A First-Time Author’s Guide to the Production Process

The following is a guest post by Managing Editor Andy Ambraziejus on what to expect when you’re expecting a bound book, or what happens when your manuscript goes to the AMACOM Production Department.

Your editor has accepted your manuscript for publication and transferred it over to the production department. What can you expect over the course of the next few months before publication?

— The Associate Editor—Your Main Contact. Your manuscript will be assigned to an associate editor. The associate editor is your main contact during this time. He or she will be overseeing all aspects of the production process, watching the schedule, coordinating freelancers (copyeditors, proofreaders, designers, indexers), and making sure everything gets done in a timely manner.

The associate editor will also give the author a general sense of schedule, which will be finalized when the copyedited files are sent to the compositor (see below). A note about schedules; the schedules mentioned below are considered normal. Each stage can be completed much more quickly, or take longer, depending on various circumstances.

— Manuscript Evaluation.
The associate editor checks to make sure the manuscript files are complete, including all art (charts, graphs, illustrations). Occasionally, because of time constraints, we allow a missing part of the manuscript, such as a foreword, to come later.

Copyeditor Queries— Copyediting. The manuscript files will be sent to a copyeditor. Copyeditors are the people who “dot the I’s and cross the T’s.” They make sure grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct, watch for consistency, and query the author if anything seems incorrect or unclear.

An important point to remember: Copyeditors never want to change what the author wants to say—their job is to make what the author wants to say as clear and succinct as possible. On a regular schedule, this takes a few weeks.

— Author Queries.
After copyediting the files are sent back to the author to answer the copyeditor’s queries, add anything that might have been missing from the manuscript previously, and do a quick, final check before the manuscript goes to composition. The author is asked to return the files with queries answered within a week or two, depending on the schedule.

— Design. While copyediting is being done, the associate editor is working with designers and compositors to come up with an appropriate design for the book. Various considerations come into play: the length of book announced in the catalog, the overall size (i.e., known as the trim size—6 x 9 inches, 8-1/2 x 11 inches, etc.), the kind of art, if any, as well as the subject matter and the market for the book.

Compositor Order Specs— Composition and Pake Makeup. Once the associate editor has received the final copyedited files with all queries answered and prepared them for the compositor and the design has been set, the files are sent to a compositor. The compositor confirms the final schedule, and within a few weeks, the compositor produces proofs.

— Proofreading. Both the author and a proofreader are sent PDF files of the proofs. The corrections need to be returned to the associate editor within a week or two. The associate editor collates both the author’s and proofreader’s corrections, resolves the proofreader’s queries with the author, and transmits the corrections back to the compositor.

There are a few more stages of proof that only the associate editor sees, always checking that the corrections from the previous pass have been made correctly.

— Indexing. During this time, the proofs have also been sent to an indexer, who is busy compiling the index.

— Final Files. Once the associate editor feels confident that all the bits and pieces have been completed satisfactorily, he or she asks the compositor for final files, which are then sent to the printer.

— Electronic Files & EBooks. AMACOM keeps an archive of electronic files. The PDF files in this archive are sent to a conversion house, which converts the files to necessary specifications and sends them to various vendors to be sold as eBooks.

Upon signing a short agreement, the author can also request a copy of the files, small portions of which can be put on the author’s website to publicize the book.

— Bound Books. Bound books appear a few weeks after the files have been sent to the printer. Marketing and publicity have already started, but now they shift into high gear to get the word out about the book about to be published.

Andy Ambraziejus is AMACOM’s Managing Editor, responsible for scheduling, developing electronic initiatives, hiring freelancers, and working with the Associate Editors to get the books copyedited, proofread, index, and designed. He previously worked in the Random House Reference division, which published dictionaries and various other titles, Macmillan Reference, and William Morrow and Company, which published trade books. For inquires regarding freelance copyediting, proofreading and indexing, visit our website.


One response to “A First-Time Author’s Guide to the Production Process

  1. Pingback: Introducing AMACOM… Erika | AMACOM Books Blog

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