Archives For Design

By Zoë Sadokierski
Lecturer, School of Design at University of Technology, Sydney

How publishing works: a book designer's perspective - Image by Zoe Sadokierski

Publishing is the process of getting the author’s story out of her or his head and into the hands of a reader. Zoe Sadokierski

Authors don’t write books, they write manuscripts. Publishing is the process of getting an author’s manuscript into the hands of a reader, by materialising it – giving it form, as a book. This may be printed (a codex) or digital (an ebook).

I produced the illustrations in this post for a Sydney Writers Festival talk in 2012. All publishing houses have different protocols and cultures; this overview is based on my experience as an in-house book designer at Allen&Unwin (2003-2006), and as a freelance designer for a range of Australian publishers over the past decade.

How publishing works a book designers perspective - Image 2 - Zoe Sadokierski

The author enters a publishing house with a manuscript. Zoe Sadokierski

The author’s manuscript is either solicited (the publisher asks them to write it) or unsolicited (the author writes it, then shops for a publisher). Being rejected is awful and publishing contracts are complicated, so many authors employ an agent to negotiate a deal with a publisher.

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This video from Random House gives a behind the scenes look at the book design process. It features interviews with designers Christopher Brand, Chip Kidd, Peter Mendelsund, Marysarah Quinn and Robbin Schiff.


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From Gutenberg to Comic Sans and beyond, this beautiful short film from Canadian graphic designer Ben Barrett-Forrest traces the history of typography.

This promotional video from the US office of Random House provides a behind the scenes look at the workings of a major publishing house. It features interviews with the company’s editors, designers, marketing staff and publicists, highlighting the huge amount of work, money and effort that goes into producing and promoting a commercially published book.

Random House is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world and is poised to become even larger as it moves to merge with Penguin. Its authors include Maya Angelou, John Grisham, Gillian Flynn, E.L. James, George R.R. Martin and Paulo Coelho.

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Stephen King Universe FLowchart

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What if these best-selling albums had been books instead? The Record Books are the creation of UK-based graphic designer and art director Christophe Gowans. Below are ten of our favourites.

© Christophe Gowans. Reproduced with permission.

Are You Experienced
Charismatic Harvard whizkid Hendrix’s self-help bible. A spin-off from his phenomenally successful TV reality show, ‘The Experience’.
Record Books - Are You Experienced
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