Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Printing

And now for something completely different!

As an editor, I work on the book production side of things. There are lots of people who work on books, and I like to divide them into two sides: production and marketing. Essentially, I consider these categories to represent the people who work (1) on the book itself and (2) on selling the book. Both sides are crucial, of course, and are certainly not opposed.

But a thing I recognized today was that, perhaps because of my primary division, I spend a lot of time thinking about the other side of the book process, but not really a lot of time thinking about the other (non-editing) things happening on my side.

Primarily, things on the production side involve several rounds of editing, design (exterior and interior), and printing. All of these steps require multiple people. On an editing team, there will often be developmental editing, fact-checking, substantive editing, copyediting, indexing, and proofreading, and those may all be handled by different people—there may even be multiple people assigned to one of those tasks! On the design team, there will usually be both a cover designer and a layout designer. When it comes to printing, the process can be immense and complex.

St. Louis Writers Meetup organizer and fiction writer Kurt Pankau (@kurtpankau on Twitter) shared this gem of a post from Tor art director Irene Gallo. It's titled "This is How Huge Door-stopper Fantasy Novels Get Made," and it features a bunch of photos from the book printing process. Judging by appearances, it looks like the steps involved require a lot more people than editing and design combined.

Many thanks to Gallo for the post and to Pankau for bringing it to my attention.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Traditional Publishing

This is the second installment of a three-part series on publishing avenues. You can find the first post here.
. . . people who continually predict that traditional publishing will disappear simply do not understand how multinational companies with holdings around the world operate.
Now that self-publishing is all the rage and easier than ever (you can publish a book directly to Kindle within minutes), the Big Five publishing houses are slowly evaporating, their foundations usurped by new technology, right? Well, not exactly. While it may be intuitive to think that self-publishing and e-books have undermined traditional publishers, they are still doing great jobs selling books and finding authors to publish. While self-publishing opened a host of new doors for masses of previously unpublished writers, traditional publishing still offers quite a few reasons to be sought after.

Let’s first address the obvious: the Big Five have tons of money. That means they can bankroll the capital investments necessary to launch nationwide publicity campaigns, buying the public’s favorable opinion the same way other product manufacturing and distributing corporations do. And they’ve been in the business long enough to acquire top-level talent in every field. Big publishing houses have experienced editors working in tandem with marketing and design teams, whose coordinated efforts do much to ensure that a high-quality book will be produced and will sell—a lot.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a small three-part series on publishing avenues. These posts will explore some advantages, drawbacks, difficulties, and benefits of various methods authors can use to produce, market, and ultimately sell their books.

The publishing arena is often divided into two courts: self-publishing and traditional publishing. These two are the most talked about and the easiest to categorize, so I will dedicate the first two posts to them. However, it’s important to recognize that there are limitless possibilities when it comes to how a book can be published, so I’d like to spend the third post in this series discussing some of the countless ways to step outside and transverse those two courts.

First, because it’s certainly been the hottest topic in publishing for the last decade, let’s talk about self-publishing. To begin, we’ll need to cross out what self-publishing isn’t. Self-publishing is not a place or a business. It is not a format or a medium. It is not ebooks, and it is not indie presses. It is not new, nor is it only recently possible. Self-publishing simply means the author calls the shots. It means there’s no publisher’s name or logo hogging space on the cover or in the front matter.

Every time I post a blog on this site through Blogspot, I am self-publishing. This may seem counterintuitive, since you might think Blogspot would be my publisher. But I am using Blogspot to publish my posts like a press, not submitting my writing to them to publish under their name. In the same way, you could go the traditional route and submit your manuscript to Acme Publishing Company, who may process it and send it out to ABC Press for printing, or you can skip the middleman and send your manuscript directly to ABC Press for printing, in which case you will have self-published.