Cookbook Design − You won’t believe it!
Cookbook design by one particular experienced graphic designer is apparently grossly overpriced, at least in my opinion. I’ve been designing books, including cookbooks for years. Okay, decades … I always thought that our pricing was a bargain, but now we have a confirmation.
Their cost: $10,000. Our cost: $4,000 to $6,000. Their timing: 2 to 5 months. Our timing: 3 to 5 weeks for design only.
Here is sample of our book design … The Art of Mead Tasting and Food Pairing, available at Amazon. See The Art of Mead Making and Food Pairing on our site, a book we designed that, as of this writing, is being considered for a James Beard award, and an award by Gourmand. Update: They win the Gourmand award!
The question of cookbook design, cost and timing
I was recently reading a question in a forum, asking about what the graphic designers would charge for laying out a 225-page cookbook with 110 recipes and 56 photos.
Red flag — spotting an amateur book designer already — no book can be an odd number, like 225 pages. Each leaf has two sides (pages). It would have to be an even number, 226 pages. So, already I’m skeptical about the designer asking the question. I assume they haven’t designed many books before, if any.
The designer states that some photos are requiring minimal color correction. Sample spreads would be needed for two different design directions. Coordination with print vendor, review of press proofs, and supervision through production and delivery are also included. The turnaround time for the creative process is about 2 to 3 months. She wants a ballpark cost for cookbook design.
The answer that was given
The answer that I find most astonishing is when a cookbook designer writes that a ballpark cost is about $10,000, for the production work and creative design. However, she would charge more because of the “short” time frame. Therefore, 4 to 5 months was a better time frame. Seriously?
A couple of designers say that they think that 2 to 3 months is too short for the creative process. Seriously?
The Cookbook Design process at Star Print Brokers
Authors of substantial cookbooks — or celebrity cookbooks — use professional photographers. Sometimes the photographer converts the images from RGB to CMYK. Instructions are on our website. We can also convert them.
Cookbook design direction – Initial design phase
We also provide a few spreads showing two different design styles, based on what the chef or author have in mind.
Cookbook design production – Laying out the cookbook
This is where we bring the design together, using photographs, typography, and style sheets in a rock-solid framework. We work in InDesign.
Cookbook Design Timing
We spend anywhere from a few days to a week or two to design the spreads in the initial phase. We expect that the manuscript is already proofread, therefore, we don’t run into extra costs and delays.
Overseeing the Job
If we are printing the book, we also oversee the entire project from inception to delivery to door.
Cookbook Design Cost
We are professionals here. We find that all too often amateur cooks expect they can hire us for a few hundred dollars. It isn’t happening folks, ever. And I would be shocked if anyone can get a person to work for that little and be happy with the results.
We typically charge from about $3,000 to $4,000 for a 226-page cookbook. I would have to see than manuscript, but the more recipes, charts, complexity of the layout, the higher the cost. It just takes more time.
I’ve been designing books for a long time. Cookbooks are more difficult to do than a novel or photography book, and that’s because of the lists of ingredients and measurements. It is spending time building charts, which are the most difficult to lay out.
Tips for Cookbook Authors and Chefs
The best tip I can give any cookbook author — whether they are working with us or anyone else — is to give the designer free reign. That is, after giving them a general idea of the look and feel of the cookbook design that you have in mind. The best designs are created when the author is not trying to play designer or micro manage the design process.
Have your manuscript thoroughly and professionally proofread before turning it over to the designer. Otherwise, you will be charged for author’s corrections, and possibly a second set of proofs.
In conclusion, I think that the questions were asked of a designer who never does book design. Maybe they do brochures or newsletters. She is fishing for pricing. Now she will go back to the author and try to charge $10,000. I am betting that this designer will lose the job altogether.
Hire a professional book designer — with experience — hire us!