Author Production Checklist

Everything our authors need to do over the production process, and when.

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    This is a checklist to help you through the production process. It explains what you need to do and when. Note at which point in the process you need to take each step. You will be sent automated emails to prompt you when you need to take action.

    1. Complete your Book Details page and Author Profiles

    When? Before you upload your Manuscript during the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section.

    Complete your Book Details page. Please fill out: Title, Subtitle, Strapline, Edited Description, Endorsements, and Categories. Also fill out your Profile. Info there will be used to create your marketing materials and back-cover copy.

    2. Add stylesheet notes

    When? Before you upload your Manuscript during the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section.

    Add stylesheet notes at the top of your Production page.

    Specify here whether you want the final text to use English or American spelling. Select one of the two options:

    • UK Stylesheet (BrE)
    • US Stylesheet (AmE)

    You may add specific copyediting, style, and design requests to your Author Stylesheet, such as:

    • The type of quotation marks you need.
    • How to spell particular, uncommon words. For example, you may be concerned that the copyeditor will change "systemic" to "systematic" because the latter is more familiar.
    • Heading size — specify in pts.
    • Phrases you have chosen that you don’t want edited out.
    • Specific design features such as starting chapters on a right-hand page (recto) or using particular typefaces, drop caps, heading designs, and so on.
    • If you sense that your manuscript is in good standing and you've already had it copyedited elsewhere, you can mention this and specify that you want only obvious errors fixed. The assigned copyeditor will see to it.

    The most important thing is to be clear and consistent in your specifications. The more specific you can be, the better a job the Copyeditor can probably do. Otherwise, they may make some judgments that you disagree with. It’s a very subjective area. Words and styles change. For some authors today, it’s important to cap the initial letter, N, in the word Nature, whereas for others (and according to conventions), it’s an error. It doesn’t matter how long your comments are; it's better to flag these points before copyediting starts rather than change them when the copyedited manuscript comes back to you.

    If you don't mention anything, the Copyeditor and Typesetters will treat the book as standard, design it conventionally, and copyedit and proofread it according to our default House Style.

    3. Collect Endorsements

    When? Ideally, before you upload your manuscript during the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section, >we want your endorsements in your manuscript. The latest we can receive them is during the Proofs stage. Endorsements received later than the stage will likely result in the minimum text corrections fee.

    An endorsement is a short written communication of approval and support for your book from an influencer, usually a known author or professional connected to the genre and subject of your book. 3-4 high quality endorsements is great. We don't seek endorsements for books. This aspect is down to you.

    Add your endorsements to 2 places:

    • At the beginning of your manuscript. If the Proofreading stage has started, tell us by dropping a note on the Forum.
    • The ENDORSEMENTS section of your Book Details page.
    • The text you add to the ENDORSEMENTS section of your Book Details feeds through to the Collective Ink website. We also use it to write your Advance Information (AI) sheet, which we use to promote your book to the trade.
    • Remember, endorsements received later than the Proofreading stage will likely result in a corrections fee if you want to add them to the text. But add them to the ENDORSEMENTS section of your Book Details page, anyway, so that they will still show on the website. Let us know on the Forum if they are highly significant (famous or internationally renown names, etc.), and we will update our sales reps and the worldwide trade databases.
    If your endorsements are overlong, remember to edit them down to make them immediate and punchy.
    • Put the “best” or “key” endorsements at the top. You can arrange the order of your endorsements by numbering the "Sort Order" box, which you will see at the bottom of the text box when it's in Edit mode. Order them 1, 2, 3, etc. These will be the top endorsements on our website and the first that potential buyers will read.
    • Add your endorsement as one paragraph. If it is a big one, edit it down and don't format it into multiple paragraphs. Endorsements always display on the website in plain text in one paragraph. Don't put quotation marks around your endorsements.
    • Write the name of the person who gave the endorsement in the From box, no more than 150 characters long. Also write where the reviewer is from (e.g., which magazine they write for, which organization they belong to, which books they have authored).
    • Leave the Source box empty. All the information from the From box feeds automatically into the promotional material we send to the trade. If you put important information into the Source box, then it won't reach the people who need to see it.

    Advice on securing Endorsements:

    • Ask personal contacts. Anyone who might be a good fit for an endorsement.
    • Ask personal contacts to ask their personal contacts. Some people you know might be able to connect you.
    • Don't be afraid to cold-call well-known people or people who endorse similar books in your field.They may not reply — but some might, particularly if the book is closely related to their concerns and you tailor the letter or email accordingly.
    • Tailor your approach. Skip the flattery, talk their language, write about the things they care about.
    • Offer a free hard copy of your book. Our authors report that people are more likely to respond positively if they are offered a hard copy.

    You can use endorsements from your previous books if you have them, but we prefer that you use endorsements for the book being published. Add a note on the Author Stylesheet, explaining what you have done and your requirements.

    4. Add 10–20 keywords to your Marketing page

    When? Before you upload your manuscript during the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section.

    Choose 10–20 keywords/phrases that describe the content and theme of your book. Write your keywords in the Keywords box in the Advertising section of your Marketing page.

    Choose keywords to increase your book’s visibility via Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). These are words and phrases in your title, subtitle, blurb and Keyword box (on your Marketing page), and they greatly increase your visibility on search engines such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and LibraryThing.

    As most people “shop” for books online, this is crucial to your book’s success.

    If you’ve written a book that teaches Reiki and someone searches for “book on how to do reiki” — and your book does not show up on the first 1–3 pages of results — potential readers are not going to find it.

    • Choose keywords that accurately describe your book.
    • Don’t only choose singular words — use “strings” as well, small groupings or phrases of words.
    • If possible, make sure that your most important keywords are in your title, subtitle, and blurb, too.
    • For example: "Barbary Corsairs" "Eastern Mediterranean" "sixteenth century" for a serious history book, or alternatively, "racy" "adventure" "pirates" for historical fiction set in the same era/place.
    • Put yourself in a reader's position — what might they type into a search engine if they want a book like yours? E.g. “How to save the environment books” “racy historical fiction” and so on.
    • Use Search Engine Auto-complete: Most search engines, such as Google's or Amazon's, can generate ideas for keywords by using the search engine’s built-in auto-complete feature (known as Google Suggest within the Google search engine) to display popular search terms. To use auto-complete, begin typing in the search box; the most commonly entered user queries based on that search engine’s algorithms will appear in a drop-down list in the search box. Please be aware that the results are based on your search history. To avoid this possible bias, clear your search history first.
    • Use Google AdWords Keyword Planner. This source for new keywords provides the search volume or traffic estimates for a list of keywords. The “multiply keyword list” feature produces more keywords by generating combinations of keywords from multiple lists: www.google.com/AdWords.

    Example

    James Fenimore Cooper: A Life, Nick Louras

    James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) was America’s first novelist, celebrated for his masterpiece The Last of the Mohicans. Over a prolific career, he created a national mythology that endures to this day. According to Daniel Webster, “we may read the nation’s history in his life.” Yet Cooper was also a provocative figure, ultimately disillusioned with American democracy. He spent his boyhood in the wilds of the frontier, served as a merchant sailor and naval officer, traveled the courts of Europe in an age of upheaval and returned home to scandal and controversy. He conquered the literary world only to fall victim to his own fame. In the first popular biography of Cooper in a generation, historian Nick Louras brings the man and his age vividly to life.

    Keywords: James Fenimore Cooper, last of the Mohicans, America’s first novelist, historical biography, literary history, popular biography, American democracy, literary biography, American literature, 19th century novelist.

    5. Prepare your manuscript as a Word Doc

    When? Before you upload your Manuscript during the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section.

    Prepare your manuscript (follow the link for full instructions) as a Word Doc for production. You must strip out any images or automated end- or footnotes so that your manuscript is compatible with the typesetters' software. Make sure that your manuscript is complete. Take your time. If you need more time, update the Expected Date and click Save Changes.

    6. Upload your finished, formatted manuscript

    When? Once you have thoroughly prepared your manuscript, upload it to the Manuscript Upload and Approval workflow section.

    You will need:

    • your Word Document; and
    • any images that need to be in your manuscript, uploaded as separate files.

    Visit your Production page.

    • Go to the Workflow section. Click on the arrows to the right of Manuscript Upload and Approval to open this section.
    • Click + upload a file, add a description, choose a Type and select Manuscript.
    • Click Choose file and select the file from your hard drive.
    • Click upload file.
    • If you have images for your manuscript, add them too. Click + upload a file, add a description, choose a Type and select Picture.
    • Do not add Cover ideas here. For that, use the Cover Workflow section below.
    • Click Save Changes.
    • Click Approve to notify the editor.
    • Whenever you upload something to the database, if you can see it there on the page, then it has worked. If you cannot see it, it has not been loaded.

    This is your last chance to check that you have formatted and prepared your manuscript correctly. Not doing so now may result in delays later in the Production Process.

    Now you’re all set, click on Approve/Confirm — the Editorial Manager will be notified and the Production process will begin.

    You will have one more chance to change the manuscript when you review the copyedited manuscript.

    7. Contribute to the cover brief

    When? Your publisher will contact you any time from when you sign the contract onwards, but at the latest once you have checked and uploaded your Copyedited manuscript.
    • Your Publisher will create a cover brief for your Cover Designer, involving input from your Publicist, yourself and anyone they consider relevant. As part of the brief they may ask you to source existing book covers, or a stock image from shutterstock.com. They will use the following Cover design brief template.
    • Once the brief is created, your Cover Designer designs the cover, usually offering a few options. Your Publisher makes the final decision on which cover to go with.
    • Your Cover Designer will upload one finished cover design to the Cover workflow section.

    8. Approve your edited changes

    When? When your copyeditor uploads your copyedited manuscript, triggering an email notification that lets you know, and at the beginning of the Final Copyedit workflow section.

    Your copyedited manuscript will be a a Word document, not a hard copy. To download your copyedited manuscript, click on the double arrows in the Copyediting stage in the Production workflow and then click on the document name to download the document.

    • Your copyeditor will use Track Changes.
    • Your copyeditor will copyedit the manuscript with the Track Changes facility switched on.
    • This means that Word marks any changes made to the document. You have the choice to accept the changes or not.
    • The tracked-changes markers are for your benefit so that you can see what has been altered.

    You don't have to accept all the changes made by the copyeditor, but it's recommended that you do.

    • It's best to cycle through each of the copyeditor's changes first, one by one, accepting (or rejecting) each accordingly.
    • Then, if you wish to make any changes yourself, do so with the Tracked Changes feature still on.
    • If you wish to reply to any of the copyeditor's comments, feel free to do so by replying directly to the copyeditor's comment (another comment bubble will open for you, in which you can leave your response).
    • After you upload your final-copyedited manuscript, the Editorial Manager will provide a final review before sending it to the typesetters for proofing. If needed, the Editorial Manager will respond to your notes directly or communicate with the copyeditor.

    How to use Track Changes:

    • In the Review tab, in the Tracking section, choose Track Changes.
    • On the Review tab, in the Tracking section, in the Simple Markup list, choose a view option:
      • Simple Markup is the default option and indicates where changes are by leaving a red line in the margin.
      • No Markup hides markups to show what the incorporated changes will look like.
      • All Markup shows all edits marked up with different colors of text and strikethroughs. Original shows the document in its original form.

    Word offers a Reviewing Pane where you can see every change listed.

    • On Windows, you can access the Reviewing Pane from the Review Tab in the Tracking section
    • On a Mac, the Reviewing Pane is part of the Navigation Pane, which you can access from the View tab.

    Cycle through each individual change by using the Accept or Reject buttons on the review tab in the Ribbon.

    If you would like more information on

    Track Changes or are using an older version of Word, follow this link for Microsoft's guide to Track Changes.

    9. Start your marketing

    When? When your copyeditor uploads their edited manuscript, triggering the beginning of the Final Copyedit workflow section.
    • Make sure to read our Introduction to Marketing.
    • When you submitted your proposal, you will have offered us a Marketing Plan. Now write the latest, final version of your plan on Promotional Plans on your Marketing page. Outline in bullets what you will do to promote your book. Don't forget to add your social media numbers!
    • Under a separate title, add Priorities for in-house PR. Detail the most important activities that you believe your in-house publicist should do to promote your book.
    • Check whether your Keywords are the best they can be. The right words and phrases in your title, subtitle, blurb and Keyword box (on your Marketing page) greatly increase your visibility on search engines such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and LibraryThing. .
    • Write down 8–10 interview talking points for your publicist to use in the promotion of your book. Interview talking points focus on the most interesting content in your book that you can share in an interview. Each point should be only a few sentences long. This list is used to hook the interviewer into having you as a guest. Upload your interview talking points as a Microsoft Word doc to the Articles section of the Publicity box on your Marketing page.
    • Read about the other ways you can support your publicist.
    • As you execute your plan, write each completed activity in your Marketing Page as Marketing Activities.

    Organising an event and need printed books? Let us know as early as possible!

    10. Check your back-cover copy

    When? When you complete the Final Copyedit workflow section.

    Check your back-cover copy. You can find this at the top of your Production page. Everything there should be designed to make the potential reader want to open up the book.

    11. Check your Publication Date

    When? As soon as you receive the email telling you it has been scheduled.

    Your publication date will be set when your Proofs and Cover workflow sections are approved and confirmed by the Editorial Manager. We set the publication date for 10 full months later (e.g., the info for a title finishing production by 21 January 2024 will go out in February 2024 for a December 2025 release). We have a nominal publishing date of the last Tuesday in each month (except December, when it is the second Tuesday), and we aim for the same publication date for ebook and paperback.

    Please note that this time may be slightly extended depending on where we are in the annual buying cycle. .

    In practice your book won't come out on the same day everywhere.

    • To meet deadlines for our US distributor's sales catalogues, we put your publication date forward to the 1st of the following month. For example, if your publication date in the CI database is 29 November, it will be listed in NBN as 1 December.
    • Amazon US publication date is also the first of the following month. The Amazon UK data feed accepts two dates: availability and publication, but Amazon US accepts only one. To align the policy of making books available to trade and readers after they reach distributor warehouses, we have to make the publication date the first of the month on Amazon US.
    • We cannot coordinate printings in the US and UK and other countries to arrive at the warehouse exactly at the same time. There are large variations in how long it takes your book to get from the printer to various particular distributors and shops. For example, books can sometimes take several weeks to get from our distributor NBN on the East Coast through customs at the border and to Vancouver on the West Coast, if, as is usual, the ordering book store has requested lowest-cost delivery. This means that you may see different release dates appear in different accounts. Amazon, for instance, will show the book as published only after they receive the stock. This is something we have no control over.
    • If you see your ebook released on a slightly different day from your official publication date, don’t worry. The ebook goes for conversion a month or so before the publication date and then it's distributed. Different distributors take varying times to load the ebooks into their system. It will likely not be available on sites like Amazon for pre-order until a few weeks before publication.

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