Blogger: Mary Keeley
Location: Books & Such Midwest Office, IL
Today, let’s proceed to the hallway. Interesting thing about hallways: They both divide rooms and connect them. Will we see the traffic moving steadily in one direction? If not, is there a hall monitor present to control and direct traffic?
You published authors know the answers already. A constant flow exists between marketing, editorial, design, and production departments. Once your contract is fully executed and your book’s release date is assigned, a production schedule is created. Many factors go into every decision that Your Publishing House, Inc. makes in this process: the optimum selling season for your book’s release, the number of other books in your genre they are publishing during that season, and the workload in each department–editorial in particular. In a busy season, freelance editors often are hired to help out. Such factors affect the profit margin. Your publisher has carefully planned this out.
So who is the hall monitor who keeps traffic moving back and forth on schedule, without missing any stops along the way? Each publishing house has its unique structure, but this person usually resides in the production department as a product manager assigned to your book. He or she is the one who created your book’s production schedule by coordinating with each department to establish reasonable due dates for the dozens of steps in the process. If a delay occurs or something unforeseen comes up, the product manager keeps the acquisitions editor updated and negotiates with all departments to adjust the schedule while maintaining the final to-the-printer deadline.
Needless to say, meeting all your own deadlines in this process is important. Exceed them, and everyone on the publishing team will remember you always. An unmet deadline has a ripple effect all the way down the hall. A pattern of missed deadlines can cause your book to be bumped to a different and not so optimum selling season, with possible ripple effect on revenue potential.
So when you receive those galleys and first pages, review them right away—and thoroughly. Catch errors the first time around. I know of a project that went to a fifth round of pages! This completely blew the production schedule. Because the author brought in significant revenue, the publisher was motivated to make up the production time in-house. But it required not only long hours for the staff in every department, but also a call to the printer begging for a few extra days grace in delivering the final files. Because of course, they have their production schedule too. Today’s tip is obvious: Support your team by meeting your deadlines.
Did I give you a clear view of the hallway? Any questions or personal experiences you would like to share that would be helpful to us?