Hard copy and eBook – the different stages of publishing

Robert Anasch-1533669955142-6a73332af4db

To the casual observer, the publishing process can perhaps seem a bit … impenetrable. There are so many stages and so much jargon that it can be a bit confusing. But if your work is accepted for publication, it is likely to take the following journey. Or one that is quite similar!

Content – Stage I

  • Manuscript assessment
    A report on the ‘big picture’: an assessment of overall plot, story arc, pacing, characterisation, narrative points of view (POV) and structure. No amendments will be made to the manuscript.
    Approximate time: 4 weeks
  • Developmental edit
    A thorough and in-depth process during which the structural aspects of the writing – plot, story arc, pacing, consistency, characterisation, narrative POVs – are examined  to help the author resolve any issues within the manuscript.
    Approximate time: 5–6 weeks
  • Copyedit
    A line-by-line look at the manuscript, focusing on grammar, spelling, style, consistency and punctuation issues at sentence level.
    Approximate time: 5–6 weeks



Most writers produce manuscripts in a ‘raw’ format – using Word, Google Docs or OpenOffice, for instance – but to produce a document that is suitable for print, this text (and any accompanying images) needs to be typeset: laid out in a print- or eBook-friendly format using specialised design software. (If the plan is to release only as an eBook, this stage can be skipped. If the plan is to release as hard copy AND eBook, then the conversion into eBook format can happen from the typeset files.)
Approximate time: 2 weeks


Content – Stage II

  • Proofread
    A proofreader will check the typeset body text, running heads, display quotations, captions, footnotes, appendices, page numbers, etc. and mark up any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, or layout.
    Approximate time: 1–2 weeks
  • Final read
    If a proofread is particularly involved and the MS heavily marked up, a publisher may also put the text though a final read, which is like an additional proofread with a fresh pair of eyes.
    Approximate time: 1–2 weeks



Design of front and back cover (and spine)
When the book length is determined, the spine width is finalised, and the complete cover artwork can be generated.
Approximate time: ongoing (a designer will have been briefed very early in the editorial stages.)


Print/eBook Conversion

  • Print
    The corrected files are converted to PDF and sent to print.
    Printing takes approximately 2–3 weeks
  • eBook Conversion
    The corrected files are converted – either from raw format or typeset design – to EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats for eBook distribution.
    Approximate time: 1–2 weeks


* These turnaround times are based on a straightforward, text-led b&w paperback book of approximately 80,000 words, printed locally.*


Photography by Robert Anasch, Unsplash

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