Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a series of frequently asked questions along with some others that we feel are important…
How do you come up with a concept?
When you contact us we will recommended that you include a Design Brief for your project and requirements by answering a short questionnaire which you can download here. Using the information and ideas you have provided, alongside any phone or email messages we exchange, our Senior Designer will conceptualise suitable designs that fit the genre and the ‘feel’ you are after which you can then discuss before the final cover design. The number of different design concepts and choices offered depends on your design package.
Do you need a full copy of my manuscript in order to design a cover?
Not unless we are also providing an e-book conversion or a book block. If you are just purchasing a cover package, however, we do suggest that you also send us a sample of your book (about 3000 words) – perhaps the opening chapter(s) or the central dramatic incident. This is optional, but it will give us a clearer idea of the tone, style and ‘flavour’ of your writing, and will help us to express the essence of your book through the cover design. Your work will be treated confidentially, and will not be discussed, shared or reproduced outside Green Door.
What happens if I want to use a public domain painting?
Any image that is within the public domain is free to use and we are happy to use it. More often than not, however, these images come from the internet and are not of a high enough resolution for e-publication and/or print. We therefore often have to purchase a high quality art print of the original painting, the cost of which is covered in our ‘Standard’ cover package. Should you require more than one art print you will be invoiced an additional fee which will have been agreed beforehand. We will never send you an invoice for an amount that has not been pre-agreed.
What is a ‘Licensing Agreement’?
Anything that is not in the public domain will need a licensing agreement – permission of use. This is automatically included with the purchase of stock imagery. Should you want to use unlicensed material, however (something you’ve seen in print or online that’s not stock or public domain), then a licensing agreement needs to be obtained from the copyright holder. If you are using a piece of artwork or photography from someone you know we will need written confirmation of the licensing agreement. If you are using one of our illustrators or artists then we will obtain the licensing agreement with the commission, the cost of which will be included in the fee. If you want to use a painting from a private collection, museum or gallery we will need to obtain a license from the owner. In this case, the fee for the license will be agreed and paid separately (outside our fee), and this will probably take more time to obtain, especially in the case of private collections.
What is a 3D rendering?
3D rendering means that we provide a 3D graphic of your book for marketing purposes. This is usually the front of the book and a tablet with the front cover embedded on its screen, as seen below.
What is included in the Bonus Web Images?
These are banners you can use for a series of social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook. If you would like a banner for your blog we can include this. All we need to know is the size required as each blog template is different. If we have designed your cover there is no charge for this service.
If I want a custom cover image by one of your artists, do I talk to them directly or should I contact you first?
Most of our artists prefer to work directly with the Art Director (our Senior Designer) and we suggest no direct contact with them prior to talking to us. This is because all our artists and illustrators are very busy, while just because you may like their style it may not suit the genre of your book. Your book is of the upmost importance to Green Door, and while we want the final design to be unique we also want it to fit the style, genre and market in which you’re writing. (Basically, there’s a big difference between ‘Art’ and ‘Design.’) The process of a custom cover is the same as any other cover we produce at Green Door. Our Senior Designer will work with you initially to come up with some design concepts and a choice of the best artist for your book. The Senior Designer will then discuss your cover with the artist and a fee and turnaround time will be negotiated and agreed. Some of the artists may contact you, with your permission, to discuss further, and others will do so via our Senior Designer. This process is to stop any confusion between author and artist, and Green Door do not profit in any way from acting as an intermediary – this is covered by the package fee.
What if I don’t think the artists’ or illustrators’ styles shown on your website suit my book?
Not a problem. We are in contact with many artists and illustrators; those showcased on our website are simply those practitioners with whom we have the closest working relationship. If there is an artist or illustrator that you know of who you feel suits your book, we are more than happy to contact them on your behalf to see if they would consider the commission.
I already have an idea for my cover, can I ask you to produce it?
Of course. It is sometimes easier if you already have a vision for your cover, but certainly not essential. Some clients know exactly what they want, some have a vague idea, others have no idea at all. No matter whether you have an idea or not, we can help. It is also suggested that you keep an open mind regarding design as it may seem like a good idea but when executed it may not work. In design, as in writing, you often have to try the idea out in order to see if it works in practice. For further guidance on this subject please read our blog post on Top Five Book Jacket Design Mistakes in Self-Publishing.
I already have the artwork for my cover, can I use it?
You certainly can, just as long as it suits our cover specification in terms of quality, size, and subject matter. Please read our licensing agreement FAQ for more information.
What is ‘e-book conversion’?
E-book conversion prepares a word-processed document for digital publication. If you have a mainstream publisher, they should do this for you. Otherwise, it’s up to you, and if you just try to upload a Word or equivalent document to a self-publishing platform the result will look very amateur. E-book conversion takes your original document and converts it to the appropriate self-publishing software, effectively creating a professional digital book block. If you buy a ‘Standard’ cover from us, we will convert your book as part of the package, at no extra charge.
Can you convert my book into any format?
We have an ‘E-book Conversion’ package that does just this, as well as several discount packages that combine this with other services. We can convert to EPUB, MOBI, AZW3, FB2, HTMLZ, LIT, LRF, PDB, PDF, PMLZ, RB, RTF, SNB, TCR, TXT, TXTZ, and ZIP. For specific devices we have profiles for: Cybook G3, Cybook Opus, Generic e-ink, Generic e-ink large, Hanlin V3, Hanlin V5, Illiad, iPad, iPad 3, IRex Digi-Reader 1000, IRex Digi-Reader 800, Jetbook 5-inch, Kindle, Kindle DX, Kindle Fire, Kindle PaperWhite, Kindle Voyage, Kobo Reader, Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket Books, Nook, Nook Color, Nook HD+, PocketBook Pro 900, PocketBook Pro 912, Samsung Galaxy, Sanda Bambook, Sony Reader, Sony Reader 300, Sony Reader 900, Sony Reader Landscape, and Sony Reader T3. For anything else we will use our general tablet profile, in which there is no optimization of the images.
I already have a cover but would still like you to convert my book or make a book block, can you do this?
As long as the cover is of a specification we can work with, which differs from device to device, then we are happy to use your pre-designed cover. We recommend 1600 x 2400 px in order to use it on any device.
I want to submit a manuscript to a literary agency and/or publisher and just need to make it presentable, can you help?
We certainly can. Just email us your MS, choose our ‘Typesetting & Layout’ package and we will do the rest.
I would like an author’s website. Do you provide the host and domain name?
No. We prefer our clients to deal directly with their chosen host. We are, however, happy to recommend and guide in setting up accounts on request. Please email for more information.
You built me an author’s website and I need to update it, can you help?
We certainly can. We charge £20 per hour for any updates.
Can you publish my book?
No. We can provide you with everything you need to self-publish but we do not directly publish books.
What if I don’t like the concepts you suggest?
It is important for us that you LOVE your finished cover and that is why we ask you to fill in the Design Brief and talk to us before the concept ideas are produced. If you are still unhappy with the concepts then you are entitled to a partial refund minus a fee for the service provided up to that point. This is in accordance to our Terms & Conditions. Please view out General FAQs for more information.
Do I own the cover once it’s designed or is it the property of Green Door and/or the artist?
Yes you do – it’s all yours. Green Door and the artist (if one has been used) retain the right to use it for promotional purposes only.
Can you supply me with an ISBN number?
Yes. Please contact us for more details.
Who will be designing my cover?
All covers are handled personally by Gracie Carver, the Senior Designer at Green Door.
I’ve just written a book, but I’m not sure what to do next. How can you help?
Broadly speaking, there are two things we can do for you:
1.Critique your manuscript professionally, advising on its quality and potential marketability, and answering any specific questions you’d care to ask. If our Developmental Editor does not think it’s ready to go public, he’ll suggest appropriate revisions. Conversely, if he thinks the manuscript is of a professional standard, he will tell you what to refine, and how to approach literary agents and publishers. We will also advise on self-publication.
2.Help you self-publish, producing a high quality e-book and hard copy, converting your manuscript to a ‘book-block,’ and designing you a professional cover and jacket (commissioning original artwork if you would like, or working with stock imagery). We can also help you with proofreading and copy-editing, and, if appropriate, referencing and indexing. (Please see our Design FAQs)
What is the difference between ‘proofreading’ and ‘copy-editing’ and why do I need these things?
Whether or not you ask us to undertake these services, or whether you do them yourself, the point is that a manuscript has to be word perfect before it goes to an agent, publisher, or self-publishing platform. To do this, you really do have to check it line by line. A poorly edited/proofed document looks sloppy and unprofessional. Proofreading is the last stage of typographic editing before a manuscript goes public, and is basically a screen for spelling, grammatical and typographical errors. Copy-editing combines proofreading with general editing, so the copy-editor will not only highlight and correct proofing errors, he will also suggest structural and syntactic changes in order to enhance clarity, narrative flow and general readability. As with proofreading, it is presupposed that the manuscript is at the final stage of pre-production before a copy-editor will work on it. If a manuscript is too rough, then copy-editing becomes ghost writing, and we do not offer that service.
What exactly is a ‘Critique’?
In this service, our Developmental Editor will read your unpublished manuscript and compile a report on its technical and literary quality, commercial viability, and its suitability for publication or submission to a literary agent (as appropriate – in non-fiction, you generally don’t use an agent). He will also answer any specific questions you might have about your work or your publication options. These reports are extremely detailed, and will tell you what you need to know and what you need to do in order to get your project to a professional standard, including constructive criticism, targeted creative writing instruction, and realistic advice on how to approach agents and publishers, and when and how to go it alone by self-publishing.
How long are these Critiques?
Critiques vary in length according to the size of the manuscript, but are usually between 3000 and 8000 words long (so about 15 to 25 pages). Reports on short stories or proposals will obviously be shorter than those covering full length novels or non-fiction.
So why don’t I just submit my manuscript to an agent or a publisher and see what they say?
Literary agencies and publishing houses are very busy, competitive businesses. They receive hundreds of unsolicited manuscript submissions every week, even though they rarely take on new clients and authors. This is the so-called ‘slush pile.’ Agents and publishers do not critique manuscripts they reject – if you’re lucky you’ll receive a very brief, courteous but generic rejection by email after a couple of months, leaving you none the wiser as to where you went wrong. If you’d like to know how to make your manuscript strong enough to get agents and publishers to look twice, and to stay off the slush pile, then get a professional critique first.
Will you read my entire manuscript?
Yes, and very closely.
So who is critiquing my work – why should I trust this person?
All critiques are presently undertaken and written by our Developmental Editor and Senior Partner, Dr. Stephen Carver – we do not contract out to other readers. As you can see from his biography, Stephen has a long and distinguished career in publishing and academia. He is a writer himself, and also a highly qualified editor and creative writing lecturer with a reputation for diligence.
Do you just critique unpublished novels?
No, we also critique short stories, non-fiction (excluding hard science and law), and book proposals.
What’s a ‘book proposal’?
We take a ‘book proposal’ to be a draft version of the project pitch required by most literary agents and publishers, comprising a covering letter outlining the book, a plot synopsis of approximately 1000 words, and a writing sample of 10,000 words (usually the first two or three chapters of your book).
How long does a critique take?
We usually ask for 4 – 6 weeks depending on our calendar and the size of the manuscript (which is quicker than most literary agents take to turn a book down), as our Developmental Editor does read the manuscript in full. We can sometimes offer an express service (subject to availability), so feel free to ask, but the fee is obviously higher than the standard in this case.
Are there any manuscripts you won’t critique?
As noted above, our Developmental Editor cannot assess legal and scientific writing, although he is more than qualified in the arts and humanities, social sciences, philosophy, theology, and parapsychology. Otherwise, we reserve the right to decline any manuscript we feel to be morally reprehensible, or downright illegal. This does not, however, mean that we will not take on extreme, erotic or esoteric fiction. We judge all manuscripts on their own artistic merits, and have no problem, for example, with general or genre fiction that depicts extreme politics, violence, or drug use as part of the plot, or, indeed, includes sex scenes or colourful language. We cannot, however, accept polemical texts that we feel, for example, are promoting racial hatred or religious intolerance, or would be defined as ‘obscene’ by the Crown Prosecution Service of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We also reserve the right to decline anything that we believe has been plagiarised. These guidelines also apply to cover design, and documents submitted for copy-editing or proofreading, with the additional note that we also reserve the right to politely decline a document for copy-editing if the draft is so rough that it, in fact, requires complete re-writing. As noted elsewhere, we do not offer a ghost writing service. That said, we have thus far never rejected a design or editorial client. Similarly, if you have a project we don’t feel qualified to critique, we will endeavour to put you in touch with someone who can through The Literary Consultancy.
Can you get me published?
Not directly, unless you are self-publishing, in which case we can help you put a book together that will look as professional in terms of content, cover design and layout as any other mainstream publication. What our editorial services can do, however, is hugely raise your game as a writer, therefore greatly narrowing the odds when it comes to trying to get published. We can also prepare your manuscript to go public in a professional way, whether as a submission to an agent or publisher, or as a self-publication. As part of this process we might suggest particular agents or publishers that you could approach, but we do not refer. Generally speaking, credible agents and publishers have enough submissions as it is, and do not need or take referrals.
How do I send you my manuscript? (All Editorial Services.)
We prefer to work digitally whenever possible, and this is essential for proofreading, copy-editing, referencing and indexing. Please email us your manuscript in a single Microsoft Word or equivalent document, preferable formatted in the following way:
- Cover sheet – please include title, word count, your name and contact details
- Line spacing – 1.5
- Font size – 12 pt for serif, 11 pt for sans serif (Times preferred)
- Margins – Word ‘Normal’ preferred: 2.54 cm top/bottom & left/right
- Please number the pages
- If at all possible, please also send a PDF version to ensure original formatting (this is not essential, so don’t worry if you don’t have PDF conversion software)
- Please attach other documentation separately – for example covering letters, synopses, critical evaluations, and résumés
Please rest assured that all unpublished material is treated as confidential, and is viewed only by the editor(s). The rights of the author are respected, and no work will be shared, displayed or reproduced. Manuscripts are archived for six months after business, and then deleted and/or shredded.
I’d rather not send a digital copy – do you accept printed manuscripts?
If you would prefer us to work with hard copy only, then that’s not a problem. Please email or telephone us for postal details. If you would like your manuscript returned, please include an SAE.
Can I deliver and collect my manuscript by hand?
This is unorthodox but not without precedent. Please email or telephone to arrange.
Do you accept handwritten manuscripts?
Sorry but no – nobody does in our business anymore.
How can I pay?
We accept all major debit and credit cards via Paypal, or you can do a bank transfer.
Can I cancel my order with you?
British Law states that as our products are bespoke, the normal legislation regarding cancellation within 14 days is not applicable. (Please refer to Terms & Conditions.) We would, however, like to be as reasonable and flexible as possible, and therefore offer the following options: You can cancel and receive a full refund up to the date the Senior Designer, Developmental Editor, Proofreader or Copy-editor starts work on your order. After the work has commenced, you are paying for our time and we retain the right to deduct the relevant fee for the work done to date. This will differ depending on how far into the project you decide to cancel.
Can I upgrade my package?
You can upgrade at any point during a service and a revised invoice for the upgrade, minus the fee already paid, will be sent. Once the invoice is paid we will upgrade your package.
Do you accept a deposit?
The only time we accept deposits is when we run Sales that involve booking a Design or Editorial calendar slot for a later date. Otherwise, all invoices are to be paid in full before the Designer or Editor can start work, as is the standard in our industry.
How will you contact me?
We prefer to conduct most of our communication via email as we find it important to retain a written and dated record of correspondence that we can refer to while working on your order, and to avoid confusion on either the client’s part or ours. We are, however, also happy to talk on the phone when necessary.
Do I have to acknowledge that Green Door designed the cover?
It is not a requirement but it is nice if you can. We do ask, however, that you credit the artist should you have a commissioned piece.
What is the turnaround time for a cover design?
This differs from cover to cover. Some covers take more time than others. Turnaround can take around two – four weeks from an agreed calendar slot, whereas commissioned art covers can take up to eight weeks. Sometimes an artist may have multiple commissions and turnaround times may be longer. In any case you will be informed before you are invoiced. Sometimes things happen that we cannot control or prevent that delay turnaround. For more details please refer to our Terms & Conditions.
Do you offer any other type of graphic design service in addition to design for publishing?
We certainly do! Our Senior Designer is also experienced in CD/DVD Rom Design, Branding, Advertising, and much more. Whatever your design needs, please feel free to contact us and we’ll see what we can do…