The Book Army

Have you ever given thought to how many people put time and effort into making the books you enjoy? It’s a small army, really.

The author is obvious. Maybe our job is the hardest and most time-consuming, but we also get nearly all of the credit. There are our names, splashed across the covers.

But there are also editors. Before I submit a book to a publisher, a good friend who’s also an excellent pro editor goes through the complete manuscript twice. Of course she looks for grammar and punctuation errors, but that’s only part of it. She also makes sure the story makes sense, the characters stay in character, the facts are correct, and the entire prose flows smoothly.

Once the manuscript feels polished, I send it to the publisher. An editor will read it over and also likely send it to some reviewers for their response. If I’m lucky, the publisher offers me a contract (which is created by an admin person).

Now the manuscript will usually be seen by three different editors. Each makes suggestions, I respond, and then the ms moves on to the next editor. After that, a copy editor looks it over. This may seem excessive, but small errors often have snuck through this far. With a recent book, the copy editor found a spot where I’d mixed up the MCs’ names (something I do often)–and the prior 5 sets of eyes hadn’t caught it.

Next, somone in the design department takes the text and makes it look pretty. They’ll add the copyright info and title page, the chapter headings, and the stuff at the back of the book. Then the entire manuscript gets one last look by an proofreader–and by me–to find any problems.

Meanwhile, a blurbs coordinator has been helping me craft the blurb (the brief description that appears on the back of the book and in online listings). And an artist has been taking my (usually vague) ideas and turning them into cover art. The artist will also design the outside of the book as a whole, including the spine and back.

Other people at the publishing house will work on getting the book up on websites and sending it to distributors. Folks in marketing will be doing their jobs too. This might include working with review sites and bloggers to plan cover reveals and blog tours. Reviewers will be offered ARCs.

And finally… the book is in your hands! Ah, but we might not be done yet. If the book goes to audio, we have audio coordinators, talented narrators, and sometimes sound producers. If there are translations, those require a translator and proofreader too, sometimes new cover art, and all the work of getting a book set to go.

So the next time you pick up a new book, take a moment to thank all the hard-working people who put that book in your hands.

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