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Cambridge English / English Language Teaching

5. Production cycle of a book

5.1 Hand over of typescript

Once the editor has received your final typescript they will prepare it for hand over to production. This will include a content edit, copy edit and mark up for styles and artwork etc.

Once the typescript is ready for production a 'hand over' meeting will be held. This is the point where the typescript, artwork brief and instructions are given to the typesetter. If the project is complicated, involving multi-components for example, you may be invited to attend the hand over meeting.

5.2 First proof stage

Once the typescript has gone into production, you cannot expect to see it again until approximately 4 to 6 weeks later. The production department or your editor will send you a schedule once this has been confirmed by the typesetting house and this will tell you when you can expect to receive the first proofs. These proofs contain the text and anything which does not need to be done separately as artwork. Space will be left for artwork. (Very highly illustrated books e.g. Primary course books are the exception to this as they will normally have rough artwork in place at first proof stage.) You will receive direct from the typesetter a set of proofs and possibly the marked typescript (although this usually goes to the editor). A set of proofs will also go to a proof reader at this stage.

This is the stage to read through and make essential corrections, make cuts to the material where there is overmatter and make suggestions to the layout. It is not the stage to make changes to the content unless something does not work. All content changes should have been made with the editor at final typescript stage.

Once you have marked your set of proofs you should either send them or email your list of comments to the editor who will then collate them with the proof reader's comments. The editor may need to come back to you to discuss comments and any issues. Once the editor has collated everyone's comments onto one set of proofs, he or she will then return them to the production department who will, in turn, return them to the typesetter.

5.3 Artwork selection

If the book is to include quite a few illustrations, you would be invited to attend an artwork selection meeting at the return of the first proofs. The purpose of this meeting is to select artwork styles so that the illustrations can be commissioned and rough artwork put in place in the revised proofs.

5.4 Photo selection

The timing of the photo selection meeting depends on the type of book. If it is straightforward the photos could be selected before the final typescript is handed over to production. However, if the project is more complex with large numbers of photos and a lot of text, it is better to wait until after first proof stage so you can see how much text there is on a page and how much space there is for photos.

The photo selection meeting is usually attended by you, the editor and photo researcher. The photo researcher will bring a selection of photos which they have sourced to try and match the photo brief as closely as possible. Your role, with the editor, is to select the most appropriate photos.

5.5 Second page proofs

Approximately a month after returning your first proofs, you will receive second proofs, which should contain all of the suggested amendments from the first proofs. On this second set you should check that all of the changes you suggested have been made and, if there are any new ones, bring them to the attention of your editor. New errors often occur, caused by the knock-on effect of correcting an error in first proofs.

At this stage, other than verifying that previous errors have been corrected, artwork styles need to be checked. Artwork is still likely to be rough artwork. This is usually the last chance you will have to suggest amendments to artwork, as the artist will complete final artwork, ready for placement in final proofs.

The photo researcher and person responsible for permissions will also receive a set of proofs. Second proofs allow them to see that photos / chargeable images are as originally specified.

5.6 Final proofs

By this stage all final artwork and all photos will be in place and very few errors should remain. On this final set of proofs you should check:

  • that corrections marked on the second proofs have been made
  • final artwork against roughs
  • that no text is missing around artwork. NB When scans are dropped in they can often obscure surrounding text

This is the last time that you will see any proofs, although there are further in-house checking stages prior to printing.

5.7 Printing
The files are then handed over from the Production Department to the Digital Services Unit, which ready the files for printing. Printing may occur in Cambridge, or possibly abroad at one of the approved suppliers. From now on the book is out of the hands of your editor and Production will deal with any problems that occur. The next time you see anything, you will receive printed copies of your book.

5.8 Stock delivery

Stock will come into the CUP warehouse approximately 8 weeks after the files were handed over to the Digital Services Unit. They will then be distributed to relevant areas of the world in batches.

5.9 The production cycle of a cassette/audio CD/video

The production cycle of a book is the main focus of the previous text, but the suite of components might also include audio material on CD or cassette or possibly a video.

Audio (and video) components
The production of these will run parallel to book production and, necessarily, they follow a slightly different life cycle. For example the main stages for audio material are:

  • author manuscript
  • edit manuscript
  • record
  • editor receives listening copies and corrects errors (author involvement during and after this stage is unlikely)
  • final master produced
  • master sent for production (together with associated print material)

However, the main difference, in comparison to book production, is that you may like to (or be asked to) attend a recording session.