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Book Production Delays (And How You Can Fix Them)

Whether you have a specific release date goal in mind or are just ready to get your book out into the world, you, as an author, want to ensure that your book moves through the production process smoothly. While some delays are out of your control, there are some steps you can take to work with your production editor and have your book sent off to the printer and onto bookstore shelves as quickly and efficiently as possible.


1. Deliver detailed edits to your production editor all at once.

Throughout the production process, you work closely with your designated production editor from perfecting your manuscript, adding illustrations, laying out the book design, and finally sending it off to the printer. As you move through the process, you may be tempted to send edits or preferred changes to your production editor as you go. Because the production editor serves as the liaison between you and the rest of your production team (illustrators, designers, editors, etc.), making changes here and there can ultimately slow down the process. 

Instead, try taking the time to review your manuscript, illustrations, or overall layout in detail, and send your production editor all of the edits you wish to make at the same time for clarity and reinforcement.

2. Figure out your ideas for illustration inspiration early on.

As we mentioned in our recent illustrations process blog, figuring out what illustration styles you like and do not like early on can make this component of the production process run more smoothly.

Your illustration inspiration can be a certain color scheme, a particular style (cartoony vs. realistic), or elements from an existing book that you would like to emulate. Regardless of your illustration goals, figuring out what you envision for your book and communicating that to your production editor early on in the process will help the process move more efficiently.

3. Decide on your author bio, back cover synopsis, and dedication page.

Other variables that can affect the book publication timeline are the dedication section, the author biography, and the back cover description.

Who do you want to recognize in your dedication section? What back cover text will make your book stand out against the rest? What key facts about yourself do you want to highlight in your biography?

If you are having a difficult time deciding on these pieces, do your research! By looking at other books in your genre, you can decide what you like and do not like about a book’s setup. 

4. For adult titles, be specific about what you are looking for in a front cover design.

Similar to the illustrations process, being open and transparent about what kind of cover design you are looking for will make the design process more efficient in the long run. 

Do you gravitate toward certain color schemes? Do you like a specific font? Are you inspired by any existing book covers?

5. Be honest and transparent with your production editor.

As the author, you are in the driver’s seat. You have full creative control and your input is a crucial part of the production process. Knowing what you want, communicating effectively, and being honest with your production team will help make your creative vision a reality.

While our production editors are here to offer advice and their expertise when needed, you will need to be confident about your vision and your preferences so that they can take the necessary steps to get your book out into the world.

6. Be on top of your email!

Overall, the production process as a #mascotauthor is very hands-on. As the leader of your project, being communicative with your Mascot team is imperative. Be prepared to check your email often, be open to suggestions and criticism, and most importantly, be ready to dive into the publishing journey!

Want to see more author tips like these? Visit our blog archive to learn more.


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The Book Production Process at Mascot Books

For my first blog post, and as senior project manager here at Mascot Books, I thought going over the book publishing production process in a general sense would be a good place to start. Each month following this post, I will delve more in depth into each stage of book production. I will also cover frequently asked questions (FAQ) within each post. Take a look at one of our children’s books in production: IMG_20150113_115615 (4) First Contact Once the contract comes in, the project is handed off to one of our two project managers (PM). The PM will contact the author asking some of the same questions each time (do you have a deadline or date to have books in hand), but many are specific to each project as no two are the same.   FAQ: How long does the production process take? Answer: It depends. There are many individual factors within each project that alter the timeline (illustration details, licensing, etc). However, we have found that on average a book takes about 4-5 months from when the contract comes in to when the author will have books in hand.   Script Children’s Book – The PM will also be your editor. This is when any suggestions for changes are made. Proofreading here is also a focus, but that is something that will also be done throughout the rest of the process. Once the script is finalized (though this doesn’t mean set-in-stone), it will be split into the spreads that will correspond to the illustrations. Novel – The PM will contract one of our freelance editors to work on your script. The edited script along with a message from the editor will be sent to the author for their review.   FAQ: Can I make changes to my script throughout the process after it’s been determined final and we’ve moved on to the illustration stage? Answer: Yes, but only minor edits and only they do not affect the illustrations.   Illustrations/Cover Design and Photo Insert Children’s Book – If the author is providing their own illustrations, the PM will provide them with the required specs. If illustrations are being done through Mascot Books, the author will then provide descriptions of the characters as well as descriptions of the spreads. The illustration process consists of a test sketch, storyboard, and final illustrations. I will go into this process in great detail at a later date. Novel – With any guidance provided by the author, our design department will create a couple cover options to select from and edit. Once all the photos for the insert are provided along with captions, the designer will lay it out for your review.   FAQ: How long do illustrations take? Answer: This timeline varies on the number of illustrations, level of detail, and kind of illustrations that are being created. For example, watercolor paintings will take much more time than digital images. On average, illustrations take about 6 weeks from the time the artist is contracted to when final illustrations are received.   Layout Once all materials are obtained, the project will be put in the design queue to be laid out from cover to cover.   FAQ: Can the designer start laying out my book with some of the illustrations to save time? Answer: No. We cannot proceed to the next stage of the process until the previous stage is complete.   PDF This is a fully laid out version of your book from cover to cover. Three versions of the PDF will be created that will include any edits the author requests and any edits found by the PM that are correcting errors.   FAQ: Will I get to see the final version of my book before it’s sent to the printer? Answer: Yes. We will only send your book to the printer once you have reviewed and approved the final version.   Licensing Not all projects require this stage. If so, the PDF will be provided to the licensing company or directly to the school as soon as it’s approved by the author. After any changes have been made that the school requested and we have received their approval, the PDF will be sent back to the author for a final review and approval.   FAQ: How long does this process take? Answer: It depends on the school or professional team, the time of year, and the amount of content for them to review. On average, it takes about 4-6 weeks.   Printing Once the final PDF is approved by the author, the files will be sent to the printer. Our office receives a physical proof from the printer (unless otherwise agreed to with the author) to check color and layout. All children’s books are read a final time in this stage. All novels will have their covers and dust covers read a final time in this stage, and the interior will be briefly reviewed for overall layout.   FAQ: How long does printing take? Answer: This depends on the printer and the time of year as each printer has busy seasons. On average, it takes 4-5 weeks.   Shipping from the Printer The author will be contacted with their estimated ship date and information to help them decide how many books to have shipped to them, and how many to ship to our warehouse.   FAQ: How much does shipping cost? Answer: This depends on the number of books being shipped, where they are going, and what time of year. Once the author has been contacted with the estimated ship date, they can request estimates on shipping to know what to expect on the invoice for shipping.   In my post next month, I will go more in depth on the First Contact part of the process. Feel free to contact me with any burning questions you’d like answered about the production process.

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