Our Process

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


Step 1.


Copyediting and Proofreading

Before a designer can begin working with your manuscript, it needs to be edited, proofread, and finalized for production. A copyeditor will finish shaping your story on a broader level, and a proofreader will catch any typos and punctuation errors that might be lingering in your manuscript. Any edits that are required after this step will be worked into the Production process below during the "Author Review" stage.

  • Timing: 2–4 weeks
  • Required: Close-to-final manuscript
  • Resources and Notes: Author will work one-on-one with editor to finalize the manuscript.

Step 2.


Book Cover Design

We believe in a collaborative, creative process to ensure your vision is understood. With your direction, we will create custom cover concepts for you to review. We’ll then gather your feedback to finalize your front cover. The spine and back cover will be completed during Final Steps below.

  • Timing: 2 weeks
  • Required: Close-to-final manuscript; completed Design Form
  • Resources and Notes: We ask that you fill out our Design Form to help share your vision and get the design process heading in the right direction. We’ll then have a kick-off meeting to discuss. Cover concepts will be sent to you via email as a PDF, and we ask to receive your feedback within 5 business days.

Page Design

At this stage of the process, we are designing the overall look of your book’s interior. We will send a sample of pages for you to review, including suggestions on fonts and sizes for the body text, headings, and chapter pages. It will also include any other textual and visual elements in your book that add to the overall aesthetic and reading experience. We’ll then gather your feedback to finalize the design of your book’s interior which will be used as our custom template for typesetting.

  • Timing: 2 weeks
  • Required: Final manuscript; completed Design Form
  • Resources and Notes: Page design cannot begin until the manuscript is professionally edited and final. We’ll send the page design as a PDF. To review, print the pages to see fonts at their intended size. At this time, you are reviewing and finalizing all of the design elements inside of your book. Text edits can be identified after the first layout is complete and passed on to you for review.

Step 3.



We will now go through your manuscript page-by-page and format your book using the final, approved page design, transforming your manuscript into what will ultimately be your finished book pages. We will provide a first typeset proof of your book in a PDF format for you to review and give one last proofread.

  • Timing: 2–6 weeks, depending on length and complexity
  • Required: Approved page design
  • Resources and Notes: Please note that no last-minute editorial changes will be accepted while we are typesetting your book. Any edits or typos you find should be included when you review the first typeset proof of your book (next step below). The first proof of your book will be delivered as a PDF.

Author Review

At this time, you will read through your book one more time, which is now formatted as it will look in your printed book. No doubt unseen typos and errors will jump off the page—they always do. Don’t worry, it’s all part of the process. Better yet, pass it over to your proofreader for one more review. Mark up any edits and pass them on to us to get fixed up by our team.

  • Timing: 1–2 weeks
  • Required: First typeset proof of your book
  • Resources and Notes: This is an important step that requires the author or proofreader to review the full book. We also require you to use Adobe’s Free Acrobat Reader to mark up your edits. Here is a helpful video on how to use the Adobe markup tools. Once completed, email us your PDF with the required edits, and we’ll implement them into your book layout.
  • Additional Note: We have moved beyond working with Microsoft Word, so an updated manuscript with edits will not be accepted. You are instructing the designer on edits and changes needed, not making the edits yourself.

Final Edits and Corrections

In this stage of the Mayfly book design process, we will take the compiled edits you have marked up and make any necessary changes to the first proof in the book files. Once completed, you will be provided a second proof of your book for review and approval. Repeat the step above, if necessary. This is the time to make any final changes before we go to print.

  • Timing: 1–2 weeks, depending on edits
  • Required: Author edits from first typeset proof
  • Resources and Notes: We include up to 2 rounds of revisions. We ask that authors send second- and third-round edits within a week of receiving updated page proofs for review.

Step 4.

Final Steps

Publishing Assistance

Prior to publishing your book, we can register it with the Library of Congress and obtain ISBNs for each format of your book. We can also upload final files to your established KDP or IngramSpark account if you need assistance.

  • Timing: 1 week
  • Required: Completed Registration Form from author
  • Resources and Notes: Provide exact direction on how you’d like your book registered by completing the information on our Registration Form.

Full Cover Design

Now is the time to send us your copy for the back cover, including any endorsements, author biography, images, and any other content we’ll need to build the rest of your book cover. This includes the back cover and spine for softcover books, as well as dust jacket flaps, case cover, and endpapers for hardcovers or more complex cover projects. We will collaborate on any edits and changes needed to get a final cover file for your printer.

  • Timing: 1 week
  • Required: Back cover copy (book summary, endorsements, author biography, etc.); author photo; publisher logo; ISBN; retail price
  • Resources and Notes: Don’t forget to have all of this content proofread!

Final Approval

This is the final review process before files are sent to your printer or online distributor. Send us confirmation that everything is good to go, and we will prep the final files and send them directly to you or your printer or distributor. They will likely require one more approval step before your books are finally printed.

  • Timing: 1 week
  • Required: Author approval of final print book files
  • Resources and Notes: eBook conversion will start after print book is final.

ebook Conversion

Using your finalized print book, we can format your book to an ebook suitable for reading on all major eReading devices. We will retain as much of the formatting from the print version as possible and provide an online proof for review and approval. A final, industry-standard ePub file will be provided to you for uploading to the book retailers of your choice.

  • Timing: 1–2 weeks
  • Required: Author approval of final print book files
  • Resources and Notes: We will provide a link to retrieve your final ePub file. We suggest you upload it to your KDP account and view the ebook using their online preview tool. This will give you the opportunity to preview how it will look page-by-page from there as if you were reading it on a Kindle device. This is not a time to make any edits to your manuscript. This universal ePub file can be used to upload to any online ebook retailer you choose to sell your ebook.

Final Files to Printer

Now that your print book and ebook are complete, all final PDF files of your print book and ePub file for your ebook are ready to upload to your selected printer or online distribution partner.

  • Timing: 1–2 days
  • Required: Author approval to send final files to print
  • Resources and Notes: Final deliverables will be separate, print-ready PDF files of your book’s interior and cover, plus the EPUB file and high-resolution .jpeg file of your front cover for the eBook.


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’s KDP ebook or print-on-demand services. Our typesetting service takes your Word document and creates a modern, beautiful book layout ready for 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's KDP and IngramSpark?

Yes, the great thing about working with Mayfly is that you own your final files and can upload them to any printer or distributor you choose, including Amazon’s 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’s 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 bring aboard the right talent for your project depending on the challenges for your specific 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 design and production process, 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.

I need help writing the content for the back cover of my book. What is an average word count I should aim for?

For a 6 x 9″ trim size, you should shoot for a word count of roughly 300 words, though this is dependent on how many graphics you also want to include on the back cover. If you have a dust jacket with flaps, we’ve found a word count of 200 words is a good target for the content on each flap.

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 own my files and ensure they are properly archived?

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