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?
Mary, I am loving this week’s blog!
What is the average time from acceptance of contract with a publishing company to the deadline before printing happens?
Melissa K Norris
For my current WIP I started writing it as if I already had a dealine. As an unpublished author, but with an agent submitting my proposal, I wanted to see realistically how long it would take me to write, edit, and revise a new manuscript (76,000 words). This way, when that contract does come for a multi-book deal (a girl must stay positive), I’ll be able to agree to a deadline I know I can meet. We do want the publishers/editors to be our friends.
Thanks for all the great insight to the inner workings. Eager for the rest of the week’s posts.
Very interesting, Mary! Thanks for this sneak peek into the process.
I don’t have experience with meeting a publisher’s deadlines yet. But as a former tax accountant, I’ve lived the day-to-day (or night-to-night) push to meet deadlines…The IRS isn’t so forgiving of a late submission. 🙂
Mary, This is an excellent feature. I’ve been through the whole process, and I have to underscore how important meeting deadlines is. Believe me, publishers put Santa Claus to shame when it comes to long memories of authors who are either naughty or nice.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for this series of inside looks at the publishing house. Very interesting things!
I knew that missing a deadline would ripple to all the departments, but had never thought about it causing a shift to a “not so optimum” selling season. Can you explain a little about that? What constitutes an optimum season for a book, other than things like seasonal tie-ins?
Loving the topic this week. Thanks, Mary!
Thanks for all the information. I’m learning a lot this week! 🙂
Thank you all for responding. I’m glad the tour is helpful. Salena, for a standard 80,000 word fiction book, a rough average from submission of complete manuscript to the printer due date is somewhere around four months. But there are many variables: how clean your manuscript is going in, editorial and design load, and the release date the publisher is targeting, to name a few. Some publishers focus on fiction and can get books through the process faster than those that publish all kinds. It’s even harder to give an average for a nonfiction book because of varying word counts,complexity of interior design, whether permissions are needed, and so on.
Leigh, regarding optimum selling season, several factors acquisition editors and marketers consider when deciding on the optimum season are: if the subject matter ties in with a current event or holiday, if they are publishing any other books on the same topic in the same season (which means they’d be competing with themselves for sales), and if they want to promote it as a new release at the International Christian Retailers Show. They would want to release a 365-day devotional in the Fall for Christmas shoppers.
I love the idea of a hall monitor! Seriously, though, a product manager must be pretty special to be able to juggle so many different aspects. They’re like the unsung heroes of the publishing world.
Mary, Thank you for the information and for putting together this week’s blog!
I, too, am thankful for the emphasis you placed on specific people and departments that are affected by just one missed deadline. Seems like one way of serving and loving others in this situation is to do your part as well as you can and on time!
Thank you for this inside look!