If you’ve ever wondered how books are published, especially if you’re thinking of writing and publishing a book for your Small Business, here’s a (slightly fictionalised but mostly accurate) glimpse behind the scenes.
A Monday at MHP.
9.00 am: Archie and Lik arrive late for the scheduling meeting. Again. But we let it slide. They only occasionally make a useful contribution anyway.
Anna (our Behind the Scenes Manager) and I go through each book on our whiteboard (usually about 8 to 12 projects). We look at what’s going on with each project right now, review the schedule, and discuss what the next step is to make sure we have the right people ready to go at the right time.
At any one time, we might have two or three books printing, two books with typesetters, a few books with the cover designer, three books being checked by authors, two books with an editor and one book with a proofreader. We also have these meetings on Thursday mornings, but in reality, the schedule changes almost daily.
9.25 am: I talk to our Senior Editor, Charlotte, and our Cover Designer, Peter, to discuss and confirm the schedule with them. Anna manages proofreaders and printers, so she updates them.
9.40 am: I check my email and an author has sent through some corrections to a book we’ve already started the layout on. I call the typesetter to let her know not to go any further until she hears from me.
The same author emails again a few minutes later and says don’t worry about it – she’s changed her mind. I call the typesetter back.
9.50 am: I settle in for some editing and Anna downloads the sales figures from the various book distribution services we use to start preparing the monthly sales reports for our authors. Archie and Lik are both asleep in the sun.
10.45 am: A delivery of books arrives from the printer. I chat to the driver, Jason, about what the Cleveland Cavaliers can do to beat the Warriors in the finals. Not much, we conclude.
Then, my favourite part of my job: I call the author to tell her the books have arrived, and they look awesome.
10.55 am: Our designer emails some cover concepts and gives me a call to discuss them. We agree on a few changes; then he re-sends them for me to pass onto the author.
11.30 am: I receive an edit back from an author. I have a really quick look over it to see how many changes she’s made, so that I know how long I’ll need to go through it, then reply to the author’s email and put the edit review in my calendar.
11.45 am: Cat and dog both still asleep.
12.27 pm: We have two quotes to prepare. I look through the manuscripts to assess the level of editing required and the complexity of the layout and then pass this information to Anna, who prepares the quotes.
1.30 pm: We have an author who was considering uploading her book to Amazon herself so that she could have direct access to it. After I explain to her what’s involved, she changes her mind and leaves it to us.
2.30 pm: Cat and dog both still asleep.
3.30 pm: I have a blog to write. I always write in two steps: coming up with an idea and mapping out the article, blog or whatever it is, and then writing. So it doesn’t take me long to complete the blog, which I then give to Anna to proofread.
4.37 pm: An author, who is due to submit his manuscript for editing in a few days, calls up to say he needs more time. I’ve already looked at it and I know it’s ready for editing, so we have a chat, and I convince him it’s time to hand it over. Authors often have a hard time letting go, but often extra days spent fiddling with the manuscript are not productive and are really just a form of procrastination.
So there you have it! A typical day in our little publishing business. Hopefully, this has helped you learn a little more about how books are published.