Now that so many authors have the option to self-publish their work, there is a perception that turning a word-processed manuscript into a printed book is a simple process. Professional publishing houses like Austin Macauley actually put each manuscript through a series of transformations to guarantee that it is both accurate and attractive to read, thus creating high-quality work worthy of a prime spot on any bookshelf.
The process starts with the author sending us a sample of the work they wish to submit. This is passed to our editorial department to assess: if they find it appealing and marketable, the author will then be asked to submit a copy of the complete manuscript. On receipt of this, the work is passed back to the board of editors for them to consider the text in its entirety. Many factors will be taken into account during this assessment period: not merely the content of the work itself, but also the freshness and originality of the approach and the suitability of the style. There will also be a consideration of the amount of editing needed to bring the work to a level necessary for publication; however, we do understand that the texts we receive are not necessarily perfect, and the work will be judged as much on its potential as on its achievement. Any editorial concerns the board have will be addressed during the production process.
At this stage the board now make two decisions: first, whether a contract should be offered to the author; and if so, which type of contractual agreement this should be. Contracts will then be sent to the successful authors. Once the author has decided to go ahead with publication and has returned a signed contract, all the details are passed to the production department to start work on the book. To ensure continuity, each successful author is assigned a particular production coordinator within the department.
We start with a raw manuscript. After the work has been scrutinised and reviewed by our board of editors, it needs to be formatted correctly. This stage varies in complexity from simple changes such as removing additional spaces to giving the book a particular look with the use of special fonts and layout styles. If there are any images or photographs in the text, relevant adjustments are made to ensure these are of a sufficient quality to be printed.
After the manuscript is formatted, it needs to be proofread. At this stage, the manuscript is thoroughly inspected by one of our proofreaders. This process, which should not be rushed, is designed to identify and correct any factual errors, embarrassing typos or grammatical mishaps. Additionally, major editorial suggestions will be referred back to the author. Once the edits and any amendments are finalised by the author with their production coordinator, the book is then prepared for printing.
Authors are often unaware of the wide range of options available for their published book, including book size, the paper used for the text and extra colour printing. Our expert production team know the advantages and disadvantages of all these options, and will therefore be able to advise with any difficult decisions. These decisions are vital to ensure that each book is priced appropriately and is printed with an enviable, professional finish.
Meanwhile, our graphics team will be designing an eye-catching book cover for the manuscript. One of the most important elements to a published book, the cover design goes through many changes and drafts in its journey towards its final form. To start, designers discuss with their authors an overall plan that would fit best with the genre of their book: for instance, which part of the manuscript would work best as the subject of the cover and which artistic style would be most appropriate. The designers can then produce a first draft – where the author’s initial impressions can be noted and any further ideas can be added. Using all of this, the final piece can be constructed to the highest possible standard. This is then passed to the marketing team for their feedback before final approval is sought from the author. At this stage production and marketing, in consultation with the author, will collaborate to create an eye-catching and inviting text for the back cover (the so-called ‘blurb’).
If the book also requires illustrations throughout – in the case of a children’s story or a graphic novel, for example – the graphics department liaises closely with each author to discuss their expectations. Designs can range from traditional line drawings to complex and colourful digital art. As with the cover design, authors have the opportunity to make suggestions regarding illustrative style.
At the end of the production process the book has become a fully edited manuscript with a professionally designed book cover. These are sent with strict instructions to our printers, who print and bind the first print run of the book. At this stage the manuscript will also be converted into a number of eBook formats, including Amazon’s Kindle.
In comparison with submission and production, marketing is a much more open-ended process and can involve a wide variety of approaches, any combination of which may be used to promote a particular book.
This process begins prior to a book’s publication with an internal strategy meeting in the marketing department. Having analysed not only the book’s unique qualities but also the features it shares with works in similar genres, we identify the sales techniques most likely to prove effective and from this formulate a comprehensive but flexible marketing plan tailor-made for this title. Even after the book is published we continue to meet regularly in order to discuss its progress, adjusting the techniques we employ based on its sales and researching the latest forms of promotion, which may offer new and innovative approaches. For instance, our large network of book bloggers and reviewers are a vital part of building recognition in the weeks leading up to and following a book’s release. We select the most appropriate reviewers for the book’s genre and content to encourage high response rates and boost online awareness.
Well before the book is published, it has been registered with the UK’s national book database Nielsen. It is also already available to pre-order on Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Blackwells, Foyles and all other familiar high-street booksellers, via our extensive distribution network. Over the years we have fostered excellent personal relationships with national and international book buyers at these organisations and at many independent bookshops: these relationships give us a clear advantage in placing our books within individual stores. We also have an impressive list of global contacts across all forms of media and within book-buying institutions such as libraries and universities.
On publication, the author is assigned a dedicated marketing coordinator who will guide them through the complexities of the marketing process and be on hand for any questions they may have. We are keen to involve the author as much as possible in promoting their book. This is particularly the case at the local level, where we get in touch with bookshops, libraries, newspapers, magazines and radio stations close to the author’s location, organising news stories, interviews and events such as book signings. In parallel with this local approach, we embark on a national marketing campaign to publicise the book, exploring every avenue possible to give the author the best chance of success. We are also active in promoting and making our books available across the world, in particular North America, Australasia and Europe, through our specialist international marketing team.
Where marketing is concerned, the sky’s the limit: your work could even end up being made into a film, and all from one raw manuscript!
Royalties are earned from book sales and are paid to authors every six months to allow the collection of accurate and sufficient sales data. Besides receiving a well-earned recompense from their work, writers receive an itemised statement detailing the number of copies sold and the stockists from which copies were purchased.