Graphic Support for Books

While reading DonXml's post on Why Shouldn’t Authors Self-Publish?, I came across on interesting comment by Darrell Norton. He mentioned that typically graphics and images in books are not always in proportion to the quality of the writing of the book. This makes sense, most programmer writers are not skilled with the likes of graphic design and I can't imagine that it would be cost-effective for publishers to keep too many artists on staff for this kind of work.

As a designer/developer, I'm interested in how this works behind the scenes.  I've noticed the lack of quality graphics in some books, myself.  I wonder how important this is to the success of the book.  Could it warrant a service where the publisher or the author pays an outside consultant to design the graphics (or at least takes them out for a for beer)?

Any input from existing authors?  Anyone willing to pay (or bartering) for graphical support?

[Curiosity killed the cat; or at least gives him to much to do…]


  • 70% of the stuff I do is either code listing (ugh, I hate those) or screen shots. XP and SnagIt make that easy. 20% more is doable via Visio. The idea is demonstrate the concept, not win an art award.

    Its that last 10%, though, that would make me brew a beer for a good illustrator.

  • I'm guess I'm a designer/developer like you, since I find that I've been paid to do a good bit of GD over the years. But as for technical books, it is rare that graphics are needed to make a point. It is rather the code excerpts AND SCREENSHOTS that make for clear understanding of concepts, and it always surprises me how smart, technical people and their editors often handle these two aspects so badly.

  • Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    I believe I will setup a website offering services as an information designer. I think that graphics, screenshots, code excerpts and layout could all be included in this service.

    If anything it will give me an excuse to dress up all of the other websites I have running as examples…

  • Good luck with that thing. Sounds interesting. How much would you be charging though? And would you do this only for computer books or what?

  • Adam, if you're going to offer your services, if you want to collect books you could trade some skill for a freebie book. Or, as always, cash talks! :)

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