You now have a designer, you've negotiated a price ... and now what happens?
If you are doing a larger project, such as a web site, book trailer, or ebook design you may have been asked to pay a portion of the design cost up front or as certain stages of the project are completed. Part of this up-front payment is to enable the designer to pay for any photos, illustrations, videos, sound files etc. they might need to purchase on your behalf and also for them to be able to pay their rent and utilities while they work several weeks with you to complete a longer project. (Much like the advances a publisher can give a writer during the writing process.)
On smaller projects, such as a single postcard or bookmark design, you are more likely to be billed at the end of the project. (Note: On larger projects it is very common for a signed contract to be used - for the protection of both you and the designer. The timing of expected payments will appear on the written contract.)
A designer may also have supplied you with a proposal or a creative brief prior to signing a contract. This is where they will describe their plan of action, giving you expected deadlines and descriptions of what they plan to do for you. Often this will repeat the details you have given them about your target audience, your goals, and what you have asked them to do. Depending on the size of the project and the designer it might be handled in a less formal fashion via e-mail instead of a formal document such as a brief or proposal.
By your negotiated deadline the designer will likely send you a first draft for review. In order to prevent delays in this process you will need to provide anything you were meant to supply to the designer ASAP. Examples of such items include: a professional head shot of yourself, the cover art of your book from the publisher, and any marketing copy or other text you may have agreed to supply. Note: If you have these items ready before choosing a designer you will certainly speed up the process!
The designer will likely send you either a link to a test site or a pdf or other file via e-mail for review. Often these drafts will be low resolution and will possibly include 'mock up' or 'comp' photos that are low resolution images with watermarks still on them as they have not yet been purchased. You may even receive several files at once with different appearances. This depends on your budget and what you have agreed upon. Using comp images saves you money. It allows you to approve all images used before they are purchased.
Once you have approved a design
Design changes and new drafts will continue to go back and forth via e-mail until you approve the total design. At that point you will be invoiced either the full amount for smaller projects or the remaining amount if you are working on a larger project and paying in installments. The designer will provide you with the final files or they can also submit files on your behalf to printers and advertisers. Often this is a good choice in case there are any file issues so that you don't end up having to mediate.
With luck, you won't be left having to supplement your publisher's marketing efforts - but if you do I hope that you now know how to find some help and feel comfortable with the process.
If you already know you need supplemental materials what are they? And how much do you think it should cost? (I'm asking for sharing purposes only. If you want a quote from me let me know, but I'm just asking to get a general idea of what people need and feel they can afford.)
Suzanne Wesley works as a full-time freelance graphic artist and copywriter from her Indiana home. She is also a full-time mom of two girls under the age of 6. (Sometimes the two full-time jobs collide, but mostly it is the best job decision she ever made!) Between filling sippy cups, reading princess stories ... oh, and designing marketing materials, she sneaks in time to work on her secret passion for fiction writing.
She also reads and reviews Christian books and their cover designs on the book and cover reviewer blog - found at www.suzannewesley.com