I really like the picture I found for this post. I know it's cheesy, but it sort of conveys my feelings about books. There is something magical inside each one of them.
At least all of the ones I've read and worked on. I know there's some downright smutty stuff out there, but I guess that stuff's magic to somebody too. YIKES!
What's most amazing to me is how I feel about the books that I have had the privilege of working on. It doesn't matter how much I relate to the content within any given book, I still find it a magical thing to have a part in drawing out the words and magic within by the skills I lend to it.
Fonts and graphics, headers and footers, covers and illustrations - they all contribute to what's inside in a unique and special way. If they look bad, it doesn't matter what the words say - they could be the most brilliant statements in the world - but they'd be tarnished for me if they weren't framed right by all the rest.
Appearances matter and I love that I get to participate in the process of making a book beautiful - whether it's online or in print, whether it's my words or someone else's - I just love being a part of it.
I recently read an article about book design and it correctly mentioned how many designers (myself included) have a set of "favorite" fonts. I definitely do have my favorites, but again, the best part of working on a book is finding its true character. To me that means looking for the RIGHT font. It can be a tedious process at times. Sometimes my favorites work, but many times they don't. It really does depend on the book. That's where I found I disagreed with that article, because it went on to recommend "best font combinations". And while it may be practical to have certain combinations that are your "go-to" fonts, that really goes against my whole approach to book design.
Every book needs to be taken as an individual body of work. It needs to be assessed and different styles tried until the best match is found. I love that searching process - even when it surprises me. Quite a few times I've gotten frustrated because I've worked on a design for hours only to, at the last minute, look at it and go - You know what? That's just not it. The best part of that is not that I work on it for many more hours (not usually, anyway!) - but that by that time I've gotten such a feel for the book that I can make a few tweaks to the design and make it look completely different, but completely and totally right. It's so very cool when that happens.
So my point in all this rambling about my love for books and book design is that every book is different. The character of a good book must be found and then used to it's fullest extent. So articles that talk about designers' favorite fonts and recommended fonts for this or that are great - but they don't always take into account the book itself.
My advice then to you in approaching the design of your book is not to find the nearest website with font recommendations but to invest the time and get to know your book (if you don't already!) and the possibilities for every aspect of its design - the fonts, the headers, the footers, the illustrations/images - truly the whole picture.
And why not? Go ahead and make it magical!
From stock.xchng by jweston
A little more than a year ago, I started pursuing my career as a freelance book designer more seriously. I had been working for one client, learning the ropes, for more than a year and realized just how much knowledge I had and how much skill I'd developed. I also realized that I could and should expand my freelance world to find more, higher-paying clients. BUT with only one client, I didn't have much of a portfolio to work with.
I faced the catch-22 of all new freelancers - how to get clients without a portfolio and how to build a portfolio without clients.
At some point early last year, I came across a website called Fiverr. At the time, I think their catchphrase was "What are you willing to do for $5?" Now they bill themselves as "The world's largest marketplace for small services, starting at $5." Five dollars doesn't sound like much then and it doesn't now either - but I did have a service I could market and this seemed like as good a place as any for me to try. It didn't hurt that I was willing to format by the page for people and that fit well with the Fiverr structure. I first offered 10 pages for $5 and later, once I'd gotten a few clients and some favorable reviews under my belt, 5 pages for $5. People could place multiple orders depending on the number of pages they needed help with.
Did this swell my bank account? Not a chance. But what it did do was get me a client base. Now they were pretty stingy clients, the ones only willing to pay $5 for services worth much more, but this also meant that they were easily impressed. I overdelivered on what they expected to get for $5 every single time. My list of favorable reviews got longer and longer, my clients kept returning, and they also started referring others. Who wouldn't? What a deal!
Within a couple of months, I began upping my prices. I continued serving clients through Fiverr but I gradually began to make sure they knew about my website and could find me outside of Fiverr too. This was a little tough, since Fiverr doesn't like people to contact each other outside of their platform - you're not allowed to give anyone your email address - but at that point I figured if I got kicked off of Fiverr, it wouldn't be much of a loss. And when I stopped my Fiverr listings, it wasn't.
It wasn't a loss at all. Instead, my client base began to grow outside of Fiverr. I now had a robust portfolio - one that I began using on freelance sites. I could play with the "big boys" - not really, I'm still really small-time, but it was "big" for me - and compete for more significant jobs on sites like Guru and Elance. I've found some really great clients who aren't so stingy anymore, but are willing to pay at least a little bit closer to what my work is worth (I'm still pretty sure that my work is under-priced, but I'm ok with it for now). And the projects have been steady enough for me, my part-time schedule, and my hopes of completing my own publishing and writing projects. I really couldn't have asked for things to have turned out better. So before you turn your nose up at working for nothing or pennies or fivers, consider what it could do for your career when you still don't have much of one. It just might be the step you need to take before you'll start working for benjamins!