Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
The last stop on this week’s tour of Your Publishing House, Inc. is Production. This room is necessarily quite large, a suite actually, since it contains several rooms within for designers, typesetters, print buyers, and product managers. Consider this department to be operations central for the transformation of your manuscript into a printed book. The work these people do is both an art and a science. Again, every publishing house has its unique structure, but I’m combining them here because it’s Friday—we’re out of time—and all these areas are intertwined anyway.
The designer of your book notes the many design elements: title and half-title pages, chapter titles, headers, sub-heads, sidebars, dingbats, charts, extracts, and so on, and assigns fonts, leading, and kerning for each as well as for the body text. He then creates a list of design codes for each element and forwards this to the editors. As I mentioned in Wednesday’s blog, the editors enter the designer’s codes in the appropriate places on the edited manuscript. Now the electronic file is ready for typesetting.
Moving across the suite to typesetting, you will see a number of computer stations where typesetters are applying the design codes to the specific text and transferring the manuscript to electronic book pages. These electronic book pages become the initial galleys. This process sounds fairly simple and straightforward, but a detail missed can be costly in time and money. Imagine typesetting all the elements of a Bible, especially a new translation where the Bible text itself has never been typeset before. An art and a science!
Print buyers are the cost monitors of each book. They use formulas to determine every cost from choice of paper, binding, finished page count, number of copies in the first print run, and elements used for the cover such as embossing and matte or gloss finish, to calculate the cost of goods (COG). If the COG is more than the estimate originally approved by the publication committee, adjustments might be required. The print buyer contacts the printer and schedules the due date early in the process to give the printer time to order the paper. And the product manager, or hall monitor for the sake of this tour, oversees the schedule for each step in the production process.
In recent years publishing houses have released fewer books per year, but the larger houses can still produce up to two hundred. Each book goes through this process, and publishers must make every hour and dollar count to survive and to protect their employees’ jobs. Christian publishing has a special mandate in today’s culture to keep producing books, whether print or electronic (reserved for future discussion), that draw culture back to the God of the universe, who is REAL and who paid the price for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him. Authors, agents and publishers are in this mission together, and we need to make every book count.
What do you think? How has your understanding of publishers and your relationship with them changed as a result of the tour this week?
Having this inside view definitely makes me appreciate all that goes into creating a book. As an author, there is a lot of wait time, especially for a picture book that requires numerous illustrations. It’s easy to get frustrated. But seeing how much time and effort is put into one book out of hundreds, allows you to be more patient and understanding of all the team players.
Thanks for a great week of wonderful and helpful posts.
Thanks so much for giving us a solid look at what makes a book a book in your stellar series here! Even though I’m in the door, so to speak, and have a publisher, much of what you’ve shared here is new to me. It’s a fascinating process and I love your emphasis on Christ as the mandate pubs/authors have to impact the culture.
It’s been a goal/wish of mine to visit my publisher to see firsthand some of the things you explain here. I’d love to put faces to all that email, etc. I know I’d learn a lot by visiting. Thanks so much for everything – I’ve enjoyed everyone’s comments, too.
What an excellent week of posts! Thanks for the inside glimpse. I’ll revisit these whenever I have the privilege of walking through this process.
I definately have a deeper respect for all the publishing company does to ensure that my book is not only the best it can be but also beautifully illustrated and profitable. I loved this weeks blogs! Thank you for the insight. I think when my time comes I will be better prepared for the steps involved!
I am so glad I’m not a typesetter. They must need an incredible amount of knowledge and patience. Thank you, Mary, for these inside views. I’ve learned a lot, and better understand the novelist’s place within the much larger picture.
You gotta feel for those who have to wade through the intricacies of the business and technical side of books. Time-consuming and expensive process!
This week’s series has been very fun and helpful. Thanks, Mary!
Question: Do the people involved in the prodcution side of things read the manuscripts they’re working on? That may be a really silly question, but I was just curious if they take their design cues from the story itself or from marketing, or what. 🙂
I just caught up with Wednesday’s and Thursday’s posts. Talk about an eye-opening series! Thank you.
One thing that stuck out with me throughout the week is the importance of communication with the editor. With strict schedules and so many people working on the book, we need to be very mindful of our impact on the process.
I really like your advice about letting our agents be the go-between when there is a problem.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Melissa K Norris
This has been a great week of posts. There is a lot of work by many people to produce a novel.
But I love how you reminded us that it’s all about bringing God to other’s and His glory. What a high calling and priveledge to be a part of that. I used to belong to a secular writer’s organization, and am so happy and blessed to have found the Christian market.
Thanks for the insights!
Oops, just kidding! I see that you already addressed my question in an earlier entry this week. Somehow I missed it. Thank you! 🙂
I thoroughly appreciate everything Books & Such does for us writers,regardless of our relationship to your agency. As a newbie, I have learned a lot and continue to adjust my expectations to the realities of this industry.
I enjoyed your virtual tour and meeting the staff and seeing their departments. Oh, how I wish I could have lingered longer – perhaps someday. Mary, I must confess, while your back was turned, I did sneak back into one of the rooms. There, I thought I saw a white board with projects slated through 2013. If so, is that true of most houses or do I need new glasses?
Michael K. Reynolds
Getting this precious glimpse behind the paper curtain of the publishing industry really gets the adreneline flowing. Writing is such a lonely exercise at times that it’s exciting to see how many other players are actually on the team. There is a real drumbeat that builds as our books approach publication. Thank you for this wonderful week of insights.
What a process! New appreciation for publishing houses is an affirmative. Thanks again for the eye opening information. 🙂
I just happened on a Tweet of this site and am so glad I clicked over! I have some back reading to do…but wow, thanks for the insights.
Edge of Your Seat Romance
Thanks to all of you for your comments. I’m glad the tour was helpful.
Lindsay, to answer your question more fully, the acquisition editor gives several chapters of your book to the designer to read. This helps him get a feel for your story and tone.
Sue, publishers have already been acquiring for 2012, and it’s possible some projects could be slated beyond that if the publisher find a great manuscript they don’t want to lose, but current slots are filled or the manuscript can’t be completed sooner.
As a writer and a reader, I’ve given little thought to the wonderful people who use their God-given talents to transform words into books that we can hold in our hands, carry with us, give as gifts (and yes, download to a screen). Thanks, Mary, for introducing me to them. God bless them all!
Morgan L. Busse
This has been series has been very insightful. Thank you Mary 🙂
I’ve been snowed under this week and just got the blog today. Since I used to work in a small print shop, this post was familiar territory to me. Great presentation.
However, when I tried to back up to read the prior posts (where I was less familiar with procedures), I had to go through several gyrations to get there.
Is there a way to add a navigation button to get to older posts easily? Or did I just not see it?
Larry B Gray
Thanks for the series this week. I have enjoyed each installment and the associated comments. They have been so informative and interesting. I have learned a lot about this exciting industry and world of publishing.
Wow, thanks for the stroll through the complex, often imposing world of publishing. “Seeing” the process gives me a greater appreciation for the team effort required to produce a book. I was encouraged by your reminder of the mandate for Christian publishing….to draw culture back to the REAL God! And I love the REAL help that Books & Such provides.
Judith, if you go back to the first screen that pops up when you click on the blog tab, there is a link “Older Entries” at bottom of the screen.