Peering over the Production Precipice

extinguished bluePhil: While the Nolan has been packing her life into boxes and moving into the 70s splendour of the new house, I’ve been slaving away doing a bit of publishing work which has taken me away from the job of submitting The Book to agents.

Editing a bookazine (it’s about trains so we will say no more about it here) has been an interesting and eye-opening experience. Compared to the one I wrote last year, I’ve had an awful lot more input on the project. Basically, it’s me, a designer, a proof-reader and the publisher.

All this has meant I’ve been brought face-to-face with the process taking words to a design that can be checked at the printers.

The main lesson learned is that everything takes a lot longer than I think it will. To be honest, I’ve always been hopelessly over-optimistic when working out how long it takes to do anything but this has hugely exceeded my plans.

The second is that you have to keep checking everything. I’ve examined every single page at least 3 times in addition to the initial writing and subsequent proof-reading. For 170 pages, that’s a lot of work. As an example, each of the 200+ photo captions seems to change at will. Not all of them at the same time but the odd one or two so you can’t relax.

Even on the final check, I came away with a list of 10 changes required.

Some of this is human error, ably assisted by the technology. Text previously fixed has reverted to faulty. Even the cover has been a problem, the first advertising poster design used an old version.

All has (crosses fingers) been fixed and the result looks fabulous. I’m certain that every other similar publication goes through the same pain too. I look at the magazine rack in WH Smith with a far better appreciation of the efforts behind each and every publication. OK, I’m not editing Vogue (yet) so no-one is going to make a film like The September Issue about me, but even on a small scale, the mechanics are pretty involved.

Which brings me back to The Book.

One option we are very seriously looking at is self-publishing. That’s going to see us taking control of the process of turning text on a screen into physical and electronic books. Having already dabbled in this and with the experience I now have, this is a much bigger hill to climb than it appears at first.

Newbies think, “You just press a button in Word and the book appears doesn’t it?”

No chance. Even from a little research I know that there are a bundle of e-book formats to content with. Physical books need the text flow checking to avoid pages with a couple of words on them at the end of a chapter. We are going to be very sick of reading our own story by the end of this.

Suddenly, the traditional route looks very appealing.

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4 Comments

Filed under Phil, Publishing

4 responses to “Peering over the Production Precipice

  1. I went through this process of transferring my designs to the printed article for 45 years. Although the technology helps nowadays it is still a complex process. When I started all the text came in galley form and you employed a Finished Artist or a ‘lick-and-stick’ man to produce final artwork as printers spreads stuck onto sheets of line board. Getting the artwork to the printers involved several people but with the change to desk top printing, as the designer, I now have to do everything so there is no opportunity to blame anyone else if things go wrong! I always get the client to sign off copies of the artwork before going to print and always get proofs produced before the final run as there is an opportunity (although expensive) to correct at the last minute.I went through this process of transferring my designs to the printed article for 45 years. Although the technology helps nowadays it is still a complex process. When I started all the text came in galley form and you employed a Finished Artist or a ‘lick-and-stick’ man to produce final artwork as printers spreads stuck onto sheets of line board. Getting the artwork to the printers involved several people but with the change to desk top printing, as the designer, I now have to do everything so there is no opportunity to blame anyone else if things go wrong! I always get the client to sign off copies of the artwork before going to print and always get proofs produced before the final run as there is an opportunity (although expensive) to correct at the last minute.
    If you need any help when you start your project, I will be glad to lend a helping hand.
    If you need any help when you start your project, I will be glad to lend a helping hand.

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