By Zoë Sadokierski Lecturer, School of Design at University of Technology, Sydney
Publishing is the process of getting the author’s story out of her or his head and into the hands of a reader. Zoe Sadokierski
Authors don’t write books, they write manuscripts. Publishing is the process of getting an author’s manuscript into the hands of a reader, by materialising it – giving it form, as a book. This may be printed (a codex) or digital (an ebook).
I produced the illustrations in this post for a Sydney Writers Festival talk in 2012. All publishing houses have different protocols and cultures; this overview is based on my experience as an in-house book designer at Allen&Unwin (2003-2006), and as a freelance designer for a range of Australian publishers over the past decade.
The author enters a publishing house with a manuscript. Zoe Sadokierski
The author’s manuscript is either solicited (the publisher asks them to write it) or unsolicited (the author writes it, then shops for a publisher). Being rejected is awful and publishing contracts are complicated, so many authors employ an agent to negotiate a deal with a publisher.
This video from Random House gives a behind the scenes look at the book design process. It features interviews with designers Christopher Brand, Chip Kidd, Peter Mendelsund, Marysarah Quinn and Robbin Schiff.
This promotional video from the US office of Random House provides a behind the scenes look at the workings of a major publishing house. It features interviews with the company’s editors, designers, marketing staff and publicists, highlighting the huge amount of work, money and effort that goes into producing and promoting a commercially published book.
Random House is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world and is poised to become even larger as it moves to merge with Penguin. Its authors include Maya Angelou, John Grisham, Gillian Flynn, E.L. James, George R.R. Martin and Paulo Coelho.