Thursday, February 15, 2007

Production Editing

My next step up the publishing ladder was to the position of Production Editor. Interestingly enough, I resisted the move for quite a while. I enjoyed copy editing and didn't feel ready for the responsibility of managing entire book projects from beginning to end. But the rapid growth of our company demanded that careers progressed quickly. So I accepted the step up.

As a production editor, I received chapters from the book's development editor and sent them to a copy editor (in-house or freelance). Then I did a "second edit" on that person's work. When the edits were done, I sent the chapters to the author for them to review our edits and answer our questions. When the author returned the chapters, I stripped out the queries and made sure everything was answered and consistent.

I also had to coordinate all of the "art" in the book, which was usually just pictures of computer screens or simple line drawings. I had to send these to the Illustration department to be processed, and then attach copies of them to the chapters when I submitted them to layout.

Layout took the chapters and art and made them look like the actual pages of the finished book. Then the proofreading department would check them for typos and missing text. Then I reviewed the chapters and marked any corrections. Then layout fixed them and I checked the corrections. This continued until all corrections were done correctly and the book was "clean." Then we sent it to the printer. Because we had three shifts working in Production, sometimes this would happen as late as midnight. So "shipping a book" was always a stressful race against time.

I also got a chance to proof the book's index, which was produced in-house by indexers. Sometimes I had input into the design of the interior layout and was asked to compile a "sample chapter" with a representation of each element (heading, text, tables, etc.) that appeared in the book.

Tomorrow I'll talk a little about what I did as a senior production editor.

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