Process - White Magic Studios


How long does the entire design process take?

Typically we will have a cover concept for you to review 3–5 days before starting the project. After that, we will go back and forth a few times to try to achieve the desired result. Once we have approval on a cover, we will create a sample interior design for your review. This typically takes 3–5 days. Once again, we will go back and forth with you a few times before continuing on to the full layout, which typically takes about 1–3 weeks depending on a number of factors (e.g., design complexity and extent of feedback/changes). Most simple, text-driven books will be a 1 to 2 month process from start to finish.

How much will be the fee for me to design and print my book?

Our general design rates would apply depending on the inclusion of certain options and services. To be clear, we are not printers. However, we work with many printers, and while we’ll look for a perfect printer for you, most of them won’t handle small print runs. The cost of printing is not included in our basic fee structure. It is quoted from one of our trusted printing vendors.

Are there any additional fees that we should expect to encounter throughout the design/layout process?

Sometimes a project goes beyond estimated parameters and the need arises to expand the initial budget to cover our additional time. This scenario is rare as we take necessary precautions to ensure it doesn’t happen. Though it is possible. However, you would be notified of any additional fees well in advance. Other costs that may be incurred relate to the licensing of images (often photography or illustration) from outside sources such as stock-image agencies or commissioned independent artists. If the need arises for such work in your project, we’ll consult with you and present a revised estimate before proceeding.

What do these terms mean?

Throughout the process of designing your book, you will often hear a few of the following terms. If you are uncertain about what they mean, please ask us! We love to shed light on the workings of our industry and craft. Here are a few terms that you may find useful.

Trim Size

This refers to the dimensions of your physical book, as well as your page size. The two may or may not be the same, depending on if you are doing a hardcover (hardback) with a dust jacket or a softcover (paperback). While there are standard sizes for books (that fit well on most shelves and are easy to hold and read), there really is no standard size. We’ll of course discuss what your best options are. Sometimes they’re based on the type of printer you choose, other times they’re determined by the orientation of images in your book or other design and layout considerations.

Page Count

This is the amount of pages to which your book flows. So it’s not your raw manuscript in question, but rather the file that we have designed and prepared for you. The number of pages found in that file will be your page count. Your book’s page count influences many factors: the cost of your book, the spine size, the thickness and feel of your book in a reader’s hands, binding types and more. We will help you achieve a page count that suits your needs.

Word Count

This often refers to the actual word count of your raw manuscript file. Knowing it allows us to gauge the amount of pages your book will be in a normal, readable font size.

Image Resolution

Images that are destined to be printed on paper need a resolution of roughly 300 to 400 dots per inch (dpi). This refers to the quality of your images. Images that are not of correct size/resolution for printing will print poorly, often lacking sharpness and clarity or appearing pixelated. You can expect them to print out blurry and look cheap and lower in quality. An image resolution of 72 dpi up to 250 dpi is often too small for reproduction unless the size is very large. We can determine if your images are adequate for print reproduction and help you achieve the best possible image resolution—and therefore the best possible result.


The term RGB stands for red, green and blue. This is the light source/colour space with which your computer screen displays images. While some things may look great on screen, they will not reproduce with the same tonal quality or vibrancy they appear to possess when viewed on a monitor.

The colour space/mode/range that most printing presses use is called CMYK, or cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks. These four inks are used in the printing process to achieve all arrays of colours needed for most printing. Occasionally special inks may be employed to achieve a certain level of vibrancy in an image. A common colour system used for specialty inks is Pantone. All files destined for print must be converted from the RGB colour space to CMYK, in order for them to reproduce properly. We will guide you through this process, but in most cases it’s not something you need to worry about.

Colour Printing - 1, 2, 3, 4 Colours

Most simple text layouts use a single colour: black. This is typical of most text-driven books or books using standard black-and-white photographs (halftones). One-colour printing is generally used for book interiors. However, sometimes a cover may also look best in single colour (though rarely).

2 and 3 colour printing is referred to as duotone or tritone. These printing processes typically use black and 1 or 2 additional accent colours. It may prove to be a nice touch to have an accent colour throughout your book, as opposed to just using a standard black. Usually this type of printing, beyond just black, will incur additional printing costs.

4 colour printing uses the CMYK colour mode, although special inks may be substituted. 4 colour printing is for books that require the reproduction of photographs and images in their original/full-colour ranges. So, in most cases, photography books, architectural books, cookbooks and the like will benefit from a 4 colour (CMYK) printing process. Additional printing features like varnishes (used to bring out colours and preserve ink on paper) can also be applied, as well as a matte varnish/finish.

• 1C = 1 colour (typically black, but it can be a single specialty ink of any colour).
• 4C = Full colour (or 4 colour, CMYK printing).
• 5C+ = 4 colour printing plus an additional spot ink/custom ink. This could be a metallic ink or simply a custom mixed ink besides the standard CMYK colours.
• Special inks = Custom mixed inks or colour ink libraries like Pantone (PMS). A project can use only special inks and a project can end up being a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6+ colour job if only speciality inks are being used. This is typically done in silkscreen and can be done on press but can get pricey.


Book binding can take many forms: basic softcover, hardcover with jacket, case wrap (hardcover but no dust jacket), perfect binding, exposed binding and more. Binding basically refers to how your book pages are stitched together, or glued to a book block (the paper or chipboard that houses your book’s pages).

Most projects require paperback (a flexible cardstock cover) or hardcover (a thick chipboard with a printed case wrapping) with dust jacket binding. We can help you explore other options, including slipcases (external cases that books can slip into), clamshells (box-like structures that books can be housed in) and much more.

Colour Proofs

Also known as printer’s proofs, these are samples sent from the actual printing press that show how your book cover and pages will print (usually these are big, untrimmed sheets). While an additional cost is incurred to see the proofs, it’s well worth it in terms of gauging how your book will actually print. We’ll look over the colour proofs with you to see if there are any refinements that can be made to achieve the best final result in the printed piece.

Page Signature

If you look at how a book’s pages are grouped together, you will see that they are bound in sections. These sections are groupings of pages that allow the book to be bound in the best possible way, ensuring durability. They also allow for the glue to bind properly to the spine of your book. The page signatures are important in some cases because they can dictate how many pages the book needs to be. A book may need to either stay under or above a certain page count, based on signature allowance. This is something we remain mindful of when designing your book layout.

Print On Demand (POD)

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Well, it is. In fact, this printing process allows you to print only one copy of a book, if that’s all you need. As with traditional printing, it may cost you more to print fewer books. Nonetheless, books are only printed when they are needed. POD printing is often a great option for the self-publisher/indie author who doesn’t want to end up with a pallet of books in their garage that they have yet to discover an appropriate distribution channel for. We will assist you in deciding what your most economical printing options are.

Royalty Free Images, Rights Managed Images, Licensing Images

Most of the art we use on our covers or interiors is sourced from various stock sites. In most cases we strive to use royalty-free images. Royalty-free means that you won’t need to worry about paying additional fees for the images—the cost will be included in your original estimate. Once in a while, images may need to be sourced from rights-managed stock websites. In such an instance, you may need to pay an additional fee to use them. Prices vary, but rest assured you will be informed of our desire to use any such image well in advance of us charging you for it. We’re nice like that.

The reason we may want to use a rights-managed image is that we can’t always find the right images elsewhere, and we just happened to find the perfect image on a rights-managed website. We will do everything we can to try to use royalty-free art, but sometimes there’s no way around it. What can we say? There are lots of photographers and artists out there doing great work and they want to get paid for it. Rates depend on how much of an image we use on the cover or interiors of your book. Sometimes we use a fraction of an image; other times we use the whole thing. Your licensing agreement with the stock house will stipulate how much it will cost you, how long you can use it for, if you can use it in other marketing ventures, etc. Again, we will guide you through the process and make sure you’re getting what you need.

Print Run

The amount of copies of your book that will be printing.