Considerations for New Publishers

Before you enter the editorial, design, and production stages with your manuscript, there are several things you should consider:

I. General considerations:

1. Who is the audience for your book?
(Your answer to this question will affect many project decisions, including the physical size of the book, the size of its type, and perhaps, the most appropriate method of binding.)

2. How do you want your book to look? What sorts of adjectives can you give the designer so that the design will be in line with your expectations? If there are existing books that appeal to you, seeing them can help us make plans that you’ll find compatible.

3. Is there one person who can serve as primary contact with all contractors (including BW&A Books)? Or will one person handle billing, another art, another editorial concerns, and so on?

4. When do you reasonably expect to have finished books? Are you aiming for a particular event?

5. Where do you plan to store the finished books? How do you plan to send books out to customers? (BW&A’s services usually end with delivery of the finished book, but we can help locate firms that provide storage and fulfillment services.)

II. Sales:

1. Again, who is the audience for your book?

2. Do you plan to place your book in bookstores or libraries? If so, you may need to register as a publisher with R. R. Bowker and purchase an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). ISBNs are usually necessary for bookstore sales.
You may also want a bar code, though this isn’t always necessary. You may also wish to register with the Library of Congress Catalog Program and the Register of Copyrights. BW&A Books will handle as much of this paperwork as possible for you, including creating the bar code.

3. In determining the price for your book, please be aware that bookstores generally require a 40% discount to carry a title (and wholesalers/distributors/online retailers will require an even higher discount). Independent stores may lower this discount in order to help out small publishers, but they cannot afford to go below 20%, and many can’t afford to lower it at all.

4. Take the time to browse in a bookstore and get an idea of the size and type of covering (cloth, paperback, jacket?) you want for your book. These decisions will greatly impact the price of your book. BW&A Books can obtain alternate printing quotes for your comparison, but these decisions are better made very early on.

5. How many books do you wish to print? The cost per book drops dramatically with higher numbers. It is also much cheaper (per copy) to print them all at once rather than having to reprint. We can help you decide if conventional offset printing or print-on-demand is best for your situation.

6. Where will you store your books? Does this location have climate control?

7. How do you plan to distribute your books? The decision to shrinkwrap each copy either individually or as a group or not at all largely depends upon how you will store and distribute them (by mail, in crates, or by hand).

III. Manuscript Preparation:

1. Try to be consistent throughout your work with spelling, punctuation, style, and manner of emphasis (boldface, underline, etc.). While your project budget will include costs for a copyeditor and proofreader to standardize these elements, the less they have to do, the less they will need to charge. Use the same method for a new paragraph throughout the manuscript. (We prefer a hard return at the end of the preceding paragraph, followed by a tab at the start of the new paragraph.)

2. Be very clear about levels of heads and sub-heads (or what you might call “headings” to introduce new material that form the structure of your book). Code each head in the manuscript with a key (A, B, C, etc.) to make it clear to the designer and editors which heads are more important, or use a standard type-style for each heading to indicate each level. However, do not try to make the book look typeset (justified type, lots of fonts), as the coding can be troublesome for the typesetter to remove.

3. Create a detailed table of contents which clearly marks “Chapter 1” & “Part 1,” etc. (these statements are very useful for those working on the manuscript, even if you don’t want them in the final table of contents).

IV. Art Preparation:

1. Make sure you have the appropriate permissions to use any photos, illustrations, or maps. Simply crediting the owner/creator of a work is not enough; you must actually receive written permission to use the piece. Once you have received this permission, then you must make sure to include the source in the caption copy. Taking care of these details before entering the production stage can save a lot of time and headaches.

2. Do you want your art to appear in “art-only” insert sections (you can have one or more of these, on text paper or on a glossy paper) or to be incorporated with the text? Or would you rather have art interspersed with the text throughout the book?

3. Please note that any dot-based output (newspaper, magazine, book, computer art generated at a low resolution) will not reproduce well. Let BW&A know if any (or most) of the original photos are irreplaceable. BW&A staff will be happy to answer any questions about the best way to provide art or scans. In general, you will get the best results if you give us the most “original” artwork (i.e., don’t make copies).

4. Please keep very clear records of every piece of art and the corresponding captions. Numbering consecutively (1, 2, 3…) in the order in which you wish for your art to appear in the final book is the simplest way to ensure that the designer/typesetter will place the art correctly. Let us know if you do or do not wish to print the figure numbers in the book.

5. It is helpful to place an “art call-out” in the manuscript file, indicating the approximate location for each image: <Figure 1 near here>. If this is too awkward or clumsy, we’ll help figure out another way for you to tell us which image should go where.

6. Think carefully about the sizing of the art. If you want to see each photo sized before it is matched up with text in first page proof, your art/production coordinator must know well in advance (we don’t normally show art sizes until first page proof). If you wish certain pictures to be larger or more prominent, this must also be communicated early in the project. If your book has lots of headshots, we’ll need you to label each one as A, B, C, etc. based on importance (we’ll come up with standard sizes).

V. Other:

1. What sorts of entries do you wish to include in the book’s index? How detailed should it be? Indexers normally charge around $1.50 per entry.

2. Do you plan to use jackets/covers as promotional materials? If so, how far in advance do you need them? Please be aware that it complicates matters quite a bit to request extra covers more than two weeks before the book is shipped from the printer.

3. Is the author(s) of the book being paid by the publisher? If so, this is called a “work-for-hire” and copyright rests with the publisher. You need a written agreement in this case stating that the author is agreeing to “work-for-hire” status and is indeed waiving her/his ownership of copyright. An unpaid author can also sign over the copyright to the publisher with a written agreement. If copyright will be registered in the author’s name, no assignment of copyright is needed.

4. What type of paper do you want (glossy, thick, rough, thin, white, cream, etc.)? Paper affects the thickness, photo quality, and feel of the book. It can also have a dramatic impact on the book’s cost. Do you have a preferences about using recycled FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) paper?