Publishing imperfectly – why having a publishing standard matters

When I worked in publishing, we had to find a balance between the need to meet deadlines and the requirement to publish to a high standard. You notice I said “to a high standard”, not “perfect”. That’s because getting each book published was also of high importance (you don’t get far if you don’t get the book out into the market).

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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.

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Edit-Amend-Check

People often think I’m joking when I say the publication process takes about 12 weeks. “Why on earth does it take so long?” they ask. And there is a simple answer: because in publishing, you go through the edit-amend-check process time and time again until (hopefully) everything is correct, and you are as sure as you can be that the book is error-free (or as error-free as is humanly possible).

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The final stage in getting your book done

The final stage in getting your book done is often the hardest because it involves a technical process that can be difficult to understand, and because it can involve working with other people. This can quickly turn into a stumbling block that keeps you turning back to more revisions, and endless delaying unless you finally begin the publication process itself.

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A Brief Guide to the Publishing Process

Publishing is complex process with a lot of technical terms. To help you navigate the publishing process, I have written a brief guide to the key points in the publishing process. Starting with the manuscript, this little guide takes you through from the point where you, as an author, finish writing your book and begin the process of getting it edited and formatted for publication. Manuscript The book, as delivered by the author to the publisher (or editor), is called the manuscript, which roughly means ‘hand-written script’. Before the advent of typewriters and computers, books were often hand-written by the author. When authors began to deliver typed books, the ‘manuscript’ began to be referred to the ‘typescript’. However, in general, old habits die hard and publishers still refer to manuscripts rather than typescripts. Whatever form it comes in, the book that the author delivers to the publisher (or editor) is the finished book that is ready to go through the publication process. The first stage is copy-editing. Copy-editing Copy-editing, (sometimes referred to as line editing or content editing), is the first editorial stage the book goes through. Copy-editing is the process by which glitches in structure, spelling, heading levels and much more is made consistent and clear by the editor so the reader can concentrate on the information in the book rather than how it is delivered. The copy editor’s job is to polish the author’s work by checking details, establishing rules and styles, and adapting the structure (if necessary) so the book flows correctly and is easy for the reader to navigate and read. First page proofs When the editing has been done and the author’s amendments have been agreed and added to the manuscript, the book is sent to the designer so he or she can design the text. These days, the Word document is coded by the...

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Proof-reading – do you need it?

Proof-reading is one of those editorial jobs that you can definitely do yourself if you know what to do. That doesn’t mean it is an easy job for you to do yourself, but it is possible. Sometimes, publishing consultants suggest that you can use proof-reading as a substitute for editing, however, proof-reading is not editing and you will need to check with your proof-reader before you assume they will do the job of an editor while being hired (not to mention paid) as a proof-reader. What is proof-reading? Proof-reading is a detailed check of the text after it has been edited, formatted or designed. The proof-reader can do a number of jobs depending on the format of the book. If the book is for print or PDF, the proof-reader will check that the there are no spelling mistakes, that the style set by the editor has been applied throughout, that the headings are consistent in terms of capitalisation and that headings and other text styles are consistent in terms of font size and style. List styles will also be checked to avoid, for example, one bullet list having full-stops at the end of each line and another not. The proof-reader will also ‘fit’ the text to the page, ensuring that half-lines or single words do not run over from one page to another. They may also edit to remove single words at the end of paragraphs. Proof-readers and editors use a special set of short-hand marks that are understood by everyone in the publishing industry. They have been developed for speed, brevity and clarity. You don't need to use them all but some are worth learning as most pages are tight on space and the coding marks make it possible to record changes in an organised and neat way. If the book is to be published on Kindle...

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Editing – why, how much and when?

Editing – it divides publishing consultants – some think you need it, others don’t; some think you need a lot, others think you need a little – so how can you decide whether to hire an editor at all and if you do, how can you work out what kind of editor you need? First of all, you need to understand what editing is and what it isn’t. These days it is often confused with proof-reading because the consultants who don’t think you need an editor think that a proof-reader is more than enough.  In fact, proof-reading is an entirely different activity to copy editing and in this article, I plan to help you to distinguish one from another. If the distinction between copy-editing and proof-reading was not enough to contend with, you then have to work out what kind of copy-editing you need: line editing, content editing, editorial assessment…How can you possibly know what is the right kind of editing for you? A lot of the more confusing editorial descriptions come from America and have sprung up largely as a result of the emergence of self-publishing brought about by Print-on-Demand publishing and electronic publishing (specifically, on Amazon’s Kindle). This is because a self-published book does not go through the traditional commissioning process; there is no quality control. As with all activities, some of are good at them, and others are not. That means that the amount of editing a book needs is going to depend on the natural talent of the writer and the amount of work they have done on revising and polishing their book before they send it to an editor. My stance is that a book always needs to go to an editor, but I know that isn’t always possible and for some authors it is not desirable. There are tales...

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