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What are the stages of book printing?

How to Plan Your Book Printing and Publishing Project

The path to publishing a book can get complicated quickly. Here's a step-by-step guide to working your way through the publishing process, so you can be better prepared.

1. Write

Obvious? Sure. Without writing your book, you won't be able to proceed with your project. But it's easy to jump ahead and worry about other parts of the printing and publishing process before ever writing. Start by creating a Microsoft Word document and drafting your manuscript.

2. Edit

Once you're finished writing, you can move into the editing stage, where you ensure your manuscript is ready for publication—that it's worded clearly, conveys the message it's supposed to, and is free of typos.

Editing consists of more than just a proofread—it includes developmental editing (e.g., to improve the clarity and strength of your book's argument with nonfiction or the characterization and plot with fiction) and copyediting (e.g., to correct errors in sentence structure and word usage).

The right editor will make your book better. Hire one with experience editing the kind of book you're writing, and be sure they use Track Changes in Microsoft Word—Track Changes will make your editing process go smoother.

While your manuscript is being edited, resist the urge to make changes. If you make changes while your manuscript is with your editor, those changes won't be reflected in their copy. Wait until they're finished editing and have returned the file to you before making changes to your master file.

3. Choose a Publisher

Will it be you? A self-publishing services provider? If it's you, make sure you have a publisher name and imprint logo, then proceed through the rest of this list.

4. Buy Your ISBN and Barcode from Bowkers

Once you know your publisher name, you'll be able to purchase your block of 10 ISBNs (yes, even if you're only publishing one book) and register those ISBNs to your book title. Check out our resource on how to buy an ISBN for more information, including why you'll need a block of 10 ISBNs.

5. Register for Your LCCN

An LCCN, or Library of Congress Control Number, is a number that the Library of Congress assigns to titles it's likely to acquire. This number is placed on your copyright page.

Because the LCCN will be printed inside your book, it's important to register for one earlier rather than later. If you wait until you reach a further stage in the process to register for your LCCN, it could potentially hold up your printing and publishing timeline.

6. Lay Out the Interior

Once your manuscript has been finalized—your editor has made his or her edits and you've finished making the recommended revisions—you can move into the interior layout process. During this stage, your designer will be formatting your book so that it's ready for print (e.g., finalizing decisions concerning font, spacing, page headers, etc.).

At this time, you can finalize your copyright page with the ISBN, LCCN, and copyright year. While you won't copyright your work until after the files are complete, you can list the projected copyright year and the name of the individual or company that the copyright will be registered to.

Like with editing, when your book is being formatted, do not make any changes to your file, as these changes won't be reflected in the designer's file.

7. Design the Cover

In addition to your interior layout, the cover design is a necessary part of turning your manuscript into a book. Keep in mind that the spine width will be a rough estimate until you find a printer and receive an exact measurement (aspects affecting the spine width vary by printer).

Your back cover should include a barcode, a place for the retail price (you'll finalize this later), and imprint logo if you're distributing through traditional channels.

8. Register Your Copyright

Registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office helps you protect your book; it's a way to claim ownership.

9. Plan Your Marketing Efforts

Before you get into printing and distributing, you'll want to plan how to market your book. What type of marketing will you do? What kind of demand exists for your work? The answers to these questions will influence the number of books you print initially—which affects whether you need digital or offset printing.

10. Finalize the Retail Price

Once you know what your per-book printing cost will be, you'll be able to set a retail price that ensures you make a profit through the traditional distribution model. Check out our book distribution page for additional help calculating your royalties and profits.

After you set your retail price, you can finalize it on the back cover.

11. Print

By this step, you're getting close to publication—but you're not quite there yet. This is when the printer you've chosen will print books from your cover and interior files. Be sure to understand your printer's timeline, including the proofing process.

Don't forget to send a copy of your book to the Library of Congress to finalize the registration of your LCCN.

12. Distribute Your Book

After your books have been printed, you can move into distribution. Our book distribution page covers this process in detail, but the short version is that distribution gets your book in the hands of readers through a variety of third-party retailers and wholesalers.

13. Continue Marketing

While you should market your book leading up to distribution, once the book is available for purchase, it's time to ramp up your marketing efforts and execute the plan you created earlier.

It may seem like a lot, but putting together your publishing plan ahead of time will facilitate a smooth process. And if you need help with any part of the process, please feel free to reach out—we offer all these services individually.

If you’ve never written a book or published an article, the regular production of excellent quality published manuscripts can seem like a magic trick. How does a rough paper get transformed into a masterpiece that people want to buy and put on their bookshelves? The publishing process is surprisingly complex, and to the uninitiated, seems as mysterious as any black box. But in fact, it’s just like any process that creates the products around us. Let’s pull back the curtain and look at everything that goes into transforming an idea in a writer’s head to an influential book or article that you read in your classroom.

What are the Stages of Publishing?
Let’s begin with a quick look at the basic steps of the publishing process. What comes first in the publishing process? How long is the publishing process?

The publishing process comprises: 

  1. Acquisitions
  2. Editing
    1. Structural editing
    2. Content editing
    3. Technical editing
  3. Design and typesetting
  4. Proofreading
  5. Printing
  6. Sales
  7. Marketing
  8. Publicity

As you can see, publishing is actually a complex and multi-stage process, so you won’t be surprised to learn that it can take at least one year to complete. However, this time can be shortened if you have an existing relationship with a publisher or publishing company and some advance interest in your work. First-time authors will have a harder time making it through the first step, i.e, acquisitions, if they are relatively unknown. However, once you have successfully published and sold one book, the duration  of the publishing process will get shortened during your next project.

Preliminary Steps: Acquisition and Editing
The first steps of the publishing process are acquisition and editing. Acquisition can occur in different ways, but generally authors send either a draft of their manuscript or a proposal to multiple publishers. If a publisher is interested in your work, he or she will call a meeting with their acquisitions team to discuss its pros and cons. The acquisitions team isn’t just limited to editors. It includes people from sales, marketing, and publicity departments as well to evaluate how well your book will sell in the current market. If they like your proposal or your manuscript, they will offer you a contract. However, keep in mind that most major publishing houses won’t read an unsolicited manuscript. For this reason, many aspiring authors seek out publication support services or agents to help them shop their work to potential publishers.

Once you have drawn up a contract, either with the help of publication support services or on your own, and signed the contract, your book will begin its journey through the editing process. As shown above, the editing process can be broadly summarized in three steps: structural editing, content editing, and technical editing. Structural editing focuses on the way your manuscript is organized and whether it makes sense. The publishing house editors or in-house publication support services will make suggestions for big changes, which you will be asked to review and accept or reject. After everyone is happy with the way your manuscript is organized, the publishing process moves on to content editing. This reviews your book for factual accuracy as well as flow, transitions, wording, and so on. An aggressive content editor will revise your work to make sure the style is consistent and the content is impeccable.

It is important to recognize that your editors may make some suggestions that you find difficult to understand or accept based on their knowledge of the current publishing market. While you have some control over what to accept, in reality, your editor has a lot of power as soon as you sign your contract. Remember to be flexible and keep the market in mind. Once you have accepted the major changes, a technical editor will review your work to make sure it is free of grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Once you have reviewed and accepted the changes, this part of the publishing process is over.

Next Steps: Design, Typesetting, Printing, and Proofreading
Now the publisher or their in-house publication support services will work with you to make sure that your book looks presentable when printed. You will choose a cover design, a font, and someone will typeset the book for you so that it looks great. A test print will be made and then proofread to ensure there are no hidden errors that were not caught by the editing process. Once you have worked with the publisher to get a beautiful draft of your book in print, it is time to move on to the final steps of the publishing process.

Final Steps: Sales, Marketing, Publicity
Even the best-written books need marketing and publicity to make sure they end up in front of the readers who will be interested in them. Major publishers and publication support services engage in marketing and publicity of promising new books to ensure that sales are high, and your new book will be no exception. In today’s world, marketing can include a vast number of methods. Your book may be marketed via ads in newspapers or journals, but you might also be asked to market it on podcasts, through interviews, and among well-known authors to get your name and the book out there. The publication support services offered by your publishing team will also hype you as they work with their network of book distributors and convince them to acquire your book and sell it. Soon, your book will be printed and hit the shelves.

It is important to note that the steps for online journal publication are a bit different than those of book publishing. Online journals generally do their own publicity, sales, and marketing, and without a print version, design and typesetting are less involved processes as well. Most online journals offer publication support services. However, if you are submitting a manuscript for online journal publication, you might need to seek out publication support or research publication solutions that are specifically tailored to academics. Regardless of whether you are writing a book or an article, knowing the stages of the publishing process can help you know what to expect and ease your way through.

What are the stages of book printing?

The Stages of the Publishing Process


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