The journey your words take from your fingertips on the keyboard to being placed on the shelf by a bookstore employee is one that few authors see from start to finish. As such, we thought that it might be interesting to walk you through the steps we take to prepare and deliver your message to the place where readers will discover it.
Step One: Editing
The editing process is the first step in the journey to the bookstore and begins when you submit your manuscript. Your editor works with you to ensure that the manuscript communicates your message as effectively as possible to as broad an audience as possible. You may go through a few rounds of revisions to accomplish this and we hope that you find the process to be encouraging. One detail you may not realize is that this phase is technically referred to (by publishing nerds, such as those of us with whom you are working) as developmental editing. Developmental editing is when the focus is on the message development. The more laser-focused aspects of editing such as grammar and syntax are technically referred to as copyediting. Although your editor will certainly adjust grammar and some aspects of copyediting as your manuscript goes through developmental editing, the full copyedit of your manuscript is completed in the production phase of the journey to the bookstore.
Step Two: Production
After your manuscript has gone through it’s developmental edit, you and your editor should both feel great about the content and it’s ability to connect with the audience. Now it’s time to ensure that it does so without error. Your editor works with our production team as they walk through production development. First, your manuscript is copyedited by a specialized editor who focuses on individual words, phrases, and sentences to ensure that the smallest elements of your book are executed within publishing standards. Second, the copyedited version of your manuscript is typeset. This is the process by which your words are put into the design that takes your manuscript from looking like Microsoft Word, to looking like a book page. The resulting typeset manuscript is often referred to as page proofs or pages, for short (by the aforementioned publishing nerds). Third, you then get time to review a copy of those pages. While you are reviewing them, they’re also being reviewed by at least two proofreaders. They are looking for typos, and believe it or not, they will find some even after all of that editing. Your editor will then work with the production manager to review all of the typos identified as well as the changes you submit from your review of the pages to prepare the final copy of your typeset manuscript. This copy of your manuscript is what will go the printer.
Step Three: Printing
Prior to sending your book to the printer, we identify the physical materials that will be used, determine the quantity we will print, and receive printing quotes from multiple printers who want the opportunity to print your book. The printer who is selected to print your book will send us samples as they begin the printing process so we can check key elements of the materials in advance of receiving the final copies.
Step Four: Distribution
While our editorial and production teams are busy building your book, the sales and marketing teams are busy preparing to distribute your book. The plans they make and the work they do are all put into action when the printer delivers your books to our warehouse. Once the books arrive in our warehouse, we overnight you the first copy of the book so that you see it before anyone else. Once you have a copy, we release the books from the warehouse and begin shipping the books to the bookstores that have ordered them. In most instances the books don’t get shipped straight to the individual bookstores. Instead, they get sent to distribution centers (warehouses) for the bookstore chain. From there, the bookstore distribution center repackages your book along with other products going to individual stores and sends your book with broader shipments. This process can take several weeks for some retailers and only a few days for other retailers, which is why your book may be in one store a long time before it’s in another, or may begin shipping from an online retailer before you ever see it in a physical bookstore. Once it arrives at an individual bookstore, it has to wait until the day of the week that particular bookstore resets its stock. Then, there is that wonderful day when a bookstore employee takes the box of books out to the store floor, finds that shelf for new releases or the endcap we’ve purchased and places your book there for customers to discover!
We hope that this journey from your keyboard to the bookstore shelf has been helpful. Please know that it is our joy to be the most effective publishing nerds on the planet in order to help your message connect as deeply and broadly as possible for maximum Kingdom impact. May God work mightily through your words to the glory of Christ!
Jennifer Lyell serves as Director of Trade Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources where she leads the Trade Book business. The hundreds of titles that the Trade Books business has acquired, developed, or managed under Jennifer’s leadership include New York Times bestsellers Fervent, The Vow, The Wisdom of Faith, The Resolution for Women, Reshaping It All, Balancing It All, and key brands such as She Reads Truth. She also serves on the board of directors for Reaching & Teaching International Ministries and travels overseas multiple times a year.