In a Perfect World
In a perfect world, every author would have their entire manuscript—including all front matter, the main body, and back matter—completed before they submitted it to PPG to begin the publication process.
In a perfect world, they would also have scanned the shelves of bookstores ahead of time to know exactly what types of book cover/interior designs and fonts they prefer to use for their books, and they would have all these instructions (along with their back cover copy) ready ahead of time to send along with their manuscript. (This way, the back cover copy can be professionally copy edited along with the entire manuscript for consistency in style.)
Then authors would sit back and let the “polishing” process begin and watch their raw manuscripts take form as professional quality books. They would thoroughly enjoy the entire process and completely trust all the recommendations of the editors, designers, and proofreaders all along the way. Most importantly, they would trust themselves. They would trust that the book they have created is good enough as it is.
But this is far from a perfect world.
The Realities of Book Publishing
It never ceases to amaze me how many additional changes authors want to make to their books even after they’ve gone through the copy editing process. Copy editing is the very first step in the book publishing process. This is where the majority of text changes (movements, additions, deletions, etc.) are meant to take place. By the time the copy editing process is complete, the content itself should be complete for the most part. It should be where the author wants it.
Once the copy edit is complete, the raw edited manuscript and design instructions are given to the graphic designer to create the first draft of the actual book; and then a soft copy (.PDF) version of it goes back and forth between the designer and the author to tweak it here and there. There is a very good reason why PPG only allows for two author proofing rounds that include up to five structural changes to the cover and 50 typographical changes to the interior per round. (Additional charges apply to any additional proofing rounds ordered.) It’s because we know the nature of authors to pick and pick and pick at their own work … and we are saving them from themselves by limiting the amount of picking they can do. Otherwise, it would go on forever. That is the nature of the author … of every author, I’ve learned. (And I assure you I totally understand. Not only am I a book publisher. I’m also an author of three books that I picked at and picked at and picked at to the brink of insanity.)
As mentioned above, the purpose of this back and forth process between the author and graphic designer is to allow authors further opportunity to simply tweak (fine-tune) the content now that they can see it in actual book form. The time for major character changes and text block movements/additions/deletions was long gone with the copy editing process; and now the purpose is simply to catch those last minute spelling errors and punctuation issues that were missed beforehand.
From there, once those two author proofing rounds of the soft copy version of the book have been completed, a hard copy is ordered and sent to a professional proofreader for another once-over by yet another fresh set of eyes. If that proofreader notices anything else, those changes (which should be minimal by this stage) are completed and a final hard proof is sent to the author for final sign-off and approval.
It’s Good Enough. Trust It. Trust Yourself.
It’s an emotional process, this book publishing business. Authors’ emotions and insecurities can get the best of them throughout this process, and it can make them second-guess their own decisions all along the way. At PPG, we understand this; and our book publishing process was developed and perfected with this in mind after extensive discussions and experience dealing with authors, copy editors, designers, proofreaders, indexers, you name it. If there’s one piece of advice we want you to walk away with after reading this blog entry, it’s this: it’s good enough. Trust it. Trust yourself. (And, of course, we’re here to help. It’s what we do best. You can trust that, too.)
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