Your best bet is to talk to your local supplier of retaining wall products and ask them for an installation manual for their products. Pavestone, Versalok, and others all put out good manuals that talk about the necessary installation procedures, compaction of the base and the backfill, etc. You can also get the same information online at the retaining wall manufacturers' sites.
Once you get a basic understanding, there are many guys on here that do alot of retaining walls. Stuvecorp is someone who comes to mind as he does quite a few walls and has helped me in the past.
BTW- what do you mean by an open faced retaining wall? I haven't heard that terminology around my area before.