Most designers require a brief that outlines the basic premise of the book, its genre, the intended audience and any budgetary information that will impact upon the production values. The brief is passed to the designer at least 6 months before the publication date, but this is often longer. The cover design process occurs fairly early on in the project schedule, allowing time for proofs to be sent out and changes to be made. Depending on the printer, the cover is usually printed prior to the galley, so it is ready for binding.
A designer has to consider colour when laying out the book cover. When designing on a computer, usually with the Adobe programs; Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, the colour on-screen is not always representative of the colour that will be obtained when printing. Sometimes this is due to screen calibration, but other factors can affect this output, including the set-up of the printer and the paper finishing. Coatings used in the manufacture of paper, such as china clay and titanium oxide are used to obtain a smooth finish and cause the ink to behave differently compared to an uncoated paper. Similarly, coatings applied during the printing process such as UV varnishes or laminations can also affect the colour output. By using Pantone guides, a designer can gauge the appearance of their work, once printed.