Skip to content

Six to Nine Months Before Publication

Six to Nine Months Before Publication—The Frenzy Intensifies

The copy-edited manuscript returns. Both editor and writer go over it. They make necessary changes on the manuscript and return it to the production department. The legal department produces a copyright page for the book and gives it to the production department so that the copyright page can be included in the galley proofs. The production department adds or reserves space for additional front and back matter, for every thing from fly pages and title pages to publisher ads, in the manuscript. The production editor sends out the finished copy-edited manuscript to a typesetting company. Depending on the format the publisher provides, the typesetter will either scan the paper manuscript or load the electronic file for the book and produce galley pages. In certain cases, the book goes to a book designer as well, so it can have special layouts and lovely type design, though many books just use a standard house style. Because of the way books are produced, the number of pages for the final layout has to be a multiple of sixteen, including all front matter and back matter, whether present or prospective, and the book itself. If somebody goofs up, either by counting wrong or by not producing material that had a place held for it in the galley stage, you’ll see blank pages in the finished book that don’t appear to serve any useful purpose. Meanwhile, the copy for the cover shows up. The editor and writer will, with the approval of the publisher and copy chief, rewrite it and/or approve it. The cover copy goes to the art department. The art department will unite the art they’ve commissioned based on the cover memo from the editor plus input from an art meeting with the publisher, editor-in-chief, and the editor, and lettering, along with mundane things like an ISBN and a price (or several, for Canada and anywhere else they plan to distribute the book) and two bar codes (one for the EAN, which is scanned by supermarkets and reads prices only, and one for the ISBN which reads book number and price) with the copy, to produce a cover proof. These days, covers are often printed on both sides (cover 1—the front cover, cover 2—the inside front cover, cover 3—the inside back cover, cover 4— the outside back cover), so cover 2 and 3 material is proofed as well. This initial proof goes around the office to be looked at, proofread, and commented upon. Everyone involved—publisher, editorial director, editor, art director, copy chief, editor, production editor—puts in their two cents’ worth and signs off on the proof. A copy of these signatures is kept for finger-pointing later in case of errors.

Meanwhile, the marketing department has been writing copy for the monthly or seasonal catalogue that accounts will get along with the cover flats (literally flat covers, with no book attached). The catalogue includes information about advertising and marketing plans, estimated print runs for lead titles, planned media coverage, sweepstakes or giveaways, whether prepackaged displays will be available and what they’ll consist of, information about author tours, whether galleys will be available, how many and what kind, where the author lives, quotes from reviews of the author’s previous books, or, in the case of a paperback release of a trade edition or a reissue, quotes from reviews about this book. Everything out of the ordinary to promote a book will require at least one meeting between the marketing people and the editor-in-chief and publisher to produce that decision. The catalogue will also include a picture of each book’s cover and a short synopsis of its contents. The proofs for this are circulated for proofreading and are signed. Any additional sales material or special kits for books to be released that month are circulated for proofreading. Again, the signatures are filed for later finger-pointing.

The art department circulates final copies of cover flats, printed at the cover factory on the same sort of stock that will be used for the actual cover flats. By this point, with a few small exceptions (changing foil color, for example, to improve readability) corrections to a cover are very expensive. It costs serious money to make color separations, and to carve the dies for foiling, embossing, and die-cutting, and then to produce the flats. Corrections can mean all of that has to be redone. It’s far better to catch errors before this stage. Too many errors, and the art and production departments get cranky, and editors start getting chewed out. Just for the record, the major rule of publishing is that everything is the editor’s fault.  Even when a piece of cover art went through a major publisher’s system with a heroine with three arms (not surprisingly, she had two in the book), it wasn’t the artist’s fault for screwing up the painting, or the art director’s fault for laying it out without checking it against the art memo.  It was the editor’s fault for not noticing.

Next: Six to Nine Months before publication

%d bloggers like this: