Publishing: The Process Of Publishing

There are all kinds of publishers. Most deal in hard copy or electronic publishing via the Web. Anything printed and disseminated can be described as a publication - a simple flyer or handout, a 500,000-copy-a-month magazine, a scholarly journal, an e-zine, a paper, a book. Anyone who engages in any of these activities might describe themselves as a publisher.

The processes in publishing vary for the type of media being published. A daily newspaper is usually a 12 hour process of intense planning, writing, coordinating and printing. A book is generally a much longer process. The following example outlines the many stages of publishing a book.




After a manuscript is submitted the publisher checks the text and references are complete, logs incoming permissions releases, and contacts the author with questions. A "cast-off," is also performed whereby a chapter-by-chapter tally of the manuscript estimates the length and complexity of each of the components (e.g., text, lists, figures, tables, photos, references) that make up the book's interior.

Now the production process begins in earnest. The first step is the launch meeting: The individuals who will be involved in editing, producing, and marketing the book meet to discuss the manuscript, set a schedule for its production, and make formatting and pricing decisions. This meeting gives members of each department the opportunity to learn about the book, ask questions, and outline how production and marketing efforts will proceed.

At the end of the launch meeting, an acquisitions editor formally passes the manuscript to a book production editor who will work closely with the author during the next several months. He or she is responsible for overseeing the book's copyediting and production and keeping the author apprised of deadlines so that the book prints by its projected publication date.


The book production editor begins editing the manuscript online with disks provided after he or she has thoroughly reviewed the hard copy. (It's very important that the hard copy and the copy on disk match.) He or she edits the manuscript for spelling, punctuation, grammar, clarity, consistency, and so forth, making sure to query the author along the way if questions arise.

After the book production editor has finished copy editing, he or she will send the author a hard copy of the manuscript for them to closely review. (Additions will be in boldface, and deletions struck through.) The author is instructed to carefully respond to all queries and suggestions. Because making substantial changes to the text after typesetting is costly, authors and editors should take this opportunity to make all necessary changes.

If more than one author wishes to review the copy edited manuscript, they must coordinate their changes and responses to queries so that all are marked in ink and only one hard copy is returned.

Each lead chapter author will receive a hard copy of his or her chapter to review; in rare cases the lead volume editor will simultaneously review the chapters. Chapter authors and editors should coordinate their changes and answers to queries so that they appear together in ink on one hard copy.

After the author(s) have reviewed the copy edited manuscript, the book production editor incorporates the changes and prepares the electronic files for the typesetter.


While the author reviews the copy edited manuscript, the graphic designer oversees the design of the book's interior pages. During the design process, the content, audience, and reading level of your book as well as its trim size, binding, and the complexity of its elements (e.g., sidebars, wrapped text, figures, tables, photographs) are all carefully considered.

Once a design is created that maximizes the readability and sales potential of the book, the typesetter creates sample "dummy" pages of the design. The author will have an opportunity to review these samples before the complete manuscript is sent to the typesetter. (Often the text used in the sample pages is not from the book — they are merely samples for design purposes only!)

Early in the production process, the publishing team begin the collaborative task of designing the book's cover. Covers should be both visually enticing and appropriate for a book's content and audience.

The author will have the opportunity to provide input on the design and to review a cover sample and back cover copy. Once the design has been finalised, the cover files are prepared for the printer. Often the approved cover design is used for marketing purposes even before the book has been published.



Page proofs are the unbound print-outs of the book as laid out by a professional typesetter. Depending on a book's schedule, the lead author or editor will be asked to carefully review one or more sets of page proofs before the book is printed.

Essentially, the final review of page proofs is what you will become the printed book. At this stage, all major changes have already been incorporated into the text, and new changes are kept to a minimum. The author will be asked to double-check the following during your review

· running heads

· tables and figures

· references

· misspellings

· final queries


Lead chapter authors are expected to review page proofs carefully and answer any final queries as completely as possible. Lead volume editors will have the opportunity to review each chapter at a later proof review stage.

A professional proof reader simultaneously reviews the proofs. Once the book production editor receives changes from the author and the proof reader, he or she carefully reviews the proofs again. The typesetter then incorporates all of the changes into the text and rushes final "confirming" proofs to the book production editor. Once the book production editor confirms that every change has indeed been incorporated, the book's files are sent to the printer.

Careful and extensive proof review processes ensures that each book is of excellent quality before it is printed and bound.


The front matter of a book comprises the copyright page, the title pages, and the table of contents, plus optional items such as acknowledgements and dedication pages, author bios and affiliations, a preface, and a foreword.

Front matter proofs deserve special mention because the lead author or editor is typically the only author with the responsibility of checking them. An accurate copyright page is critical because it must contain all required disclaimers and credit lines for photographs and other copyrighted material. All author names, addresses, and affiliations should be carefully checked for accuracy and spelling as well.

During the production process, contributing authors will receive Contributor Information Sheets asking for the names, affiliations, and mailing addresses they would like listed in the front matter. The lead volume editor should carefully double-check this information when reviewing proofs.


While an author is reviewing proofs, the book production editor provides another set of proofs to a professional indexer. After the indexer completes the index and the book production editor has carefully reviewed it, the lead author or editor of the book will have the opportunity to review it as well.

The author or editor has the responsibility of checking the index for clarity and accuracy (though not whether each entry matches up with its page number references). It is important that every necessary change is made at this stage to avoid costly changes once the index has been typeset.


Once the book production editor confirms that all changes have been incorporated into the text, the typesetter finalizes the book's electronic files, which are then sent to the printer. The printer makes the film from which a book will be printed directly from these electronic files.

After the film has been made, the printer sends a full set of blueline proofs to the book production editor. Bluelines are proofs of the page negatives — actual representations of each printed page of your book created by holding special light-sensitive paper up to the film. (Everything that will print turns blue, hence the term "bluelines.")

Immediately upon receiving the blue-lines, the book production editor reviews them to ensure that no errors have been introduced during the printing process. He or she also checks imposition at this stage, as this is the first time the publishing team will see the book's full interior spreads. Once the book production editor returns the bluelines to the printer (typically within 48 hours), the actual printing and binding process commences.

And a few weeks later . . . bound copies of the book are shipped to the warehouse! The book production editor will generally send the author advance copies as soon as they arrive.





While most printing facilities utilise primarily one process or type of printing press, it is not uncommon to see multiple processes or types of printing presses at a printing facility. For example a newspaper publishing company may be utilising both offset lithographic printing presses as well as flexographic printing presses. At many smaller printing facilities which print a variety of products such as business cards, stationary, advertisements, etc. it is not uncommon to find both offset lithographic printing presses as well as letterpress printing.

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