Conversation with client
Don: I need another printer. Can you find one for me?
N-K: OK, but why do you need a new printer? What happened to the one you had?
Don: Well, we parted company.
Don: The one I had didn’t have something called PUR binding and couldn’t guarantee that pages wouldn’t fall out of my book.
(The PUR method of binding books and brochures uses polyurethane adhesive. It is processed hot and hardens by cooling. The bond is then impervious to heat. PUR adhesive binding is a particularly high-quality method that is ideal for high-use products such as trade show catalogs and for difficult types of paper.)
Conversation with printer
N-K: Can you tell me why you are not printing Don’s book?
Printer: Several reasons. He wanted too few copies for us to print, and we had to keep making small changes.
Conversation with client
N-K: Is this book copy edited and ready to print?
Don: Yes. It’s good to go. (Red flag. The file wasn’t print ready.)
What happened next
I solicited printing bids and discovered that only one printer in St. Louis has PUR binding, but the cost was cost prohibitive. The best print price was from an out of town printer, but they requested 100 percent of the price up front. I countered with an offer of 50 percent up front and 50 percent when the books were shipped. We had a deal. The proof arrived; I was pleased with the quality and suggested to Don that he look at it. He didn’t want to, saying, “If you think it’s fine, that’s good enough for me.” I approved the proof. (Red flag. Author should always look at the proof.)
Additional request from client
Don: I also need workbooks—two for students and one for the teacher.
N-K: Are they exactly the same?
Don: No. They have different page counts and different content.
What happened next
I started over, getting new printing bids with a local quick printer. When I received the workbook proof, there were problems on the technical end with no page numbers on the pages or the table of contents and a few pages with font problems. I sent it back to the person who created the interior layout. She made the corrections but also sent along a seven-page introduction. No one had ever mentioned an introduction. Why didn’t I get it with the other files? (Red flag. Files were coming in pieces, not all together.)
Conversation with the client
N-K: The way this is set up by the printer, you will receive two copies of the teacher’s workbook.
Don: I only want one.
N-K: Well, this can’t be changed because your files are 2-up per sheet. And you want two student workbooks, right?
Don: No, I need twenty, not two. (Red flag. Big change in number of copies needed.)
Time to contact the printer and get a revised price, update my estimate estimate again, and a request that Don review the costs before printing. With his approval, updated files were resent to the printer.
This was one of those jobs that, once one thing goes wrong, lots of things go wrong. It was a bumpy road, technically. I wasn’t the designer; I was the project manager, coping with surprises and problems along the way. The client said it was “good to go”; it wasn’t. After twenty-five-plus years in business, I should know that Murphy’s Law rules, and when there are four glaring red flags, it’s a bad sign. I should have known better!
What I learned:
- Not all local printers have PUR capability for perfect bound books.
- I am not comfortable working with other people’s files when they are not up to my standards.
- New authors don’t always know what print-ready means and not to accept their assessment.
- To be on the alert for red flags, e.g., when a client doesn’t want to look at the proof and insist on client approval.
- My budget was too slim: it did not include enough for meetings, phone calls, emails, uploading and re-uploading.
The final products look great. Despite the bumpy road, both Don and I were happy with them. So happy, that’s he’s placed an order for additional quantities. Don can be proud to have his name on these books, and I was determined to solve his problem.
Are you new to the book-publishing business as Don was? If you are starting out on this journey, N-K can guide you every step of the way and help you avoid costly mistakes. You CAN tell a book by its cover and a professional designer by her experience! Click the link to see N-K’s book design examples.