Friday, January 08, 2010

Debra - Why does it take so long to publish a book ?

I was busy working in LOOW (explained later) when my reminder for blogging popped up.

I like reminders. I like lists. I like organization. I like beating chaos into submission.

Because we have offices in more than one state, our seamless dance of communication was often more like ballet dancers performing in crocs. To keep us on track as we’ve grown, we have “The LOOW.” (List Of Organized Wonder)

Seriously. That’s what we call it.

LOOW is a fairly complex online “shared” spreadsheet that tracks everything in process at our publishing company (Bell Bridge Books/ BelleBooks). We know every task that needs to be done for a book, if it’s been done, who’s doing it. We can track by date or book or responsible party. We can all work in the spreadsheet at the same time, adding information, updating status, etc. If I want to know what ads we have placed? Go to LOOW. If I want to look at the Publishing Schedule? Go to LOOW.

If my assistant is working from home because of ice and snow? Go to LOOW instead of a file cabinet or our “real” publishing software.

I thought you might be interested in seeing how a book goes from “bought” to “published.” Every publisher has a different rhythm, a different internal lingo. (i.e. LOOW) One item below might actually be 3 or 4 tasks rolled into one. For instance, “Manuscript Accepted” seems easy enough, but first you have to edit the book and provide the author with revision guidance if needed. That’s not quick. That’s hours and hours of work. Then you have to review the book when it’s returned, sometimes do another quick revision pass, review the book again, notify the author and accounting that the book is accepted.

The list changes slightly for every book, new routines or sales channels get added and have to be managed, but in general this is how we push a book out the door and “publish.” Enjoy! I hope.

Copy of Deal Memo to Legal/Acctg Editor
Issue Contract Office
Contract Returned Office
Author set-up Paradox/Peachtree Office
Title set-up in Paradox/WIP/contracts Office
On Signing Advance Issued Office
Manuscript Due Date Editor
On Acceptance Advance Issued Office
Review permissions/legal issues Group
Manuscript Accepted Editor
Early MAJOR Reviews Marketing
Initial Pricing Discussion Group
Assign ISBN Office
Book put into Production - Paradox Office
Line Edit Due Editor
Cover tag or quote Editor
Review Pub Date Group
Cover Concept (trim size?) Art
Early Annotation of Title Group
Book Any Advertising (calendar date mechanical due) Marketing
Copy Edit Due Editor
Scribd Excerpt Upload Production
Design Galley Cover Marketing
Dedication/Acknowledge/Back Matter Editor
Wash Manuscript Production
Preliminary print resolution cover Art
Galley Production Editor
Final pricing discussion Group
Set up early review copies - Library Thing, etc. Marketing
Back Cover Copy Editor
Author bio (long & short) plus pic Editor
Video Trailer Begun Marketing
Schedule Author to Blog Office
Final Front & Back Cover (recheck trim) Art
Add cover if book "early annotation" Art
Final Marketing Sizes of Cover Art
Fictionwise Cover to Production Art
Interior Book Design Production
Page Proofs to Author/Proofer Editor
Set book up with printer Office
Web Site Update for Title/Author Office
Video Trailer posted to YouTube Marketing
Audio Book upload Group
Page Proofs Returned Editor
Send Print Review Galleys Marketing
Install Corrections Editor
Interior Final Print PDF Production
Offer e-galleys to Bloggers & Reviewers Marketing
Pull Spine and assemble Full Cover (recheck spine) Art
Recheck Paradox Retail Price Office
Upload files to printer Art
Fictionwise Upload Production
Place Initial stocking Order (+ author + promo) Office
Mobi file to Office Production
Files to Archive: Fictionwise RTF, Base Word file Production
Standard Subrights Submissions Editor
Buy all Fictionwise editions Office
Newsletter article to DD Editor
Subrights submissions Editor
Tweet Availability Marketing
Social Media Marketing
Confirm Amazon/BN, wholesaler, etc. upload Office
Kindle file submission Office
Scribd Full Book Upload Production
Ship Author Copies Office
Ship Promo Stock Office
Copyright Filing Office
On Publication Advance Issued Office
Author blog uploaded Office
Upload Archive Materials to File Storage Site Office


Cindy Gerard said...

Wow, Deb. This is fascinating stuff. i get most of it but have a question.
For $600, what is: Paradox/Peachtree?

And do you, the publisher, produce book trailers for all of your books?
If so - wow! nice perk for the authors.
Thanks for sharing. It really is fascinating

Michele Hauf said...

Very interesting.! Thanks for posting that, Deb. And here we authors thought WE did all the hard work. :-)

Helen Brenna said...

LOL, Michele. It is amazing, Deb.

How many books per year is BelleBooks releasing?

Kathleen Eagle said...

OMG. I could never do what you do, Deb. You are a wonder.

But I know I do better when I keep lists and pay attention to the calendar. But, oh, that calendar.

This is me talking to myself:
One calendar, Kathleen. Write everything down on ONE calendar.

You're one person. One calendar. When it's full, you're booked.

And so it goes. I do love to check things off when they're finished. Done and done. That's all the reward I need. My goal is to put more reminder systems into play. Is that a good idea. Because...I forget sometimes. "Why don't you use your cell phone reminder?" says my techie son. "Use your computer system," says my daughter.

Bottom line, if I don't do it when I'm reminded--often the old fashioned (inefficient?) way by association with something I see or hear that reminds me--I'm usually sorry later.

This is why I can't add stuff like Tweeter or Facefriends to my plate. They'll gobble me up!

Kathleen Eagle said...

So I lost most of the cute little banter between me and myself by using <> which apparently means something to Blogger that I didn't know about. See what I mean? I'm about half educated, and the half I'm missing must be key these days.

Cindy Gerard said...

Oh Man, Kathy. I'm sooo with you on this!!

Debra Dixon said...


Yep. We try to do trailers for every book. You can go to YouTube and type in Bell Bridge Books. Then click on the maker- Deb Smith to get a full list of our trailers. We give them to the authors and use them on our website, post on Scribd, etc.

As for the $600 question...

Paradox is the base program for our custome designed sales, inventory, and royalty system. It can also handle the project management for book publishing but since we work out of so many offices, I devised the LOOW so that everyone could have access. (Remember in my "old" real life I did business consulting and custom software design.)

Peachtree is our financial software that works with our custome software.

Debra Dixon said...

Michele-- I think authors have a VERY hard job. Because I've written for NY publishers, I'm in a unique position to appreciate just how hard authors work and how many times they might have to look at the $#@! book.

Debra Dixon said...


I've been screaming about the publishing schedule for a while now.

We've got about 25 titles on deck if everything is delivered on time, which may not happen. Some are reprints and require very little editing.

Some are books that we began editing last year and have done a couple of round of revisions before we bought the book to schedule for this year.

One book we got when it was released by one of the big publishers because they postponed past the contract date and the author yanked it.

About 2 books a month is about all we can handle and still do "the job."

Debra Dixon said...


I'm writing that down.


Anonymous said...

I'm exhausted just reading the list. Must go nap. LOL

GunDiva said...

I agree with ArkansasCyndi - I'm exhausted just reading the list. It's amazing anything gets published with a to-do list like that. Wow!

Debra Dixon said...

Cyndi and GunDiva--

Don't forget that we have a team behind every book, so that helps. It's not just me! Except for the books I edit when I'm wearing a lot of hats! That's a significant bump in my workload so I have to love and adore those authors and books.

And in publishing the book never goes away. On "the really big list of things I do" getting the book out the door is just item # 1. Then we kick into title management. (g)

Meg said...

Call me clueless...
Thanks for letting us have a glimpse into your world.

Betina Krahn said...

Wow. I'm humbled. Deb, I knew there were lots of steps. . . just glimpsed the complexity at times. But, I only had a small piece of the action.

Thanks for such a great blog!

Debra Dixon said...

Meg-- Like everyone's world, it's complicated until you're in it and then it's much less impressive. Like seeing the man behind the curtain. LOL!

Debra Dixon said...

Betina-- Oddly, we'd like to add more support and hoops for the books we publish! (g)

Keri Ford said...

*whistles* wow what a list!

Debra Dixon said...

Keri- I know! And almost everything on that list has a deadline!

Kathryn Magendie said...

I know how hard BB's works, but even I didn't know about that loonnnnnng list...WoW! Well, the experience has been a positive one for me - proud to be a BB author!