What needs to be done when publishing a book

People I work with and for often want to know what goes into a finished book.  Once you’ve got the text sorted, what happens next?  Well here’s a little guide.

When I receive a book for publication or when my competitions have run their course and my winners and contributors are ready to go to print there are a few things that I do before anything else happens.  Most of my publishing packages will have an editing price factored in and I’ll send them to my editor in York for her perusal – she’s a fantastic proof reader.  If the writer in question has chosen a cheaper option without editing costs factored in I’ll still have a read as I know I don’t want to be associated with badly written work any more than they do.  I’ll have a read through to see if everything looks right and then I’ll step back.  I leave it for a couple of days before doing a final check.  There’s nothing worse than a typo in a published manuscript.  It’s just that sinking feeling and I don’t want anyone I work with to have to feel that.  (This said, always ALWAYS do your own checking and have a friend check too)

While I’m waiting for my brain to cool off between readings I work with our graphic designer on a couple of cover options and send them to the author.  They choose the one they like and we refine it until it’s perfect.  You shouldn’t (can’t) judge a book by it’s cover, but people will try.  Humans are visual creatures, we choose things based on aesthetics and the success of failure of a book can be decided before anyone’s even read the thing.  Assigning an ISBN is easy as we have a batch of them for our publishing company and tend to use them in order.  The ISBN needs to be displayed on the back cover along with the price and ISBN bar code.  There are lots of free websites that will help with this.

After proofing and the design of the cover we need to work on the formatting.  Most of the books I produce are A5 size (14.8cm x 21cm or 5.8in x 8.3 in).  To format these books is really simple – just open your word document and select A5 as your paper size, adjust the margins to something sensible and save the document as a PDF for the printer.  We send the front cover, back cover and spine as separate PDFs as it’s neater if anything needs to be changed.  Our printer sorts out the pagination for us.  Pagination is the order that the pages have to be printed onto the paper so that they stay in the correct sequence when the pages are folded into signatures and the book is put together. (It’s too complicate for me to work out!)

Once the books arrive I send a copy to the British Library and 5 to the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries in Edinburgh.  This means that my writer’s don’t have to worry about the legality of their books – once it’s been deposited then it’s official.

Some of my packages also include a little PR.  This is a little trickier.  I will contact book bloggers and reviewers to see if they want a any of the books that I’ve got out at the moment.  I also send out press releases to news outlets local to the writer and in some cases I pay a professional book publicist to deal with it for me as well.

I offer publishing and printing services that are cheaper than a lot of companies, there’s a chance that they have higher over-heads and staffing costs than me, there’s no implication that they’re taking the Micky with their prices.

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