perhaps you are celebrating a milestone for your company, an anniversary, or even a family reunion. You may have a collection of stories to pass down to your grandchildren, or a portfolio of professional photographs that you would like to showcase. Maybe it is the companion piece to a museum exhibit or a novel that you hope to circulate among reviewers. There are times when you need a professional and high-quality product that represents your hard work and talent. And in a world besieged by books, you need to stand out.

What are your thoughts? We love to hear about our readers’ experiences, so share below in the comments if you feel so moved.

Why Book Publishers are Like Carpenters: The Craftsmanship of Custom Book Publishing Services

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, a local woodworker that I met back in my donut-peddling days in high school, and as we were sharing what we are currently doing, how busy we are, etc., I had an interesting thought. I was describing to him how Orange Frazer views our book publishing services, how much I’ve learned in my time here about book production and the craft of building beautiful, long-lasting books, and realized that, in truth, I was talking to someone of the same trade.

Dan Thirey of Thirey Fine Woodworking is a woodworker, a craft carpenter, a maker of customized wood cabinets and counters and cupboards and shelves. He can remake your kitchen or restore your furniture. He is, put simply, a true craftsman. I knew that as I described our publisher’s view of a book, the importance of the binding, the resilience and gloss of the dust jacket, the direction of the grain on the paper, that I didn’t need to explain myself—he got it. As he smiled and nodded, I realized, he understands what it means to create a product whose value resides in its endurance, whose worth is often measured sentimentally or nostalgically, whose purpose is not industrial or transitory, but emotional and permanent. When you step into his shop (which I highly recommend if, like me, you can still remember the sharp scent of woodchips in your grandfather’s basement workroom) you step into another world: a world that still understands the value of individuality and quality, beauty and permanence.


It is this world that you step into when you visit Orange Frazer. We are seven people, six rooms, two warehouses, and over four hundred titles. Our books adorn the office like diplomas, memories of accomplishments and relationships throughout the years displayed proudly. Walk into our publisher’s office and you will be greeted by armchairs, not desk chairs, a view of Main St., Wilmington, not a view of the neighboring high rise. This individuality extends to our product as well. You will notice that an Orange Frazer book is heavier, that its binding is stitched, that its pages will always open and lie flat, that each interior page is its own canvas. Orange Frazer books look and feel different than other books, because we believe that books should be strong, durable, and beautiful. Our publisher, Marcy, hasn’t ordered a tote bag in years because she can’t find anyone who still works with strong canvas. She is a perfectionist when it comes to materials, and even more so when those materials build our books.

When it comes to custom publishing, Orange Frazer insists on craftsmanship. Whether you are publishing a memoir, a business or corporate anniversary book, a photography collection, a family history, a poetry chapbook, or a children’s book, we will make sure that your product is exactly what you want.

Because we just don’t know how to do it any other way.

Holiday Cover Photo Spotlight: Graphic Designer Susannah Haines Talks Shop

By this point, we hope you have already heard that Graphic Designer Susannah Haines is the winner of our holiday cover photo contest! We have been proclaiming it from the Facebook rooftops, and we are so excited to feature her insight and work on our blog. OFP has a long history of design excellence, and it is so fun for us to learn about others in the creative community. We hope you enjoy Susannah's perspective and aesthetic influence--we certainly have. What was the inspiration behind your Facebook cover photo design?

Like many of my projects, this design was inspired by nostalgia. My design was based on one of my favorite holiday songs, “There’s No Place Like Home For the Holidays” by Perry Como, and my own memories of childhood holidays spent making cookies, unwrapping presents, and playing in the snow. I wanted to incorporate a feeling of childlike simplicity and joy, something relatable that would trigger positive memories.

How did you come to be a graphic designer? Is this something you went to school for, or did you find it in a more roundabout way?

Graphic Design has just always been something that I felt I wanted to do. I think my obsessive compulsion for organization and clean lines combined with my need to create designed spaces drove my decision to go to school and really apply myself in the design field. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and I dabbled in other majors (such as Illustration, Metals & Jewelry and Fibers) and I just always felt like graphic design fit.

What is your number one design principle?

My number one design principle is hierarchy, I want the viewer’s eye to be led through the design.

What is your number one design pet peeve?

My number one pet peeve is the use of bad fonts. A designer’s choice of fonts determines how the audience and consumers perceive a company or a brand. I wouldn’t give my money to a bank that uses Comic Sans.

Which software do you prefer—Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop?

I work in Illustrator or InDesign most of the time, but lately I’ve been assigning myself small side projects to push my skills in Photoshop.

What’s been your biggest challenge as a designer?

I think that my biggest challenge as a designer (and as a person) has been self-doubt and fear of taking huge risks. I’m starting to get over it.

What’s your opinion of Helvetica?

Helvetica is like air- it’s everywhere but you never think about it. I don’t dislike it- its clean, simple, and easy to read, but I think it should be used very cautiously and only when it is the very best answer, otherwise it can be perceived as a lazy choice.

What kinds of projects do you gravitate to?

I love doing packaging, and I love working with brands that have a vintage or retro feel.

What design publications, groups, media, etc. inspire you? Are you a member of a local ad group?

I find my inspiration in Print Magazine and Communication Arts, but I get most of my ideas browsing Pinterest and Behance. I’m a member of AIGA which is another great source of knowledge and inspiration.

How do you envision your future as a designer? What would be your “dream job”?

I really enjoy freelance work because your work is never the same from project to project, and the opportunity to work on different brands is really fun. My dream job would be designing at a small firm in a big city.

Do you have samples of work that you would like to share with us?

I recently did the logo and packaging for Blind Bettie’s Famous ‘Shine, a brand of moonshine and gourmet cocktail mixes. The design has a homemade and heritage feeling and all boxes and labels feature hand stitched details.

One of my most recent projects was done as part of an intern Random Acts of Kindness initiative. My fellow intern Jennifer DiMenna and I created a series of small notes with compliments and posters with tear-off compliments to take. We hid the notes and posters in corners and cabinets in the office for our coworkers to find and take as they needed.

Additional examples of Susannah's work can always be found at http://www.behance.net/zannahaines