Dear authors: We all need to unfreeze

Writers, typewriters, laptops, and pens frozen in a block of ice

This year, business went completely to hell.

I'm not supposed to say that. I'm supposed to say everything's always great, all the time. But what happened was, without my doing anything different, the number of new book design jobs dropped to zero in late January—and has stayed there for six months.

As you might imagine, I have been just the slightest bit curious about why.

The first place I looked for clues, being a sensitive '80s-type guy who, you know, self-assesses and stuff, was within.

But nope. All good on my end. Good service, top-quality print layouts, up-to-date ebook features. I did lose one previously satisfied client over my offensive liberal politics, but that wouldn't explain the rest of the crickets.

So next I thought, You know . . . I think this started right around when the blight in the Oval Office started spouting about tariffs. So I went and googled a chart of the Dow, and what do you know—it looks just like my income: a steady rise since the end of the Recession (and my divorce), and then in late January, it suddenly becomes a seismograph having a heart attack. And stays that way.

1-year Dow chart

The Dow? I thought. Why on Earth would one typesetter's workload mirror the (I looked this up) price-weighted stock average of 30 major corporations? It's got to be a coincidence.

But it didn't feel like coincidence.

I thought about who my client base is. Not all liberals—but a lot. It's publishing, after all.

As a group, how are we liberals doing these days, mentally?

Well, that's easy. We're more alarmed than a street full of jewelry stores.

And how does that level of sustained alarm affect writing?


I felt that little click that says, "This right here. This is the answer."

But since I don't trust the little click anymore (see "divorce," above), I posted a poll on Facebook:


Within a couple of hours, there were 17 responses:

15 yes, 2 no


There have been more responses since then. (You can see today's numbers for yourself.) But even with just a low two-digit sample size, I decided I was right:

Business went to hell because people are too freaked out to finish their books.

Okay. Now I know what's going on. But my livelihood relies on books getting finished. What to do next?


The more sensitive reader may have gone out on a limb and guessed that Typeflow has a political bias.

It does. I'm sure I lost some potential clients because of "blight in the Oval Office," above. That's totally fine. As I tell my children: No matter what you do, somebody's going to hate it. Might as well be hated for what you really are.

However, Typeflow also exists for the sole purpose of feeding and housing those very children, which depends not just on me designing books, but on you writing them.

We both need to break this logjam. Both of us need you to finish your book.

So here's my offer:

You help me out by finishing your book, and I'll help you by giving you what every writer desperately wants:
A deadline.

A real one. Based on a deep discount.


Deliver your manuscript and start the process for a print + ebook package between August 1 and August 31, and (deep breath) I will take (second deep breath) 20% off your total, up to $500.


Deliver your manuscript and start the process for a print + ebook package between August 1 and August 31, and I will take (breathes into paper bag) 50% off your total, with no limit.

Yeah, really. I have kids to feed, and I can't feed them unless you finish something.

The catches

1. No grace period. If you deliver the manuscript on August 32, it's full price.

2. If it's a novel, the ebook version will look like a very smartly laid-out ebook and have up-to-date #a11y features (for visually impaired people who use screen readers). The print book will be 6" × 9" (the most common print-on-demand size) and look like this:

 This is a real series I design for  Laura K. Curtis . By agreement with the author, I used it to develop Typeflow's new standard look for novels.

This is a real series I design for Laura K. Curtis. By agreement with the author, I used it to develop Typeflow's new standard look for novels.

If it's not a novel, the print book will be intelligently and beautifully designed after we talk about what it needs, and the ebook version will maintain that look and feel, with invisible #a11y features for people using screen readers.

3. If a bazillion people go for this, there may be a delay. But you'll be finishing your book AND saving 20% or 50%, so: WORTH IT. Plus I'll be communicative about the schedule.

That's it. I think that's where you all went, and I want you all back.



The usual price for a print/ebook package for a novel is 1¢ per word, with a $900 minimum, so with the discount, it'll be ½¢ per word, with a $450 minimum. Additional work, if any (eg, typo corrections, flowing in new text, designing a back-of-book ad) is included in the 50% discount.

Not novels

Books that aren't novels need individual estimates, so please email for a rate sheet and a conversation.

What to do

When your manuscript is ready, fill this out and email the manuscript here.

Please note: Typeflow charges 50% up front. That can be paid before or after you send the manuscript, but BOTH have to happen by August 31.

Questions? Email.

I want you to finish your book. You want you to finish your book.

So finish your book.

Time left:

The details

Discount applies to the final total of one print/ebook package. Does not apply to any future work on the same title after it has been published (reprint corrections, new editions, etc.).

Deliverables: For print, a press-ready PDF, suitable for print-on-demand or offset printing. For ebooks, a MOBI file (for Amazon) and an EPUB3 file (for everyone else).

Discount applies to Typeflow's work, which is book interior design and production, project management, and art direction. Job expenses (cover designers, illustrators, proofers, stock art, etc.) are not discounted. Typeflow is not a printer.

"Start the process" means send the finished manuscript and pay half the total estimate up front. It doesn't matter which happens first, but both have to happen between August 1 and 31. The other half, plus any additional fees (e.g., for proofing changes), is due upon final approval of files. If it's a really big book, there may be three "milestone payments" instead, but this will be clear before any work starts.

Proofing changes and reflow are included in the discount, but all these warnings still apply.

I think that's it, but I reserve the right to come back here at two in the morning and add anything I forgot.