Publishing FAQs: The Production Process

The production stage is an exciting time in the publishing process, as a manuscript begins its journey from Word document to printed book. However, there is a lot of work to do before the book is ready for publication! In this post Sarah answers some of the most common questions she gets asked during the production process.

Sarah hard at work checking proofs

Will my manuscript be copy-edited and proofread?

Yes, we ensure that every manuscript we publish is copy-edited. We will ask authors to proofread their typeset proofs but I will also be checking them throughout the production process.

Will I get to choose my own cover design and image?

If your book is being published in one of our series (most will be) there will be a series design to adhere to. We are very happy to take on board authors’ preferences re a cover image (if the series design includes one) and background colour. Check out our blog post on book cover FAQs for more information.

How long does the production process take?

From sending the final manuscript for copy-editing and typesetting to the arrival of a printed book usually takes around 5-6 months. This can be done more quickly but for marketing purposes it is better to get advance information (ISBNs, prices, ToC) out 6 months ahead of publication. We also like to have enough time to ensure we are publishing a high-quality volume and not rush things out in a very short time.

Do I need to adhere to a specific style/layout in my manuscript?

We provide guidelines for authors but we are flexible in terms of manuscript layout and font. We are currently working on a requested stylesheet for book editors to send to their chapter authors.

Do you follow APA referencing guidelines?

No, our reference style most closely resembles the Harvard referencing style.

How should I send my figures/photographs?

If you have a lot of photographs to submit with your manuscript it’s best to submit these separately as tiff files (jpegs are also acceptable). If possible they should be minimum 300dpi.

Can I add/change things after my manuscript has been finalised and the production process has begun?

We would strongly discourage changing large parts of your manuscript once we have sent the final version to the copy-editor/typesetter. You will have a chance to proofread the typeset pdf and make changes (we would expect these to be mostly minor at this stage) at the initial proofing stage.

When can I expect initial proofs?

We ask our copy-editing/typesetting suppliers to return the pdf proofs to us 6 weeks from their receipt of the manuscript. This deadline can depend on how fast authors respond to any copy-editing queries which the suppliers send to them directly.

How should I return my proof corrections?

Most authors email a list of corrections which I will transfer to the proofs while I am checking them. Increasing numbers of authors are supplying corrections made directly to the pdf. We are also happy to accept hard copy corrections through the post!

When should I start my index?

It is best to start the index at revised proof stage (i.e. once the initial corrections have been made) so pagination is unlikely to change.

How long does a book take to be printed?

We ask our printers to send the printed book to us 3 weeks after they’ve received the final proofs/cover from us. We do not announce publication until the printed books have been checked in-house and delivered and booked in at our UK distributor.

The Ebooks page on our website

Will my book also be available as an ebook?

Yes! We publish all our titles as library pdfs, and in Epub and Kindle formats. Please see the Ebooks page on our website for more information on where they can be purchased.

Will I receive complimentary copies of my book?

Yes, authors and editors of books will receive printed copies of their books (if you’re in doubt about how many, please consult your contract or contact your commissioning editor). For edited books, each contributor will receive either an e-version of the book or a printed copy.

Sarah

Behind the Scenes… What Happens to an Accepted Manuscript?

Once a manuscript has undergone external peer review, been suitably revised by the author and is approved for publication by the series editors (where relevant), it is accepted for publication. We then ask the author to complete an author questionnaire and checklist and start to get the manuscript moving towards production. But what are we doing exactly? In this post, Laura outlines the small but vital stages between editorial and production.

Commissioning Editors with books from their respective series

The first thing a Commissioning Editor does is book a slot on our production schedule. Each month we publish a certain number of books, typically between 4 and 6, so there are a limited number of places available. The Commissioning Editor will most likely have already provisionally pencilled in the manuscript well in advance of it being accepted, using their knowledge about the extent of the revisions required and how busy the author and series editors’ schedules are. But it is only now that a publication date is set and finalised. At this point it is therefore extremely helpful to us if authors keep to deadlines they have promised!

Once the Commissioning Editor has received all the final files and supporting documents, they will check through the manuscript one last time. They ensure that the author has submitted all the documents (table of contents, each chapter, references, appendices etc) and confirm that permission has been cleared for all material from external sources. They will then update the book’s proposal P&L with the latest word count, as we use this to estimate the pagination and price.

The book is then ready for the Commissioning Editor to schedule for discussion at the next in-house editorial meeting, usually held weekly. For those of us not involved in the book until this stage, this might be the first we’ve heard of it since the proposal was accepted, often some years previously! At the meeting we discuss and approve the title; make a final decision about the format (whether it will be published in paperback and hardback simultaneously) and approximate the print run.

With all of the above finalised, the Commissioning Editor is now ready to hand the book over for production and marketing. In order to make the handover process a smooth one and to help impart as much of their knowledge about the work to the rest of us as possible, they complete a handover sheet. The handover sheet splits naturally into three sections: key details about the work, then a production section, followed by marketing information.

The key details section is where we store absolute final information about the book, mainly what we decided on at the editorial meeting. It is where we look if we cannot remember whether we did decide to remove a comma from a title or exactly which subtitle we eventually chose! It is therefore like gold dust as it is vital that we are consistent, once we have made a decision: as soon as data starts to leave our database, it is sometime hard to find where it has gone and overwrite it.

Sarah, our Production Manager, hard at work

Next comes the production section where the Commissioning Editor will tell Sarah, our Production Manager, and Flo, who does the covers, information about the book. Sections include whether there is a preference for British or another variety of English; if the author already has a particular idea for the cover and if we have agreed anything special with the author, perhaps with regard to the layout or format. We also tell Sarah about what she might expect when working with the author. This includes things such as if one is taking the lead (in the case of multiple authors) or whether we know the author is about to go on leave. This is important as production runs to deadlines which are much firmer than those in editorial often are.

Finally comes the marketing parts of the handover. The Commissioning Editor writes the blurbs, suggests subject categories and says who to approach for cover endorsements. They will also advise the marketing department on the book’s highlights; note any geographical contexts featured in the book (which might be helpful for our local sales reps); list which of our other books it links with and state any other key selling points of the work. They will also let us know any bright ideas they have for any special, out-of-the-ordinary marketing!

We find that handing a manuscript over in this way works really well. Ultimately, the Commissioning Editor is the person in the office who knows most about the book and the more of their knowledge they can share with the rest of us, the more likely we are to have a smooth, enjoyable and successful publication.

Laura

The Life of a Book – Post-production!

Laura showing off some newly arrived books
Laura showing off some newly arrived books

Arguably the most exciting days in our office are the days when new books arrive. We love receiving such packages from the printer and having the final product in our hands, and we’re sure that our authors feel a sense of joy and achievement on receiving their copies. To some, this is seen as the end of a journey – the editorial and production work has been successfully completed and the job of publishing the work is done. But as a publisher, we’d be pretty useless if we saw this as the time to stop working with a book. In fact, for us in the marketing department, this is our moment to shine!

Elinor and I will have been busy in the run-up to publication setting things up ready for the book’s publication. This means that we will already have let all our distributors, wholesalers and sales reps know that the book is on its way; we will have ensured that the book has a complete listing on our website; and we will have provided the author with marketing materials, such as information sheets and discount flyers for them to give to any interested potential readers.

The ground has then been properly laid for us to start the immediate marketing of a book on publication. We announce that the work has been published to as many people as possible. We inform all industry members, such as wholesalers and sales reps, that the work is now available for their customers and try and reach as many customers as possible directly. This might be done by posting on listservs, such as Linguist List (Multilingual Matters titles) and Trinet (Channel View Publications titles), sending a newsletter to our email subscribers, sharing the news with our Facebook and Twitter followers and informing journal book reviews editors and authors of related blogs, for example.

All our new books are available simultaneously as print and ebooks, so there is also work to be done to get news of the ebook out. Sarah, our production manager, ensures that the book is available to purchase on a variety of platforms, and we ensure that it is also available on our own website. At this stage we also start to send out inspection/desk copies to those who have requested one from our website and we give the option of an ebook rather than a print copy. This means that course leaders get the text immediately and can start considering it for adoption on a course much quicker than the traditional way.

Anna and Tommi promoting our books at AAAL earlier this year
Anna and Tommi promoting our books at the AAAL conference earlier this year

Once the initial marketing has been completed and the buzz may have quietened down, we continue to publicise the work through other avenues. Common ways of doing so are through our catalogue mailings, and additional flyers and materials we produce for our sales reps, series editors and authors to distribute. We also attend many conferences throughout the year and always have lots of our recent and relevant titles with us on display. On occasions when we can’t attend an event in person we frequently send display copies and discount order forms to continue to make potential readers aware of our books.

When a book reaches 6 months old we review its progress at an editorial meeting. We look at the sales figures and discuss how its early sales are looking. This is a useful stage to review a title as it is still young enough to be of interest to booksellers and so we give a title a marketing boost if we feel that we may have missed an opportunity. This is the time when we start to see the very first reviews of a book appear in journals and these continue to appear over the course of the next few years.

On a book’s first birthday we again review its progress and might even start to think about reprinting copies of the work if it has been particularly successful. We monitor our stock levels each month so we try and ensure that we are on top of demand and that a book is always available, but occasionally we’ll receive an unexpected order, perhaps if it is suddenly adopted for a course and we receive a bulk order from a university bookshop preparing for the start of a semester.

Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series
Chinese translations of several books from our Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series

We continue to monitor sales annually and promote the book when appropriate for as long as there is demand for it – often for many years after publication. Occasionally a book will receive additional attention, such as from a foreign publisher wishing to buy the rights to translate it into a foreign language. This is a really exciting time and such news is always greeted enthusiastically both in our office and by an author who is usually chuffed to hear that their work is to be translated and published for a new audience. We have recently sold our books for publication into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu, Arabic, Korean, Macedonian and Greek. Of course at this point, the book gets a second lease of life and it’s down to the foreign publisher to repeat the life cycle of a book as outlined in this post!

Laura

Getting to know the Channel View team: Sarah

Sarah is our Production Manager and has been with the company for well over a decade. She is in charge of producing all our new books; this means that every author who publishes with us works together with Sarah at some point during the publication of their work, that’s quite a claim! People who work with Sarah may have noticed that she’s an early bird and is often the first into the office in the morning and busy replying to emails even before the rest of us are out of bed! In this post we’ll be getting to know our early riser better!

Aside from the lure of the office(!), is it the thought of breakfast, coffee or the sports news that will get you up early in the morning?

Definitely breakfast – cereal is always exciting (Frosties are currently my cereal of choice). I do love my Sky Sports News morning bulletin but it’s very dependent on the previous day’s results as to whether it gets me out of bed early!

Sarah at Wembley
Sarah at Wembley

Yum, I’m a cereal person too! So, are there any sports or clubs in particular that you listen out for on the sports news?

Huge football fan – Manchester United and Bristol City. United not playing amazingly well this season (or last!) but after 20-odd years of success I can’t really complain. At least Bristol City got promoted last season which is very exciting as the stadium is about 10 mins from my house so I was able to hear a lot of distant cheering last winter! I also love cricket but following England can be a bit of a downer – at least we can beat Scotland!

Yes, as a sports fan I guess you have to deal with mixed successes! You must have been to lots of sports grounds in the UK, but have you been to any stadia abroad, any particular highlight?

I’ve been to watch cricket in a few different places – Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa. Think my favourite ground has to be the MCG in Melbourne – just so big and a great atmosphere! But Newlands in Cape Town was pretty amazing too with the backdrop of Table Mountain. I’ve also been to Yankee Stadium in NY and saw the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in September.

Wow, you really are a well-travelled sports fan! When you’re not spectating sports, do you also like to play them, or what are your other favourite ways to spend your free time?

I’ve been playing ladies cricket for past few summers which I’m really enjoying – last summer I played for a men’s team which was a little scary but also a lot of fun – managed to get a few wickets and catches! Apart from doing the Bristol 10k every year with my lovely colleagues I have to confess to being a bit of a recliner-in-front-of-the-tv slob!

Good for you – show the men how it’s done! There’s nothing wrong with an evening in front of the television. Aside from watching sports (!), are there any programmes or series that you rate as “not to be missed”?

So true. I am a sappily huge fan of Downton Abbey – Scandal, Supernatural and Parks & Recreation among my other faves! I also have a cross-trainer next to my TV which I sometimes gaze at in contemplation of future exercise. One day it will happen.

Nice selection. Ok, now it’s time for the curveball final question! If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?!

Hmm, I’d have to go for super speed like The Flash – you could get all your work and household chores done in no time!

Good choice, I love that idea! Just a few more questions and then you’re done:

Ice cream or yogurt? Ice cream – always go for the unhealthy option!

Mountains or beach? Beach! I come from a seaside town so it has to be beach every time.

BBQ or picnic? Hmm, as I usually spend at least a couple of weeks in Australia every year I’ll have to go for the barbie option!! And they smell good.

Comedy or drama? This is tricky, probably lean more towards comedy in general.

Football or cricket? So tough! Football just shades it – I think I like cricket better in the cricket season but I know I love football the best when it returns!!

Facebook or Twitter? I have different answers for these depending on what kind of mood I’m in! Currently it would have to be Facebook.

Thanks Sarah. There’s still a few more posts about the team to come so keep an eye out for them!

From Word file to printer’s file: Copy-editing, typesetting, proofreading

There are many people who are part of the publication process other than the Channel View team themselves. Ralph Footring is one of these, providing key copyediting, typesetting and proofreading services for many of our books. In this post, he explains what his job involves and why his services are so important.

I am one of Channel View Publications’ suppliers. I take an author’s Word file for a book and give the publisher a file to hand over to the printer. In between, there is the copy-editing, dealing with author queries, setting up the book’s fonts and page layout, typesetting, sending out proofs, taking in corrections and doing some final checks.

Ralph at work
Ralph at work

Why not just send the author’s Word file to the printer? It can be done and is much cheaper, but it is difficult to get good-looking pages out of Word. Most authors set their files up for A4, which isn’t a good size for a book. And authors do make mistakes – spelling, grammar and some of a more general nature (the name of the guitarist and songwriter for The Who is Pete Townshend, with an ‘h’). I once worked for a publisher who used authors’ print-outs to produce short-run books that wouldn’t have been published at all otherwise. At first, they didn’t trouble to have anyone read through the typescript, but then they produced one too many books with a missing page. Once someone is turning over the pages to make sure they are all there, they might as well look to see if a diagram is there if one is referred to in the text. And does that diagram show what the text says it shows? And then you are slipping into copy-editing.

Needless to say, I think copy-editing is a vital part of the publishing process.

A couple of recent books that Ralph has worked on.
A couple of recent books that Ralph has worked on.

That sentence might set my stall out. Do I delete ‘Needless to say’ (it isn’t needless to say it) or the whole sentence (because it is needless)? But if it’s not my own text, what am I doing interfering with it all? And what about ‘set my stall out’? If a book is intended for a readership that will likely include a lot of people whose first language is not English, there would be a good argument to avoid such idioms, and it might be better phrased as ‘make my position clear’. And what about beginning a sentence with ‘And’? Perhaps with spelling we are on safer ground, but that leads on to a question of consistency. It seems undeniably better not to mix -ize spellings and -ise spellings (sometimes ‘recognize’, sometimes ‘recognise’), but what about ‘though’ and ‘although’? Is it really only cramping an author’s style to insist that only one is used throughout a text?  Most authors seem grateful to have someone read their work carefully, to check that the references are all there and that they haven’t made spelling mistakes and grammatical slips, and perhaps that what they have written makes sense, if it’s done respectfully and without undue interference.

Larger publishers tend to have rather rigid production processes, and it is hard to cross the boundaries between the editorial department (copy-editing) and the production department (design, typesetting, proofs). I like working for smaller publishers like Channel View Publications who can look at each book as an individual project.

My production process usually looks like this: copy-edit in Word, with ‘track changes’ on and author queries raised in ‘comment’ notes; send file to author for review of copy-editing and to answer queries; get file back from author, make any further changes (in response to queries and so on) and tidy it up; import the text file into the typesetting software (Adobe’s InDesign is pretty much the industry standard); place the text onto the page template and assign all the correct styles (chapter heading, sub-head, sub-sub-head, body text, and so on); produce proofs; take in corrections; produce the ‘press ready’ pdf file for the printer. The job satisfaction is in seeing it through from beginning to end. After many years, I still get a thrill opening a new book and thinking I’ve been part of the process.

For more information about Ralph and the services he offers please take a look at his website.

Frankfurt Book Fair 2013

Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands
Sarah, Laura and Tommi on the ferry to the Netherlands

For many people in the book trade, October is almost synonymous with the Frankfurt Book Fair and it is no different for Channel View/Multilingual Matters.  For us, the only change this year was that Tommi, Sarah and I decided that we would drive to the fair as we wanted to see some of Europe, rather than fly straight to Germany as usual.  On our way to Germany we visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium and had lunch in Luxembourg City before finally arriving in Boppard, a small town approximately 75 miles west of Frankfurt where we stayed a couple of nights.

The view towards the Moselle from our hike
The view towards the Moselle from our hike

We spent a day hiking in the hills between the Moselle and Rhine Valleys which was beautiful, especially as the trees were just beginning to change colour.  We walked about 12 miles and although Tommi had sensibly chosen paths that were mainly downhill (!) Sarah and I were still extremely tired afterwards – perhaps not the best preparation for a busy week of work!  It took a traditional German dinner, good night’s sleep and excellent breakfast before we’d recovered enough to drive across to Frankfurt where we met Elinor ready for the start of the book fair.

Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Laura, Elinor and Sarah having lunch at the Frankfurt Book Fair

The fair provides us with an annual opportunity to meet and discuss business with others working in the industry.  Tommi and Elinor meet with our sales reps who sell our books in less directly accessible markets, such as India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia and distributors and wholesalers who make sure that our books get to our customers, and that our customers know of our books.  Sarah meets with those involved in the production side of the industry, such as printers and typesetters, as well as an increasing number of people working on digital projects who she may collaborate with on ebooks and related matter.  Finally, I meet with representatives from foreign publishing houses who are interested in buying the translation rights to our titles for publication in languages other than English.

In between meetings we nibbled our usual selection of German snacks (we’re big fans of Rittersport and Gummi bears) and made the most of the sausages and schnitzel available for lunch!  We spent the evenings sampling yet more traditional German food and we enjoyed the annual drinks reception held by the Independent Publishers Guild, which we are members of.  As ever, we made the most of the opportunities that the fair offers us to meet colleagues from around the world; talk about what’s happening in the industry and discuss future projects and partnerships.  We have all made it safely back to the office and it won’t be long before it’s time to think about next year’s trip!

Laura

A Year at Channel View Publications

Today marks my first anniversary of joining the Channel View team. It’s not a big milestone yet (Anna and Sarah are inching their way towards an impressive decade with the company), but I thought it might be interesting to share with you a bit of what I’ve done this past year.

Having already spent 2 months on work experience here the summer before, there were no real surprises when I returned to the office, and it was good to hear about what everyone and the company had been up to in the past year. Part of what I do involves dealing with inspection copy requests, book orders, stock checks and queries in general, all of which I’d done before, so it was straight back into the swing of things for me. It was, however, a real test for me to dredge information on how to do things back up from the bottom of my brain: when I left after my work experience I never thought I’d see another of our books again, let alone be working with them!

Much of my time is spent doing marketing tasks for Elinor, such as informing wholesalers of our new titles; producing fliers and adverts and sending materials to conferences, and helping Sarah a bit with production, my favourite job being working with our designers to produce book covers. I also put books into production, so January was an exciting month as the first books that I’d worked on were published.

One of the things my friends are most envious about when I tell them about my job is certainly the travel to conferences. I feel very lucky to have already been to memorable conferences in Leeds (IALIC), New Orleans (TESOL) and Chicago (AAAL) and to have EUROSLA in Stockholm and the Frankfurt Book Fair coming up. As the vast majority of our work is done over email I love having these opportunities to meet our authors and customers and put a face to a name, as well as visiting new places.

Plant flourishing on my desk

Apart from my usual jobs, there’s often something out of the ordinary to do, be it meeting a wholesaler’s incredible warehouse robot; making our twitter-o-meter wall chart to track our ever increasing follower numbers or just tending to the office plants, one job I’m perhaps not so good at! My first year at Channel View has certainly been far from dull!

Laura

The fascinating world of the production manager

As production manager it’s my job to ensure that the production process goes smoothly for authors and that the book comes out looking lovely, error-free and on schedule! We aim to publish four books per month and outsourcing is key to enabling this to happen.

When a final manuscript is handed over by the commissioning editor I’ll go through it and depending on content I’ll decide on size and which supplier is best to send it to. The combined copyediting/typesetting suppliers we use have been working with us for a number of years and they’re very familiar with our style and way of working. They liaise with authors initially so it’s important to us that working with them is a positive experience for our authors.

Once the book is typeset, proofs are sent out to authors and the cover designing process can begin. It’s fun to collaborate with authors in finding images and making our books look as attractive as possible!

When I’ve received proof corrections from the author I go through the proofs carefully before sending it back to the typesetter. We usually go through a few more rounds of corrections to ensure the book is in the best shape possible before it’s finalised. Printing normally takes at least 3 weeks for hardback and paperback as we publish both formats at the same time. Overall, we like to have 6 months from submission of final manuscript to publication but realistically this is more like 4 months, depending on how full our publishing schedule is for the year.

Proof-checking in action!

As well as sending the final pdf to the printers we send them out to our ebook vendors.  As Tommi said in his sales post, we’ve been selling pdf ebooks to library platforms for the past 12 years. Going forward, new titles will also be available on the Kindle Store, the iBookstore and our website. Keeping up with the different formats and latest technologies is very important and we’re committed to making our titles available as ebooks as soon as possible after they’re finalised. The opportunities that ebooks present are very exciting and we’ll keep up-to-date with the latest developments and possibilities for our books and authors.

We look forward to working with our current authors and all our new authors to continue to produce print and ebooks of the highest quality and making it as an enjoyable process as possible!

Sarah Williams