A well-defined process is key to a seamless book design experience. All Mayfly Design projects have a detailed project schedule with committed dates for all deliverables.


Our Book Design and Publishing Process— Steps & FAQs

Steps and inner workings of the book design process and production stages. Here is an overview.

Once we have a rough manuscript and some key information about your book, we can begin the cover design process. You will be presented with three or more cover concepts to review. We’ll then collaborate together, gathering your feedback and making adjustments, until the front cover is perfected into something you love. At this point, we can generate a high-res graphic you will be able to use for any of your book’s marketing efforts.

Delivery of Final Manuscript

Before we can begin the interior page design process, we’ll need your polished manuscript. At this point, you’ll want to finalize the text as much as possible. We strongly encourage hiring a copyeditor to tighten things up on a broader level, and a proofreader to catch typos and punctuation errors that may have slipped through the cracks. Any changes after this step will need to be worked into the production process.

Next up, a Mayfly designer will take your polished manuscript and provide you with sample interior pages to review. At this stage of the book design process, you will look through all of the fonts, text sizes, headings, chapter pages, and any other textual or visual elements we are suggesting. We will then gather your feedback and make adjustments to develop a final design template (a road map of sorts) that we’ll use to typeset your book.

It’s now time to go through your manuscript page-by-page and format your book using the final, approved page design template, transforming your manuscript into what will ultimately be your finished book design. Along the way, we will perform some general clean-up tasks, and provide a proof in a PDF format for you to review and proofread.


At this point, you’ll read through your book one more time, which is now formatted as it will appear in your printed book. No doubt some unseen typos and errors will jump off the page—they always do. Not to worry, it’s all part of the process. Better yet, pass it over to your proofreader for one more review. Mark up any edits, either digitally or on a set of printed pages, and pass them on to us to get these last details fixed up.

Type Edits and Changes

Here we make changes to the first proof of your layout using your compiled list of marked-up edits. Once completed, you will be provided another proof for review and approval. Repeat the step above, if necessary. This is the time to make any final changes before we go to print.

Now is the time to send us your copy for the back cover, endorsements, images, and author biography to build the full cover. This includes the back cover and spine for softcover books, as well as dust jacket flaps, case cover, and endpapers for hardcover or more complex projects. We will collaborate on any edits and changes needed to get a final cover file for your printer. If you have enlisted our help for additional publishing services, this is the point in the process where we will register your book for an ISBN and Library of Congress number, as well as create a barcode and publisher logo.

Final Approval

This is the final review process before files are sent to print. Once you send us confirmation that everything is good to go, we will prep the final files and send them to your printer. They will likely require one last approval before your book is printed.

eBook Conversion

Now that your print book is finalized, we can complete the process of converting your book to digital format. We will retain as much of the formatting from the print version as possible, and provide an online proof for review and approval. Final industry-standard Kindle and EPUB files will be provided to you so you can upload to the book retailers of your choice.

We can help with registering your book with Bowker and Library of Congress, under your name and imprint. We can also help get your book set up on KDP, IngramSpark, and other platforms for print-on-demand sales. If you’re looking for offset printing, we’d be happy to help you source a printing partner. We know these can be confusing waters to navigate, so our goal is to help guide you through these final stages so you don’t feel stranded at the finish line!

We have defined and streamlined each step of the process above, including what files we will send for your review and approval, instructions on how to access and look over these files, as well as links to helpful resources. We will walk you through this detailed process when we introduce you to your team and officially kick off your project—outlining each milestone for your book design project in greater detail.



Still have a question? Let's clear them up.

Do I need book design services if I plan to sell on Amazon?

Yes, you’ll need your Word manuscript typeset before uploading to Amazon for KDP eBook or print-on-demand services. Our typesetting service takes your Word document and creates a modern, beautiful book layout ready for Amazon/KDP. We also recommend custom cover design to ensure it has a captivating and professional appeal on Amazon’s busy digital shelf.

Will I own my book design files?

Once your project is completed, we will supply you with the final PDFs ready for printing or eBook publishing anywhere you choose, along with the native application files for future edits.

Are you a gig-economy design company?

No, we are a small book design agency based in the Midwest with a team of dedicated designers and project managers. We pride ourselves on delivering high-quality book design with exceptional customer service.

Do you design books for Amazon/KDP and IngramSpark?

Yes, the great thing about working with Mayfly Design is that you own your final files and can upload them to any printer or distributor you choose, including Amazon KDP and IngramSpark.

What information do you need from me to get a custom quote for my book project?

Fill out the form on the ESTIMATE page as completely and accurately as possible. This will give us all the information we need to assemble a custom quote specifically for your book design project.

I don’t live in Minnesota. Can we still collaborate together?

No problem! Most of our clients work and live elsewhere. Email and phone or video calls work well for basic communications, and viewing book cover designs, page layouts, and other proofs online is easy.

What's the difference between a publisher and a printer?

A printer typically handles only one aspect of your book: printing it. A publisher is involved in multiple aspects of your book, such as editing, design, legal, marketing, and distribution. Mayfly Design is a book design company at its core, but we can also help you source your own printer as an add-on service, as well as registering your book and distributing on digital platforms such as Amazon KDP and IngramSpark. Just ask.

What are your payment methods, and is there a contract?

If the estimate for your project looks agreeable, we will send you a copy of it to sign and return. This will serve as our master service agreement. Payment terms are typically 50% down to start, with the remaining balance due at the end of the project. Payments can be sent by check, direct bank deposit, and credit card.

How long does the book design process take?

A typical project, including book cover design, page design, typesetting, proofreading, edits, and eBook formatting will likely take at least 2-3 months or more. If your project is not as complex, or we are offering à la carte services, the timeframe will likely be less. Please ask if you have a specific deadline and we will try to accommodate.

What's the difference between page design and typesetting?

When it comes to designing and formatting the interior of your book, the process is done in two steps.

Step 1: The Page Design Process

The page design process involves establishing the overall look of your book’s interior pages. It includes setting up the trim size and margins, selecting the best font (and font size) for your body text, and solidifying a look for every element in your manuscript in need of a design touch. These elements could include chapter numbers and titles, various lists, photos or other graphics, image captions, tables, charts, pull quotes, sidebars, and so on. After a review process to get your feedback and approval on each of these elements, we move along to the next step, which is the typesetting stage.

Step 2: The Typesetting Process

During this stage, we will take your approved page design template and format (or typeset) your book, page-by-page, start to finish, providing a first, typeset proof of your book for review. This proof will look exactly like your final, printed book pages. Within this typesetting phase, we include some time to implement any edits and changes you mark up for us into your book pages. Ultimately, by the end of this process, we will have a print-ready file ready to go for your printer.

I have an idea for the front cover of my book. How can I relay this to you?

We love collaborating with our authors! To simplify the process, we will provide you with a design brief to fill out before getting started on the design process. This is where you can relay your ideas and inspiration before we get the design process underway.

Where do you get the images used for your book designs? Can you create some custom artwork for me?

For most of our book design projects, we rely mainly on stock images or public domain resources unless materials are provided by the author or publisher. If you have a specific image in mind for your book cover that is not readily available, we might need to have an illustrator or photographer create it custom for you. For instance, if you’re looking for a woman holding a birdcage, wearing a gold jacket and zebra pants, standing on train tracks in Berlin on a winter night, this will be a job for a photographer or an illustrator, not a book cover designer. We are happy to connect you with the right talent for your project.

I already have my front cover complete but need help with the rest. Can you help?

Yes, no problem. We can take your finished front cover and assemble the back cover and spine, add the barcode, and be sure everything is set up to the specifications required by your printer.

Where can I find a copyeditor or proofreader?

We can bring in skilled and experienced editorial pros who specialize in the subject matter appropriate for your specific book project. Just ask, and we’ll be happy to connect you.

Do you proofread my book while you are working your design magic?

While we do alert you of any typos, incorrect punctuation, formatting inconsistencies, and other errors we encounter along the way, do not rely on us as your editorial professionals. You will need a skilled editor to perform this task prior to starting design.

I have images to include in my book. How do you want that final content delivered as we start the book design process?

We would prefer to have all high-res images provided in a separate folder when you deliver the final content. To indicate the preferred placement of these images, please include image placement instructions directly in your manuscript in brackets, such as: [insert “img02-28.jpg here]. If captions are to be included, list the corresponding caption directly after the image callout. We will place the image from your folder of graphics as directed, delete the callout instructions, style the caption accordingly, and repeat with all needed images as indicated in your manuscript.

What about the copyright page? Do I need one?

We can supply a template for your copyright page, which you can use to fill out any info you would like to include in the front of your book. This is where we will place your ISBN(s) and Library of Congress Control Number, as well as contact and ordering information.

What is an ISBN, and how do I get one?

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a series of numbers that is created and assigned to each format of a book, which the publishing industry uses to track sales around the world. If you are producing a print book as well as an eBook, you will need to purchase a separate ISBN for each “format.” We are happy to assist with this process as an add-on service for your project.

Should I also buy a barcode? Is this something you can help me with?

No need to buy your barcode online. We can supply one free of charge with our cover design services using your ISBN and retail price.

How do I register my book with the Library of Congress?

We are happy to assist with this process as an add-on service for your project.

How do I get my book on Amazon? Can you help?

To get your book on Amazon, you first need to set up a KDP seller account. To do so, go to kdp.amazon.com. We can help set up your title, upload design files, and review proofs before publishing.

Does Mayfly Design own my files and ensure they are properly archived?

Native files will be supplied upon request for safekeeping and for future use. However, Mayfly Design does not offer archiving services of project files and is not responsible for lost or corrupt files after your project is complete.