• DO keep your audience in mind. For example, children's books have unique criteria. You can forget about applying a decorative UV to a children's title. That's a big "no-no," because safe and non-toxic materials are an absolute pre-condition for kid's books.
• DO budget for turnaround times. Special items usually require special lead times. There's no sense in designing for a material that won't be available for six weeks, unless you budget for that turnaround.
• DO consider how your book design will be handled. If you're applying matte lamination on a black background, there's a good chance the covers will scuff as they rub against each other during shipping. These issues are often overlooked in cover designs. Plan to shrink-wrap or specially pack the books, or be prepared to accept scuffed books. Likewise, a gloss lamination will show fingerprints on dark backgrounds. This is harder to circumvent, so design with this in mind.
• DON'T get all your paper choices from your printer. I strongly suggest designers build relationships with the paper manufacturers for an added edge. The professionals representing cover material and paper companies are notoriously creative; tap into them! Be conscious of selecting the correct substrate for the correct marketplace. For example, an elementary school title has requirements that are different from a trade or college title.
• DON'T expect a selected paper to do what it can't do. You shouldn't try to emboss on a stock that's too thin, or try to fold a stock that's too rigid.
Cover materials and decorating techniques evolve like trends in automotive design or fashion. To stay in vogue requires deliberate research and effort.
Look around. You're surrounded by people who are equally passionate about the craft of book design. Maybe we should start a support group. Let's just leave out the 12-step program.