112 South Main Street; Suite #294 • Stowe, Vermont 05672


Q: How can we be sure that our materials will be safe and secure in your hands?

Hopefully this isn’t one of those “jinxing yourself never talk about a no-hitter” kind of things, but here goes:

On ocassion we have a prospective client, usually a smaller publisher or an independent author working on a complex project, have questions and concerns about sending materials to us, especially items such as important and/or unique one-of-a-kind photos, graphics, prints, etc.

Desktop Miracles works on projects with clients all over the world, routinely handling priceless personal photographs & mementos, one-of-a-kind original illustrations and artwork, and irreplaceable artifacts.

Here’s how we handle these materials:

We strongly encourage clients to make whatever kind of duplicate is possible prior to sending the original or duplicate to us. Most reasonable-size cities have a quality photolab that can help you with duplicating photos, and/or a high quality prepress scanning facility that can scan one of a kind prints and documents. You are always better safe than sorry.

We recommend shipping materials to us via UPS, with heavy insurance. The extra insurance obviously provides compensation in the event of a tragedy, but we believe it also causes the shippers to pay extra careful attention to your package. We have never experienced any loss or damage to a heavily insured UPS or Fedex package, while the standard overnight envelopes do occasionally go missing.

Do not send valuable materials via Ground Service or via the US Postal Service.

Our office mailing address is a UPS Store in the village of Stowe, primarily because our offices are outside of town on a hillside that can be tricky in winter. UPS and Fedex truck drivers don’t like icy hills. This means your packages are always delivered to a person, inside, safe, secure, and out of the elements, even during a snowstorm! They are never left on a front porch without a signature. The UPS Store notifies us upon receipt of packages , and of course we pick up mail daily.

When we receive materials for a project, we log them in one by one, and reconfirm that we have received the correct quantities of everything. This quickly establishes possession for all materials, and quickly highlights if something has not been provided. It also helps highlight quantities that have changed since the initial quoting of the job. This has proven very informative on occasion.

We then try to prepare them for print as quickly as possible, usually by scanning them at higher than necessary resolutions and archiving the files.

We then take all your original materials, including computer disks etc, box them up separately, and place them into a FIREPROOF SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX or the MAIN VAULT at our bank. One of the advantages of living in a small town!

The originals are returned to the studio only as necessary for design and production work.

They are returned via insured UPS upon completion of the job.

While none of the above comments guarantee the safety and security of items, and is not intended to be a guarantee of the safety and security, to date, we have NEVER had any problems with lost or damaged materials that are in our possession in our offices, nor have we had any issues with materials that are sent via heavily insured packages, no matter how rare or valuable.

And since we are good friends with the folks who own and operate the UPS Store in Stowe, you’d be staggered to see some of the valuable items that are routinely shipped via the overnight services.


Q: Can you give me an accurate page count from a word count?

And all of that is before the interior designers start working THEIR magic. As professionals, we can make subtle design and layout decisions that the average reader won’t be aware of, but which can effect your books *nominal* page count by +/- 10%. We can make other adjustments which are bit more noticeable, but not glaringly so, and push that variation up to 20%. On a book of 272 pages, this means we can produce an attractive book anywhere from 220 to 320 pages, depending on the clients preference for a lower cost smaller book or a more open book with a bit more heft.


Elements of a Book Cover

While there are plenty of elements that can and should be considered as part of a full cover design, there are several basic elements that must be included for your book to be taken seriously by the industry and the public.

  • Front Cover:
    • Book Title
    • Subtitle
    • Author’s Name (and don’t include “by”)
    • Descriptive text if needed to clarify subtitle or content
    • Testimonial if needed/beneficial. Can be vitally important.
  • Spine:
    • Book Title
    • Author’s Name
    • Publisher’s Name and/or Logo
  • Back Cover is more flexible, but usually includes:
    • Sales headline
    • Marketing copy
    • Testimonial blurbs
    • Author bio
    • Author photo
    • BISAC category (top left)
    • ISBN number above barcode
    • EAN barcode (bottom right)
    • Retail price
    • Publisher logo
    • Publisher’s website URL
    • Publisher’s city/state or address

It’s okay to break the rules, but you need to know the rules first, and it’s important for independent publishers to understand that they won’t be given the benefit of the doubt.
An unusual design decision or omission of customary elements won’t be considered daring, innovative, or cutting edge: it will be interpreted that you don’t know any better.