Wednesday, August 24, 2016
some notes from behind the scenes of dgp
Every once in a while, I like to do a rundown on my experiences and procedures as an editor and how things operate at dgp. (it's handy for new authors, who might be interested in timelines and schedules and stuff, but also gets me thinking about better, more effective ways of doing things. Sometimes, it's all chaos all of the time, (really most of the time, especially when you add in dayjob obligations, my own creative work, and other timesuckers (long commutes, errands) or in good times, leisure (but then what is that?)
I tend to work on several titles at a time, which thanks to expeditious use of post-it notes, dropbox, and e-mail folders usually keeps some of the chaos at bay. Usually I might be releasing one chap, laying out another, or doing final proofs on another--sometimes all in the same week, so these things help me to keep organized. I usually start by corresponding with upcoming authors to secure the most final version of the chap if they've made changes since the acceptance or have updated acknowledgements. Usually, if we haven't already, we will begin talking about the cover--general things they'd like to see, other covers they like, pieces of work from artists they might know who would let us use it. Sometimes, they have designer friend who are willing to layout a full cover and deliver a print ready file. Sometimes I work from scratch with my own ideas or things they've suggested, or sometimes create specific pieces of work on my own that fit with the book. For my own layouts, I use a combination of various photo editing programs and MSWord or Publisher to create a pdf (obviously there are better ways to do this with things like the Adobe Suite, but since I like to be able to access files at various times on a host of different computers --at home, the studio, the library where I work.
Depending on the formatting, inside layout can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days. and I find myself making decisions on text size fonts margins and such. I also use word for this for the same access reason above. I usually take a pass through on the first galley to catch any noticeable missteps or formatting issues and then send it to the authors for a look, which they then make suggestions on. If there are more complicated formatting things or questions, there might be a couple more rounds of back and forth. Once I have a finalized version I will run a test print to make sure all looks good.
At this point, I begin getting get the webpage up and start promoting the book through social media channels and such. I try to do this at least a week before I actually start printing because I can gauge how many copies we are going to need right out of the gate. I usually do a first batch anywhere from 30-50 depending on whether the author wants to pick up extra copies, or if there are a lot of initial orders or requests for review copies. I will then keep printing in batches of 10 or so as I need more. I try to keep at least a small batch in the studio of the last year or so's releases for when we have open studios.
It usually takes about a week to two weeks to print, collate, bind, and trim the books (this can be longer or shorter depending on how many books I am working on at once and the volume of orders and author copy requests at any given moment (and how much studio time I am getting in) Since I am still coveting a tabletop press, I have a big metal weight that I use to "smoosh" the books to make them nice and evenly flat, so I try to leave them under that for a day or so before I ship them out.
I am usually about 2-3 weeks processing time on outgoing books depending on how new the title is and the volume of orders. I try to send out anywhere from 20-30 orders per week, which necessitates some time making copies if I don't have them in stock, stuffing envelopes, addressing labels and fixing stamps (or sometimes printed labels.)
I also spend a small portion of time monthly ordering supplies, ink, paper, cardstock, shipping supplies. During the summer and early fall, I am also reading submissions for the following year's schedule, which has it's own set of procedures and processes And sometimes reading submissions for wicked alice. or other special anthology projects.
Over the years, there are things that have made my life so much easier. Booklet format and double sided printers saved me years of laying things out with alternating A/B sides. Faster printers. Better, heftter trimmers and staplers. We will occasionally hand bind a chap (saddle style or japanese stab binding) but 99 percent are staple bound. (I adore beautiful hand bound books, but I am really sort of terrible at it and wind up bleeding more than binding).