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Book Production Checklist: Ten Steps
to Take Your Book to the Printer

By Robert Gluckson, M.A.

This book editing and production checklist outlines what to do in what order to get your book to the printer as quickly as possible with the least expense. Writers often work on several projects at the same time; when it comes to PUBLISHING, following a production plan will save time and money.

Missing the smallest of these steps can result in delays and in needless expense. Book production integrates many tasks, from writing to design and even marketing. Yes, it's smart to multi-task, with production planning, web design, and marketing strategy. But the book editing and production process requires special attention towards the end of the writing process.

1. Get every last word done of your text before beginning final layout. Yes, your designer (or you, with your designer hat) can and should start designing the look and feel of the book with less then everything, but once you start paying for layout, every little text change costs money.

Get the core text in a single Word file. Not the table of contents and cover material, just the guts of the book.

2. Do your online rewrite. Page by page, chapter by chapter. When you can read a whole paragraph without fixing anything – it's time for the next step.

3. Copyedit online. First, do a Spell Check on the whole document. Use Word's "find and replace" tool if you know there are repeated mistakes, like the use of a phrase or word that you want replaced (for example, get rid of all uses of the word "etc.," "firstly," and "lastly").

4. Print out the book. Copyedit and proofread the printed copy, then fix your digital file.

5. Give a printout to someone else who will copyedit and proofread. Let the person know the level of support you want. Is it just grammar, spelling, and checking for fact errors, or all the way to major editing decisions like chapter organization and rewrites? While they're working, address final content details.

6. Write the Cover, Title Page, Acknowledgments, and Table of Contents. You may have Introduction, Appendixes, an Order Form, and an Index. It's handy to have these separately from your text files.

For example, print out the Table of Contents and compare it to the Chapter titles in the text. It's harder to do this when they're in the same file.

Start each file, whether you have all the content ready or not, then add as you are able. For example, the back cover may include material from your introduction and author bio sections. Copy them into your back cover file for later editing and add new content as it comes to you.

7. Update your master file to incorporate your proofreader's suggestions.

8. Write the Back Cover. Start with a one paragraph description of the books contents. Follow with marketing angles -- mention what appeals to about three target audiences. Include a short bio and an author photo. Testimonials should address what each target audience is looking for. Most or all of this information is from your Introduction. Where in a book store would your book be shelved? Note the classification in the upper left. Leave a space at the bottom right for the bar code.

9. While you're playing with all this promotional writing, gather your website and promo materials. The Introduction, Back Cover, Publishing Information, Bio, and Order Form content will all be included in your website and written promotions. Decide on a sample chapter to share online. Add a Resource page to attract links from friends and associates. What can you offer to get an email address? Capture them somehow to repeat your sales offer later - and to pitch services and your next book, when you're ready.

10-a. Put together your graphic elements and promotional materials. Prepare your social media and search engine marketing materials. Pull out material for a few articles to put on the web and on online article servers. Prepare 140 maximum character how-to and inspirational contributions for Twitter. Prepare one paragraph items for blogs.

10-b. Meanwhile, you'll be doing book design – but pay attention to what to do when. Start the cover research when you start the book, but don't do layout until you've gone through a printed out proofreading!

Read Ten Book Design Steps (and What NOT to Do)."

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