Surviving the book production process

The book production process is definitely a challenging part of getting your book published. There are four distinct phases to the publication process: conceptualizing and planning, writing and revising, production, and marketing. In my view, as a business owner there is a fifth process, too, and that is monetizing – the process of turning your book into a money-making product or one that significantly develops and grows your business in some way.

Today, though, I’m going to focus on the book production process because it is a place that many self-publishing authors get stuck, especially if they want to get their book published in print.

Project editing

Professional publishers have an in-house editor who hires freelancers to do work like copy editing, proofreading and indexing while an art director hires cover artists, illustrators and text designers. This not only takes away the responsibility for hiring staff from the author, it also provides a buffer between the in-house editor and the freelance edit.

The book production process is definitely a challenging part of getting your book published. Click To Tweet

However, with self-publishing, this buffer is not there so you need to do this work and manage these relationships yourself. As well as hiring and briefing the copy editor, the tasks that an in-house editor would do for you include: inputting corrections, issuing proofs, managing the schedule and coordinating the work so everything gets done on time and within the set budget.

As a self-publisher, you need to be able to do all of this yourself, unless you get the work done for you by a project editor. Be aware that it isn’t a case of sending your book out to someone, getting it back and moving on to the next task. There will be gaps to fill in the book, changes to input onto a master copy, decisions to be made about prelims and a deadline to keep to at the same time.

Kindle books

The work you need to do to publish a Kindle book is slightly different to that for publishing a print book. In fact, you need to manage them separately as soon as the editing process is finished. This is as good a reason as any to produce one format before the other as it gives you more time to concentrate on each one.

The basic Kindle production process

  1. Copy editing
  2. Answering editorial queries, rewriting, adding text
  3. Checking
  4. Inputting corrections
  5. Checking
  6. Inputting more corrections
  7. Checking again
  8. Proofreading
  9. Inputting corrections
  10. Formatting in Kindle
  11. Checking for formatting errors
  12. Inputting corrections
  13. Doing final checks
  14. Inputting final corrections
  15. Uploading and publishing

The number of times you go through the check and correct process depends on what comes to light during this process. Each time you check and correct, you will notice something new that is wrong. Do your best to limit the number of times you go through this process, though, because it is time-consuming and it can be stressful.

Editorial correction process

Avoid the attitude that you can keep correcting you book ad infinitum, because if you think this way you won’t check thoroughly. You need to make each checking phase meaningful and you need to input your changes methodically, otherwise you will be in danger of creating more errors. One of the tasks a project editor does only is to check that all the errors marked on the proof has been input correctly before another set of proofs is issued.  If you do the same, it will prevent you from going over the same ground over and over again.

Publishing is undoubtedly a laborious process, but this is because errors are so easy to miss at one stage and find at another. You need to allow time for this work and be committed to doing it properly because if you don’t your book will be riddled with mistakes.

Print books

With a print book, this process becomes longer and even more involved because text design is more detailed and makes more stringent demands on the checking and correcting process. Most notably, you will not do a full proofread until your book has been laid out into pages. At that point, you will go through and check for typographical errors and for layout issues.

To resolve layout issues, you may need to cut and add words and sentences to make the text fit well onto the pages. You need to resolve these issues because they will affect how your book looks. More importantly, when you print, each page costs you money, so you need to avoid blank pages and pages that have only a few lines on them. Keep your book looking professional and ensure that each new chapter starts on a right-hand page.

Before you hit the button and order hundreds of copies of your book, get an advanced proof so you can check that everything is as you expected it to be. When your book file gets transferred to the publication format, unexpected errors can show up such as fuzzy illustrations, poorly-fitting covers, rogue characters and issues with fonts and spacing. Make sure you check your book carefully in its finished format before you get carried away and order thousands of copies or hit the ‘Publish’ button.

Think before you print

Books take up a lot of space and soak up moisture like sponges so if you decide to order a lot of copies, make sure you have a dry space in which to store them. Ideally, you need to be sure you will be able to sell or distribute any books you buy in bulk fairly rapidly so they are not sitting around for too long.

Apart from the storage issues, you will eventually want to make changes to your book and if you have hundreds of printed copies you will have a lot of copies to get rid of before you can create a new edition. This could be a frustrating situation, especially if there is a good marketing or commercial opportunity you want to take up.

Of course, you could issue a new copy then sell off your old copies at a reduced price to get rid of them, but this takes work and effort and may flood your market just before you issue a new version. This is why you should only order books if you have a ready-made outlet, otherwise they should be ordered via a retail outlet such as a bookshop or by Amazon and only printed on demand.

Expect to be busy but organised  when you are producing your book.

Expect to be busy but organised when you are producing your book.

Managing your time

The book production process can be demanding and hectic as you have a lot of fingers in your book pie and they all need to be organised and managed by you. Your editors and designers will be asking you for material and decisions and, be expecting answers quickly. This is why you need to be organised and efficient.

Make sure you are prepared for a busy period and keep everything running smoothly by making sure you are available at all times. Communicate clearly and regularly with everyone and make sure that any changes to the schedule are manageable for the whole team. You need to be there throughout so avoid going away on holiday or having any other major event going on at the same time.

Scheduling the process

The book production process is definitely stretchy meaning that you can spend months on it or get it done in weeks. I tend to allow 8-12 weeks to get a book through the publication process – maybe longer if there are both print and electronic versions. However, it can be done faster if you are organised, prepared to work hard and able to invest financially.

Nothing feels better than the moment you hold your finished book in your hand or see it live and ready for sale on Amazon. Click To Tweet

No matter how long it takes or the amount of effort you put in, the result is always worthwhile. If you have done your job well, nothing will feel better than the moment you hold your finished book in your hand or see it live and ready for sale on Amazon. That is a truly inspirational moment!

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About The Author

Deborah Taylor

Deborah Taylor is a book-writing coach and publishing consultant. Her goal is to make publishing easy, fast and fun so all entrepreneurs from coaches and consultants to therapists and trainers can get a book out there that will launch their business. Deborah has 15 years' publishing experience gained with blue-chip publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. She has extensive editorial experience working with a wide range of experts from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and careers consultants. Deborah's goal is to get your book published, and having achieved that with well over 100 books already, she is confident that she can help you publish yours too.

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