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How It Works - Publishing a book with W. Bruce Conway Copyright© W. Bruce Conway 2016
(This document is also available in Acrobat.pdf format)


W. Bruce Conway provides superior publishing and book design services. We encourages enthusiasm, creativity and professionalism. As a result, many of our clients are repeat customers. Visit our client endorsement page.

We are not a vanity press, but are selective with the book projects we accept. We do not publish hate literature, political propaganda or fundamentalist dogma. We do publish progressive and thought-provoking topics, especially those that enhance human potential, and contribute to the greater good.

Our preferred topics to publish include spirituality, philosophy, mens & women’s issues, ecology, medical ethics, popular science (especially quantum physics), history, biography, art, photography, alternative energy, the Tiny House movement, sustainability, wildlife, nature, gardening, general fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, adventure romance and nautical adventure.

Our book projects are creative collaborations between the author, designer, printer and the distributor. A good working environment fosters clear communication, mutual respect, and ethical standards. We also believe in legally protecting both our clients, and ourselves, in regards to copyright laws, fair use and contractual agreements.

The Publishing Project - How It Works

A book design project is, by its very nature, a lengthy and multifaceted undertaking. It often requires a substantial contribution of time, effort and resources from both the designer and the client. This document spells out each of their obligations and job descriptions.

First time authors attempting to self-publish are often intimidated by the depth and complexity of this process. Bruce streamlines the publishing process, and minimizes the clients learning curve and technical hurdles—so they can focus their time and energy on the specific tasks essential to success.

Independent self-publishing requires that an author master a wide variety of skills in order to successfully write, edit, design, publish and market their own books. A traditional large publishing company employs editors, proofreaders, book cover and interior designers, typographers, typesetters, pre-press, printers, binders, project managers, and sometimes: marketers, publicists, literary agents, shippers and receivers. Very few author/self publishers can master all of these specialities.

Book publishing is a complex undertaking, yet independent self-publishersoften become proficient in many of the required specialty areas, out of necessity. It is, however, unrealistic for an author to expect to master all of these skills. Everyone has things that they are good at, and then other things that they are not so proficient at.

While there is an economic incentive to become as proficient in as many publishing skills as possible, there are reasonable limits to what the individual can be expected to master. It is important to inventory one’s talents and skills, and acknowledge one’s limitations. For example, one author may be good at writing, editing and project management, but unskilled with digital illustration and photographic manipulation. The secret of self-publishing success is to focus your energy on the things that you are really good at, and then delegate all other tasks to specialists. Bruce can refer you to professionals in these specialized areas.

By lessening our client’s learning curves and technical burdens, the author can focus their energy and resources on the tasks essential to their success. W. Bruce Conway streamlines the publishing process, so that his clients can successfully navigate the turbulent waters of self-publishing.

Filling out the Author’s Brief - The Objectives and Priorities Form

Prior to the initial consultation, Bruce requests that new applicants fill out the author’s brief. This form is available for download HERE).

The author’s brief provides Bruce with contact information, proposed book title, and other basic information concerning the proposed project. The brief also helps clients their develop objectives and priorities for the project. It also helps them target the book’s genre, audience and potential markets, formalize their goals and expectations, and define realistic time frames and deadlines.

Once the author’s Brief has been completed and reviewed, Bruce will schedule a free consultation with the client. This consultation usually lasts about half an hour, and gives the author an opportunity to “pitch” their project. We listen very carefully to what the client has to say: their story, creative vision, goals, hopes and aspirations. After reading the authors brief , hearing the client’s pitch we will mutually determine whether the client/publisher relationship is a good fit or not. If so, we will proceed with the project.

Project Proposal

Upon request, Bruce will compose a proposal for the client’s book project. This proposal will include:

1. General descriptions of the scope of the work, proposed concept, objectives and targets.

2. Specifics about: theme, book size, format, look-and-feel, typefaces, kinds of artwork, package details, methods of production and delivery, time frame, estimated fees, taxes, expenses, and potential additional costs, the unit cost of the book in various quantities, permissible levels of editing and revisions, proofs and printouts, and a customized AIGA* contractual agreement, when requested.

3. Client’s responsibilities: levels of participation, communication with Bruce, responsibility for overseeing the editing and proofreading (see list of professional editors available on the web site), getting permission and use of copyrighted materia and vetting of the manuscript to protect against copyright infringement. the Author is also responsible for publicity and promotion, contractual obligations, method and schedule of payment, terms and conditions. That being said—Bruce stands ready to consult with the client on any of these topics.

4. Definition of intellectual property rights, licensing, confidentiality, distribution rights, ongoing support services (web site development and management, etc.).

5. Space for two authorizing signatures (one submitted by the client, and the other by Bruce).

The Book Project Contract

For those clients that require a contract for services, we use an AIGA* (American Institute of Graphic Arts) contract, that has been customized for book design and publishing projects. The AIGA contract is used by over 16,000 professional graphic artists and designers, and is included in the body of the proposal forms. This contract defines the legal parameters of the book publishing project, and protects both the client, and W. Bruce Conway Design.

Once both parties have agreed to and signed the proposal/ contract, the book project officially begins. The author’s first official obligation is to submit a completely edited and proofread manuscript,** and a retainer for 1/2 of the estimated costs of the project.These estimates are part of the proposal packet. Ongoing fees are billed to the client when incurred.

Manuscript Submission Guidelines - These steps should be followed closely to avoid costly mistakes.

The following section was written to help authors submit problem-free manuscripts to Bruce. Please read this how-to section thoroughly, and follow the instructions step-by-step.

1. All manuscripts submitted to Bruce must be complete. They must be fully spell-checked, edited and proofread. It is recommended that authors do not attempt the final levels of editing and proofreading themselves.** Visual fatigue and “copy blindness” at the tail-end of a writing project inhibits effective editing and proofreading.

We highly recommend that authors do not attempt the final editing and proofreading themselves. Trust us on this. This is the single greatest and most costly mistake a book author can make.

Bruce maintains a short list of affiliated professional editors and proofreaders for our clients. Most are members of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild.

2. Authors should submit two (2) copies of the completed, fully-edited and proofread manuscript to Bruce. One printed on paper, and the other in PC or Mac digital format (MS Word, WordPerfect, AppleWorks, or other standard word processing program). It should be saved in Rich Text Format (RFT), which is a “save” option available in all word processor programs. RTF preserves a document’s formatting for cross-platform applications.

The manuscript’s fonts used should be standard typeface styles such as: Times Roman, Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, Century Schoolbook, Perpetua, Minion, or Book Antiqua. Don’t use single spaced fonts named after cities such as: Chicago, Monaco, etc.

The digital manuscript can be submitted to Bruce on CD, DVD, Zip Disk, USB flash drive, or it can be emailed as an attachment to:

The finished manuscript may be broken into separate chapters, or be in one continuous text block. It should be single spaced, and only minimally formatted.

3. Do not attempt to lay out the book yourself with complex formatting, tables, photos, and multiple typefaces. Despite the fact that MS Word is the most popular word processing program and can be used as a simple page layout program, its formatting tools wreak havoc with professional book and page layout programs. So stick to basic word processing formatting: italics, paragraph returns, indents, left and center alignment. Do not use multiple spaces to indent paragraphs. Please use the tab/indent control bar to set your automatic paragraph indent

Avoid inserting page breaks, headers, footers and automatic page numbering. Excessive formatting will have to be removed and reset at additional cost.

It is the designer’s job to format and lay out the pages and chapters of the book. But if the author has specific ideas about page layout, typefaces, etc. they should submit samples to the designer before the formatting and layout process begins. We encouraged authors to collaborate with the book designer during all stages of the project.

Submitting photos, illustrations, charts and graphs

Charts, graphs, photos and illustrations can be submitted on paper, or in digital format (jpeg, jpg, tif, tiff, or eps. file formats). Native Photoshop, Illustrator and Freehand files (.psd, .ai, .fh) are preferred. Please don’t bulk e-mail photos to us. Doing so plugs-up our e-mail server. We encourage authors to send bulk art on CD or DVD media, USB flash drive, or Zip Disk.

It is a good idea to limit the number of illustrations and photos to those essential to the thematic structure. The exceptions are, of course, coffee table, art, nature or photography books. Please note the specific target areas in the text blocks where photos are to be inserted (Post-It notes in the printed manuscript are ideal for this purpose).

The importance of having a top-notch cover design

The book jacket/cover is an author’s most important promotional sales tool. It acts as a miniature billboard, and is the book’s primary vehicle of advertising. A superior book cover design is an essential element for mounting a successful marketing campaign.

A book must stand out from other volumes on a store shelf and compete effectively with others in its genre. The cover design should be visually attractive, and elicit strong curiosity from potential buyers. The copy written on the cover or dust jacket should be brief, evocative, and convey the essence of book’s subject at a glance. A few glowing endorsements from well-know media personalities or noted experts adds to the book cover’s punch and effectiveness.

Book cover design is an art form requiring a sophisticated set of skills, and a deep understanding of the medium. Unless the author is also a professional graphic designer, this job should be delegated to a professional.

People really do judge a book by its cover. This is why it is crucial that a book cover design be top-notch. One of my early book designs, Red Sky in Mourning caught the eye of a Disney/Hyperion executive, who was perusing a local bookstore while on vacation. This resulted in the book rights being purchased by Disney for half of a million dollars. If the cover had been uninteresting, he would have passed it by without a glance.

Submitting Cover Art

If the author has photographs, illustrations or other cover art elements they wish to be included in the cover design, they can be submitted on either paper or in digital format on CD, DVD, USB flash drive, or Zip Disk. If submitting art in digital format, it should be in Photoshop psd, Illustrator .ai or Freehand .fh formats, .eps, .tif or .tiff formats are also acceptable. Art resolution should be 300-400 dots (or pixels) per inch. Do not attempt to sharpen or color-correct the photos yourself. We are happy to do this for you.

If the client does not have access to cover art, Bruce is happy to design a top-notch cover for the book. Visit his book gallery.

We start by designing creative typography for the title, sub-title and other cover text. Then we choose an original (or stock) photo or illustration, and proceed to design an original, interesting and attractive book cover around this art. We can also commission an original photo to be made by a professional photographer.

The Book Synopsis

Early in the project Bruce will direct the author to compose a short synopsis about the book. The synopsis, or META description, will be used upon the book’s back cover, on the author’s web site, in various promotions, and in the BowkerLink™ (Books in Print™) database. The creation of a book’s synopsis is a very useful and important tool.

What is a synopsis? A synopsis is a brief outline of your book; it is an abstract or summary that sums up the story line and essence of your book in a few short paragraphs. Condensing an entire story into a few paragraphs may sound easy, but it can be surprisingly challenging. A good synopsis is developed over time, and after many revisions.

Book Endorsements

As mentioned earlier, a few endorsements, accolades or “blurbs” on the book cover/dust jacket add greatly to the punch and effectiveness of a cover design. We request that the author begin to solicit endorsements for placement on the back cover or book jacket early in the project, as these can take some time to secure. The same endorsement blurbs can also be used the author’s web site and for promotions.

The ideal endorsements are from recognized authors in the genre, well known media or web personalities, celebrities or other prominent figures. If these are not available, the book synopsis can be used in their place.

Vetting the Manuscript

The next important step that the author must accomplish is to carefully review the manuscript for any included material that has been copyrighted by other authors. This is called vetting the manuscript. Copyright infringement has become a contentious and potentially costly aspect of authorship, and great care must be taken to prevent the possibility of lawsuits and litigation. Permissions must be given, in writing, for any graphics, photographs, articles, lengthy quotations, or excerpts that do not conform to the federal fair use definition:

“... quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.” - Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law / U.S. Copyright Office /

Authors are encouraged to download the standard Permission Request Form (.pdf) and submit a printed copy to each copyright holder whose material or graphic materials are meant to be included in the book. Make sure to track each request and response, so you can easily see who has responded and who hasn’t.

Securing permission requests can be a lengthy and sometimes costly process. So begin sending permission form requests early in the project. Note: newspapers and magazines will often request a fee for use of their copyrighted material, and these fees can be quite substantial. Have alternate materials ready to be inserted if the cost for used items are beyond the author’s budget. If certain permissions have not been granted, in writing, by the end of the book layout stage, the item(s) should be deleted and/or replaced with non-copyrighted alternatives.

Book Forward

A books’ forward is usually written by someone other than the author with expertise in the subject, or name recognition. It should introduce the reader to the book’s topic, and its author. It should also be very complimentary.

The forward is acquired in the same manner as the endorsements—by request. If a good book forward is not available, it is optional.

Writing acknowledgments and a short biography

At this point in the project, the author should compose an acknowledgments page, and a short author biography (one to two paragraphs). This mini bio will be used in the book, the author’s web site, for book signings, radio talk shows, and in other promotional material. A small photograph of the author is typically included on the bio page.

Beginning the book design process

Once the completed, edited and proofread manuscript has been submitted and accepted, Bruce will begin preliminary layout and formatting of the interior book block, and cover design. This entails choosing a book form (paperback, hard cover, etc.), dimensional size, stylistic format, color scheme, and typeface styles best suited to the books intended usage, audience, topic and theme.

Next, Bruce will procure an ISBN number for the book(s), submit a copyright application to the U.S. Copyright office, and (as an additional option) apply for Library of Congress PCN number. He will also create a laser barcode for the back cover. Some thought should be given to the retail price of the book at this stage. Research the competition. Find out what similar books cost at bookstores and online, and gauge your price accordingly.

There is a three tier price structure for every book: the publisher’s price, the wholesale price, and the retail price. Your cost per unit (publisher's price) should be low enough to allow you to sell books to booksellers and distributors and still make a healthy wholesale profit. Bruce has an Excel™ price calculator for assisting in this process.

Communicating and working with the author

During this stage, Bruce will need to be in contact via phone and/or e-mail with the author in order to ask questions, get clarification and receive feedback. The designer will use this feedback to help execute the book design in the most creative and timely way possible. Designs and revisions will be e-mailed to clients in Acrobat .pdf format, but can also be printed out on paper and mailed upon request. Clients will need to have a current version of the free Acrobat reader installed on their computers.

When the preliminaries are completed, the designer will provide the client with color and/or black and white printed proofs of the proposed interior layout and cover design. The client should then submit the manuscript to his or her editor/proofreader** for review. While the editor/proofreader is occupied, the author should review the proposed cover design, give the designer feedback, and propose any modifications and edits. At this stage author feedback is most useful. It is easy to make significant revisions to the cover and book block at this point, but gets more difficult (and costly) as the project proceeds.

Building the book

When the editor/proofreader’s initial corrections are returned to the designer, the designer will begin to revise the cover and interior, and begin to construct the final form of the book. This is known as the comprehensive stage of the project.

At this point the front matter pages (title, copyright/CIP data, dedication, acknowledgments, epigraph, table of contents, forward) and back matter (appendix, notes, glossary, bibliography, index, “about the author,” colophon and book order forms) will be added.

When the comprehensive corrections are completed, the designer will furnish the client with complete set of cover and interior printouts. The client will be responsible to carefully review the printed materials, and have them proofread for accuracy.** Any final corrections or additions will be noted in place on the proof pages, to be corrected in the electronic version by the designer. It is best to use standard proofreader’s and editor’s symbols for final corrections.

The number of corrections at this stage should be minimal (maximum of two hours). If they are more extensive, project delays and additional costs will result.

Final revisions

When the comprehensive corrections are done, a third and final printout of the cover and book block will be printed out for the client. The recent corrections must be proofread and signed off by the client before the final revisions from the editor/proofreader and client can begin. Any final corrections are made to the electronic book layout by the designer, while being checked off on the final printout pages. When the edits to the interior book block and cover are completed, each of the pages with corrections will be printed out individually for approval by the author. He must initial (sign off) the printouts before the designer can proceed to the final production stage. Once done, the book design phase of the project is complete.

Picking the right Printer/Distributor

Although this may seem daunting, especially to a new self-publisher, choosing the right Printer/Distributor for you is relatively straightforward. We will consult with you and help you choose the Printer/Distributor that best fits your needs. We often recommend Print-On-Demand with Amazon/CreateSpace or LightningSource/Ingram, which dominate this market. Both of these 900 lb. gorrillas now offer international distribution, and returnable books as well.

For larger distribution, traditional publishing and printing is still a viable option, as is off-shore printing for high end full color "coffee table" books.

Post production

The project must then enter the post-production stages to get the book into print and distribution. The primary post-production services involve: distilling the completed cover and interior into electronic format (Acrobat.pdf), backing up the final project archives onto CD or DVD, and transmitting or shipping the final .pdf documents to the printer/distributor.

The completed book must be submitted to the printer according to their exacting specifications.


This is how book projects are designed, published and distruibuted by W. Bruce Conway. Once the books are into production, the client is solely responsible for publicity, promotion, and the ordering the books for retail stores and wholesale distributors. This is done online through user accounts established for the clients.

If book clients require additional clarification, or have questions regarding any of our procedures or services, please e-mail us at or call Bruce at 360-302-0099.

* American Institute of Graphic Arts is a professional association committed to stimulating thinking about design through the exchange of ideas and information, the encouragement of critical analysis and research, and the advancement of education and ethical practice.” “AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) is the oldest and largest membership association for professionals engaged in the discipline, practice and culture of visual communications and graphic design. AIGA was founded in 1914 and now represents 16,000 designers through national activities and local programs developed by more than 40 chapters and 80 student groups.” - AIGA is a national not-for-profit educational organization incorporated under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in the State of New York -

** The client will be responsible for the final proofreading of the manuscript and cover design. Use of a professional editor/proofreader is highly recommended. W. Bruce Conway maintains a short list of professional editors on this web site. Most are members of the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. Each editor briefly lists his or her credentials and specialities. We encourage authors to consult with several editors/proofreaders before choosing one. It is best if one relates to, and communicate well with one’s chosen editor. Authors and editors should have good working “chemistry” together. Editors are often booked up several months in advance, so begin your selection process early.

*** Setup of a VPGC includes a web domain name search and registration, trade name search and registration, logo and business card design, web site design and hosting package, and a complete POD account setup with Ingram Spark or Kindle Publishing. With the purchase and setup of the Virtual Publishing Company, the author can publish, market and sell his or her books under their own trade name online or through retail booksellers. He or she can also publish the works of other authors under the auspices of their VPC publishing company.