What happens when you finish writing your book? The publishing process

Most of the time, finishing your draft seems like such a faraway goal and when you finally make your way to that goal, you sigh in relief. Only, that is not where it ends. What comes after this? I’m sure some of you know, but I’m also sure they are a lot of others who do not. I thought it’d be interesting to take a look at the process that gets the actual book out to the reader.

There are two types of publishing—traditional and self-publishing. Today, we’ll look into the traditional method that is also known as commercial publishing. The process of publishing a book is long and may take months and sometimes a few years. A draft goes through various steps before it becomes accessible to readers.

So, the first step would be to get your work to the publisher. How do we do that? Since it is most likely that your work is written independent of the publisher, you will have to first submit a proposal to a literary agent or to the publisher directly. The latter is known as an unsolicited submission. Selected unsolicited submissions are placed in a slush pile where the publisher’s readers identify manuscripts of quality or potential revenue generating ones. These are than sent to the acquisitions editors who review them and forward their choices to the editorial staff.

At this point, it is definite that the publisher has accepted your manuscript. Once this happens, commissioning editors come in to discuss royalty rates and intellectual property rights. It is also at this point that the publisher and writer can talk about formats of publication that involve matters like what type of cover the book should have.

Although the process involves several distinct steps, they do not always happen one after another but rather coincidentally. When the manuscript is being edited, front cover designing and page layout are also underway. Sometimes, initial stages of marketing also begins. During the editing process, an author may be asked to rewrite some sections or make other small changes to improve the quality of the book. The editing staff copy edit the manuscript to fit the requirements of the market and may sometimes change the title and sub headings of a book. For non-fiction books, fact checkers are often employed.

The manuscript then moves into the design phase, where the typography and page layout are finalised. The design usually depends on the type of book and intended reader. For example, a children’s book would most probably require illustrations and drawings. Hence, depending on the book, the design and layout change.

All through this, the sales and marketing must still be working. They focus on building interest among the readers by various methods and try to gauge the reactions. This process greatly affects the distribution of the books. For example, if the feedback is great or rather better than expected, the number of copies being released may increase, or the publication may spread to other areas or countries. If the opposite happens and not much interest is shown, the publisher may decide to drop the publication of the book entirely in order to cut losses.

Once the editing and designing is done, the printing process begins. A first copy known as the pre-press proof is printed and send back to the publishers for a final check. This copy shows exactly what a book that would be distributed looks like and it gives the publisher an opportunity to make the final or last minute changes. After the printing and binding process, the book is now ready to be brought out to the public. This is the process of distribution. It’s basically making the book available for purchase and we know the various ways it happens. We get them in book-stores, online stores and other retailers.

And voila! You have your book in hand. Obviously this is a very summarised version of what happens. If you are curious about any thing involving the publication, please feel free to ask.

Have a nice day.


Christi 100px.png

About the Author

Christy is a student, part-time writer, and a full-time Wannabe. She devours books and binges shows.