Interview with Deranged Doctor Designs
Welcome to our year-long series on book cover artists and designers. Previously, we’ve talked with individual artists Chris McGrath and Gene Mollica. Today we’re interviewing Darja from Deranged Doctor Designs, a company who specializes in creating book covers, branding, and promotional materials for self-published authors.
Check out Deranged Doctor Designs website and social media:
Hi, Darja. Welcome to One Book Two! Okay, so first I gotta ask, what lead you to choose the name Deranged Doctor Designs?
Our primary goal was to find the company name that would be easy to remember, but also unique; the name that will ensure that when clients see it for the first time, there’s no way they’ll forget it. 😀 We brainstormed for days before deciding on Deranged Doctor Design. There were some concerns that we might not be taken seriously enough because of the name, but then we said “What the hell…it’s too good not to make it our own.” 🙂
It’s an awesome name! Your clients are primarily self-published authors. What is your process for working with an author on a design?
The difference between DDD and most other companies doing cover design is that we have a project manager who is the main point of contact. She has significant experience in book promotion and publishing, and is therefore in charge of complete correspondence with the author on one side, while communicating with and handling designers on the other. Meaning, there is no direct contact between the author and designer. This may sound strange at first, but we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re getting much better results when designers are getting directions from our project manager who can, if needed, reshape some of the author’s initial ideas, all with the main goal of designing a best-seller cover.
We design strong genre covers that will sell the book. Even if it means sometimes talking the author out of their initial cover idea. 😉 We will never deliver a product that won’t “work.”
I see you use some stock photography in your designs. Do you use all stock or do you do any custom photography?
Most of our clients are self-published authors working on a budget, so we are trying to maintain affordable prices. Custom photography would mean raising our cover design package prices quite a lot, so for now we are going with stock photos only.
I know sometime stock images can get overused. At One Book Two, we are particularly amused by the character we call “The Hoodie Hottie.” Do you run into similar problems when using stock images? How do you combat the overuse of certain images?
This is the constant problem when using stock images. The best quality photos are always very popular, so many designers are using them. Furthermore, there is a constant demand for a particular photo/model type (bare-chested man, hooded man/woman, woman/couple in historical clothes, man holding a sword), and not enough different photos available, so the ones that are available get overused. But sometimes we have to compromise if we want to stay in the current price range. That’s why we never use the photo as-is (and just slap the title over it), but try to change it as much as possible using a lot of effects and filters. Also, we never use fewer than 2–3 photos for one cover. When needed, we even go with 10+ photos per cover.
It also looks like you have illustrated covers with no photography. Do you do digital illustration?
We are outsourcing digital illustration when custom illustrations are needed. The prices for those projects are higher than standard cover design prices and are calculated depending on each project’s requirements and scope of work (prices range between $400 and $900 USD). But most of the illustrated covers you can see in our portfolio are done in-house, combining several illustrations and vectors available on stock (standard cover design price).
We also offer fantasy map design where prices depend on the map size and number of details (prices range between $200 and $350 USD per map).
You don’t appear to be located in the US. Where are your offices?
We are located in Belgrade, Serbia—that’s in Southeast Europe. 🙂
Does being non-native English speakers pose any problems for you in interpreting what a client wants?
Even though we are not native English speakers, we don’t have any problems communicating with our clients, considering that everybody speaks fluent English (this is a must when we are hiring), and most of us have experience working in multinational companies. Most of our clients are really surprised when they realize we’re not from the US. That’s usually when they propose a phone consultation and we have to explain that the phone call would cost them more than the cover design itself. 😀 😀
Not only do you create book covers, but you also create social media headers, teaser graphics, swag like bookmarks and postcards, and even teaser videos for books. What is your process for creating those?
We use images from the cover design to created branded marketing material for the author. We try to be a one-stop-shop because authors find it easier to order everything from one place and get back to writing. Clients usually order promotional materials and swag together with cover design, and sometimes they also order formatting services.
What are formatting services?
Formatting a book means preparing a manuscript’s text so the final product looks professional when published. There are 2 types of formatting:
ebook formatting: reshaping a Word file following ebook formatting guidelines. We use the Smashwords Style Guide. When a Word file is uploaded to Amazon/Smashwords, their software transforms the file from Word to mobi/epub and publishes the book in that format. If the Word file uploaded during the publishing process isn’t formatted well, the end product will have a lot of issues (blank pages, overlapping lines, table of contents not working…). Bad ebook formatting is one of the reasons why authors may have high number of returned copies (refunds). Furthermore, if you plan to use Smashwords for publishing to other retailers (like B&N etc), the book will be rejected unless all guidelines are followed. For this service, a customer provides us their WORD file, then we format it and return a FORMATTED WORD file suitable for ebook publishing.
paperback formatting: also called interior book design. This is done in InDesign, a professional program for creating interior book layouts. When the text is formatted, we deliver a PDF file suitable for CreateSpace (Amazon) upload. You can always convert your Word file to PDF yourself ( “choose page size and save as PDF”) and publish it on CreateSpace. Most self-pub authors working on budget decide to go with this DIY option. But if you want your book to look professional, I would recommend hiring a professional. Especially if you have a book signing or some convention/author events planned.
As a note, we don’t accept separate formatting projects. We only offer formatting when it’s ordered together with cover design 😉
Cool. I’ve talked with authors who struggle with formatting. Can you tell me more about the trailer videos for books? Those have become really popular.
We don’t make standard trailers—a lot of different-style pictures/small video caps and text where everything seems like it’s coming from different sources. We offer “branded teaser style” with strong branding completely adapted to follow book branding and make a client’s book/name/brand even more recognizable. We use photo-slide types only, where each slide is done in Photoshop.
DDD has some fantastic cover designs, you work in all genres, and your prices seem really reasonable. What do you think is the most important part of your business for customers? What makes authors choose DDD and come back for more?
I’m proud to say that we have more than 95% return customers. And more than 80% of new customers are coming as referrals from our clients. Google and social media do the other 20%.)
Aside from high-quality cover design and good prices, we give our customers the best possible customer service—short email response time; agreed-upon deadlines followed 100 percent of the time, no exceptions (sometimes we even deliver earlier); accepting urgent projects without additional charges (even if it means we’ll be working weekends); even giving advice to debut authors if they get stuck at some point during their publishing process. Each and every client is important to us. And even if they’re publishing for the first time, everybody is treated as a NYT #1 best-selling author. 🙂
That’s awesome! So, how can authors contact you for a cover design?
They should definitely visit our website first (www.derangeddoctordesign.com), to get ideas on our design styles and see if these would fit their requirements, as well as to get some information on our packages and prices. There is also a “How We Work” page where authors can read more about the whole process.
For short questions, authors can contact us via Twitter and Facebook if they prefer, but orders are accepted via email only at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently booking projects for May. 🙂
Thank you so much to Darja and Deranged Doctor Designs for taking the time to talk to us. As a special bonus, DDD is giving away one PRINT + SOCIAL MEDIA design package for FREE during our Birthday Blast Giveaway! That’s a FREE book cover design for any self-published authors who read our blog. Stay tuned on March 9th to hear all about our Birthday Blast Givaway. It’s gonna be EPIC!