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Behind the Scenes at A Publishing House – A Manuscript’s Journey

Publishing House

Today we have a very interesting blog for you and this blog is especially important for new authors who are just beginning that journey of self-publishing or traditionally publishing their manuscript into a book.

We are of course talking about what goes on behind the scenes at a publishing house because when we think of publishing, we think of the author submitting the manuscript and the book being published.

In actuality, there is a lot that happens in the background when it comes to a publishing house and there are a lot of preparational steps that take place.

We hope to provide you with a virtual tour of what happens from the point at which the author walks in with the manuscript to the point at which a final book is created.

We are not going to show you a video or we are not going to create an animation but we are just going to use words to help you understand the entire journey of a manuscript to a book.

The process might be a little bit different depending on the type of publishing as well as the type of publisher but this is a general overview of the background process and behind-the-scenes of a publishing house.

Check Out Behind the Scenes of a Publishing House

Acquisition Of the Manuscript

The first step in this process is also the most important step in this entire process because this is when the manuscript comes in contact with the publishing company.

We call this stage acquisition because this is when we do the acquisition of the manuscript.

It can be done in multiple ways because in traditional publishing the author usually submits the manuscript for approval and when it is approved, the author is contacted.

The author can also choose to contact the publishing company with the help of their agent but this is not usually the case for first-time authors.

In the case of self-publishing, the selection process is actually quite simple and it is just the author walking into the office of the publishing company with the manuscript to start the consequent process of publishing the manuscript.

However, in a traditional publishing situation, there is a strict selection process out there as the editor is going to see if the manuscript is up to the mark.

If the editor finds that the manuscript is worthy of publishing then they are going to do a few calculations and prepare some financial estimates before contacting the author.

After they do the calculations, they are going to present royalty estimates to the author along with a proposal so that both of the parties can agree on a contract.

Editing The Manuscript

After the author and the publisher have agreed and signed a contract, the manuscript is going to go into editing and this usually takes the longest time.

If the author has completed the editing process along with the final draft, then the editing process on behalf of the publisher can take one or two weeks.

However, if the author has not initiated editing the final draft, then the editing process on behalf of the publisher hen take more than a month.

It is when multiple iterations of the manuscript will be created and it will move through multiple stages of editing as well as author review and also proofreading and much more.

Only when both the author and the publisher have agreed to the final edit it will move to the next stage of the process.

This step of editing is mostly common for self-publishing and traditional publishing, however, smaller publishers might outsource this work to freelancers.

If you are ever given the choice between in-house editing or freelancers, you must always choose in-house editing because it provides accountability and is generally of a better quality.

Manuscript Formatting

Now that we have the final manuscript in the hands of the publishers, it is just not ready yet for printing because there are important steps remaining.

The first step is going to be creating the layout and the print format and when we say format we mean aligning the text and getting it print ready.

This is when the size of the book is decided and this is when other important things such as the length of each page and the density of the text are also decided. Pagination is one of the most crucial steps in the entire publishing process.

The author might be present throughout the process or they might not be present but their approval might be taken.

This is usually done with the help of professional book formatting software and layout software like Adobe InDesign.

This is a step that you simply cannot skip as a publishing company whether you are creating a physical book or an eBook.

Book Cover Designing

While all these steps go on, the book cover designing team simultaneously starts their work from the moment the contract has been signed and the author has given the green signal.

They are given a copy of the manuscript and they are also present during a lot of conversations with the author.

They are also in contact with the author themselves and the author might also be present with them during their concept creation phase.

This helps them get an idea about how the book cover design is going to turn out and this is when they start creating multiple concepts for the author to choose.

The author might also contribute ideas to some of these concepts and some are shortlisted and it is them, the author and the editor.

In some instances, the sales and marketing team might also be involved in the book cover design because the book cover is ultimately a marketing tool.

When all the parties are satisfied with some concepts or if they collectively select a single concept, the design team then starts the work to finalise this concept.

The time to create a book cover depends on multiple things because if the book cover is going to be created in the form of an illustration, then it might take a lot of time.

If the book cover is digital art or created in Photoshop then it is going to take a little bit less time compared to creating something by hand.

Marketing Team Background Work

The marketing and sales team are also one of the teams that start their work just after the contractual agreement has been signed between the publishing company and the author.

They have a lot of work to do wherever there is a marketing opportunity involved.

That is why they are going to start their work of creating a marketing strategy and the marketing strategy will be different depending on the type of book.

Then they are going to ask the editorial team to create Advance Reading Copies (ARC) while they create a list of the people and send out the ARCs to them.

The marketing team will stay in touch with the recipients of the ARCs like booksellers, librarians, influencers as well as the media as well as book reviewers.

They might also start their work in creating promotional content that will just be needed during the publishing. The promotional content can be something as simple as images for social media posts or it can even be something elaborate as ad films or short films.

They will also start the process of creating merchandise and licencing merchandise if the publishing company has decided to create merchandise.

They will also work hand in hand with the design team for the book cover design as well as creating additional material in the form of banners and hoardings as well as bookmarks and much more.

Printing Plan and Printing

Now that the book is completely ready for print, the publishing company will forward the formatted manuscript and the book cover to the printing team.

There are going to be multiple meetings between all the parties involved including the author to decide on a few important details before a print sample is produced.

The publishing company is going to decide on the type of prints including the print quality as well as the GSM of the paper and even the type of book cover.

If the book has illustrations in the body, then the print quality of the illustrations is also decided because the print quality of the illustrations is going to be different from the print quality of the book cover.

Accordingly, all the important details related to the print are decided and then a sample is created or multiple samples depending on how many versions of the book are going to be sold.

If everyone is happy with the results then the book is printed.


Finally, we come to the stage of the distribution but before that, the book is sent out for copyright or it can even be done online.

When it comes to distribution, different lots are created for different wholesalers, bookstore chains etc.

The different lots are divided and some stock is kept at the publishing company to be sold online through their own website.

When all the stock is sent out to their destinations and warehouses, the book is ready to be launched launched on offline and online stores.

This is when the book cover design team as well as the print team can rest as well as the editing team because now it is up to the marketing team to make it a success story.

We hope this blog helps you understand what it is like behind the scenes at a publishing house and what goes on in the background right from the manuscript to a printed book ready for publishing.

If you want to be part of this journey then we are here for you because we are Orange Publishers and we are a legacy book publishing company that is also the fastest-growing publishing house in India.

All our operations are in-house and we would love to have you on this incredible journey of publishing your vision to the world.

We publish in nearly every genre and we also publish eBooks and audiobooks and we welcome you to visit our website and check out everything we do.

Common Book Publishing FAQs

What are the elements of a publishing house?

There are different elements to a publishing house in the form of different departments that handle their own responsibility.

We have the administration team and sometimes they are referred to as the publisher.

We then have the team that is responsible for the editing and it is also called the editorial department and they take care of all the editing.

There is the printing team and the name is self-explanatory because they take care of printing the book and they handle the printing press operations. Some publishing houses might outsource this element.

We also have a legal team that deals with filing the copyright and creating the legal contracts that get signed between the author and the publisher.

There is the accounts team that deals with debit and credit like royalty payments as well as expense payments etc.

The publishing company also has design teams that handle the book layout formatting and the book cover designing and every other design element of the book.

Then there is the marketing and sales department and we all know what they do.

What is the objective of a publishing house?

We all know that the primary objective of a publishing house is to publish books but their objectives can be a lot more than that.

The publishing house can provide multiple publishing-related services, sometimes independently, in the form of editing a manuscript or designing the book cover, formatting the manuscript and much more.

And they might be there to market the manuscript and their objective is also to promote the manuscript.

Additionally, the objective of a publishing house might also be to host book events and to facilitate new authors.

It all depends on the type of publishing house.

What are the three types of publishing?

When it comes to types of publishing, there is traditional publishing which we all know of where the author approaches the publishing company and the publishing company invests their capital rather than the author.

Then we come to the newer type of publishing in the form of self-publishing where the author is basically the publisher because the author spends their own capital and the publishing company is just there to help them with the entire process.

We can also find different hybrid models where there is a capital investment sharing between the publishing company and the author and both of them fulfil the role of investing money in the book.