There’s a lot that goes into publishing a book. A lot more than you might think just from movies, TV, and your own intuition. By way of update as to the progress of The Certainty of Uncertainty, and to give you a little insight into how this all works, here’s how the book goes from an idea to something you hold in your hand.
The first stage is submitting a book proposal to a publisher (to those who accept direct outreach) or to an agent who can connect you to publishers that require such an intermediary. My publishers, Wipf & Stock, allow authors to submit a book proposal directly. Sometimes, the publisher will solicit proposals from authors they might like to work with. The proposal is a highly structured document outlining not just what the book is about, but what its appeal will be, what other books are already out there like it, and so on.
The second stage is entering into a contract between the author and the publisher. This sets the expectations for when the manuscript will be completed and any other obligations between author and publisher.
Books quote each other all the time, but in certain circumstances when “fair use” does not apply, explicit permission is required. This is the case when you’re using extensive quotations of prose, poetry or songs no matter how short the quotation, and illustrations, photos, diagrams, or charts. As of the writing of this post, most of the permissions have been obtained (including permission to use a Peanuts cartoon) with the exception of two translations Rumi poetry and the Tao. If those aren’t secured by the time that the manuscript is due, I’ll swap out those versions for versions that are in the public domain. [Update: by the time I submitted the manuscript, I had not heard back from these publishers and decided to use the public domain versions.]
✓4. Preparing the Final Manuscript
This stage can happen concurrently with with the permissions, and is in the case of The Certainty of Uncertainty. In this stage, the manuscript is formatted correctly. The style of citation and other usage (serial commas, use of punctuation, capitalization, etc.) is made to conform to the house style of the publisher. Tags are added into the manuscript to indicate to the typesetters where headings, bulleted lists, block quotes, tables, illustrations, and other features will be. All tables and illustrations have to be prepared to be appropriate to the manuscript and given names that will match the placement tags for those illustrations. The manuscript files themselves have to be named according to a certain format (00.schaefer.frontmatter.docx, 01.schaefer.chapters.docx, 02.schaefer.bibliography.docx, 03.schaefer.backmatter.docx). And then finally, all the manuscript files must be sent along with the illustrations, copies of all the permissions, a Manuscript Submission Questionnaire, and a Marketing Questionnaire. This stage is due April 30, 2018, although I’m hoping to have it done before that. [Update: the manuscript was submitted on April 23, 2018.]
✓5. Format Check
Once all the files are submitted to the publisher, they publisher will assess the files to make sure they conform to the formatting and house style guidelines. At this stage the book synopsis and author bio for the book’s cover will be copyedited. [Format check was completed at the beginning of May.]
Once the manuscript has passed the format check, it will be submitted to the editorial department for professional copyediting. [Update: the copyediting was completed July 10, 2018 and the files have been sent to the typesetter.]
Once the copyediting has been finished, the book will be typeset and the real fun begins.
- ✓First Pages. The typesetter generates a PDF of the first draft of the book, that will be sent to the author to proofread. During this time, the design of the book cover and the solicitation of endorsements will take place. [Update: the typeset proof was received from the publisher on July 26, 2018]
- ✓Author Proof. The author needs to carefully proofread the First Pages checking the book carefully using a proofing checklist and compiling a list of corrections for the typesetter. [Update: the Author Proof was submitted to the publisher on July 31, 2018]
- ✓Author Approval. The typesetter will incorporate the changes and send a revised version to the author. My task here is to confirm that the changes I noted have been made. This isn’t a chance to change anything else about the book—no new corrections, no second thoughts about that one paragraph in Chapter 3.
- ✓In-House Review. The PDF is given a final review by an in-house editor.
- ✓Final Pages. Any changes made by the in-house editor are incorporated into the Final Pages and a new PDF is generated. At this point the book is either sent into production or scheduled for indexing.
- ✓Indexing. If an index is deemed necessary, it will be done at this point in the typesetting process. Until the pages are set, after all, it makes no sense to index anything. The index will be incorporated into the Final Pages.
When the Final Pages are sent into production the initial print run begins. This will produce one in-house copy and author presentation copies. Once that’s done, the title becomes active and is set up for further print runs to supply distributors. At this point, the book is done and ready for ordering!
So there it is! Almost seven stages in and moving along! [Edit: All done!] [wp_progress_bar text=”Publication” pc=”100″]