Once the proposal is accepted, the publisher will offer the contract to the author. The contract will have a formal and finalized schedule of the various stages of the book publication from manuscript submission till the launch of the book. Once the contract is signed, the author starts working on the book.
After the publisher agrees to publish the book, based on the proposal review, either the publisher or the acquisitions editor will ask for a schedule—a detailed timetable of when the book will be completed. Sometimes, the publisher will only ask for a date by which the completed manuscript could be given. But most professional publishing houses will ask for a chapter-wise or section-wise schedule for the book. This is to facilitate the technical review of the book.
The technical reviewer will be given one chapter at a time or a few chapters together for review. The author will be given the reviewed chapters with the technical reviewer’s comments and suggestions. The author also must answer the reviewer’s queries, clarify various points raised, and justify her position on what she has written. She also should revise and rewrite the portions, according to the reviewer’s suggestions, where she feels the reviewer is right.
If the author feels that the reviewer is wrong and what she has written is right, then she must convince the reviewer. But here the onus of convincing that she is right is on the author and if she fails to convince the reviewer, then she will have to make the changes as recommended by the reviewer. Here a word of caution, many technical reviewers intentionally point out something that the author has written as wrong when they perfectly know that the author is right. This is done to test the author’s confidence in what she has written and how she would handle such situations. So as an author, don’t hesitate to speak your mind—if you know that what you have written is right and the reviewer is wrong, do say so. Once the initial testing phase is over and if the author has handled the situation diplomatically while making her point, then the author-reviewer relationship will be smooth which will definitely help in improving the quality of the book and also make the writing process a lot stress free.
While giving the schedule for the manuscript, the author should take into consideration the time she has to spend on answering the reviewer’s queries and making the modifications suggested. It is a good policy to add some cushion for any contingencies that might crop up during the writing process, as they definitely will.
Once a satisfactory manuscript delivery schedule is given, the publisher would add the time taken for copyediting, typesetting, proofreading, and indexing to formalize the final schedule. Sometimes the task of preparing the index also has to be done by the author. The author first has to approve the changes in copyedited document. Here the author has the final say in what should be corrected and what should be retained. Be very careful while reviewing the copyedited manuscript as once you approve it and the typesetting is done, then making changes is very difficult and expensive. So do this review taking your time and checking and double-checking everything.
After the copyedited manuscript is returned to the publisher, it will be typeset and the typeset pages (page proofs) will be sent to the author for the final review. During this time only very minimal changes are allowed, as making too many changes will affect the pagination (or page numbering).
As mentioned earlier, many publishers insist that the author prepares the index of the book. The other alternative is to get the index prepared by a professional indexer and deducting the indexing costs from the author’s royalty. If the author is preparing the index, she should allocate time for that when he receives the page proofs. Indexing is a monotonous and time consuming job, but if the author takes a little effort to learn the indexing process she can do it without any problem. In the chapter on indexing, I will explain a quick and efficient way of developing a professional index, without too much strain and pain.
[Note: This is the first draft of the book. I would require your comments, suggestions and feedback to make the book more useful, interesting, and as error free as possible. Please send your comments, suggestions and feedback to me.]