Inside Inside Book Publishing

Commissioning and Developing Inside Book Publishing - By Aileen Story

Starting Out in February 2006, when the 4th edition had just been commissioned by my predecessor, Katrina Chandler. It was a great pleasure to be able to work on reinventing such a classic. I, like most of my colleagues, had read one of the previous editions of this clear introduction to the world of publishing when I started and it had helped me to understand the workings of the various departments and the wider business of publishing, whether it be commercial, academic, educational or professional. I knew the book well, but did not know so much about the planned reforms, so I decided to start by looking again at the project passport Katrina had created and presented at the publishing meeting. The Project Passport is our proposal for the book project and includes details of the format, extent, planned print run and price, along with market research, competition, related title sales and other necessary information.

Project Passport 1
Project Passport 1
Project Passport 2
Project Passport 2

Proposal Meetings and Project Passports

Whenever we do a new edition at Routledge, we start by sending out questionnaires to ask people what they think of the current book and what improvements in content, format or style they suggest. You can see an example of our questionnaires below:

Questionnaire 1
Questionnaire Example 1
Questionnaire 2
Questionnaire Example 2
Questionnaire 3
Questionnaire Example 3
Questionnaire 4
Questionnaire Example 4
Questionnaire 5
Questionnaire Example 5

When this data has been collected, the Editor (or Associate Editor/Development Editor/Senior Editor or Publisher) reads through the reports and sends them to the authors for them to read also. The authors and Editor then come up with a plan of revisions for the new edition. Sometimes a fully revised proposal is sent in and then this can be further reviewed. Once it has been decided how to go ahead, the Editor will prepare his/her own proposal to present at the next available publishing meeting. On our current system at Routledge, we create a Project Passport, a costing, and any additional materials. The Project Passport is our proposal for the book. You will have seen an example of our costing in Inside Book Publishing with a description of the various targets and definitions of the terms. The Project Passports for each meeting (run weekly) are put into a central folder that everyone in the UK and US offices can access. Passports are added two weeks before the meeting date to allow time for everyone to read them and for Marketing to come up with a Marketing Plan for the book in the UK and US. The meetings are held in meeting rooms in the NY and Milton Park, UK offices, which are linked by satellite conferencing. The Editor will then present his/her proposal for the book project at the meeting. Anyone internally can attend the meetings and everyone has an equal chance to comment or ask questions about the proposal. Sometimes quite a debate ensues! As the book had already been approved, I took over from contract stage.

Developing the pedagogy

As you may have noticed from the Project Passport above, the format originally proposed for the book was Royal Octavo, which is a step up from the third edition which had been published in Demy Octavo. Not long after getting started on the project and meeting Giles and Angus ‘virtually’, I went to meet Angus and his department at Oxford Brookes University. After talking about the format there, and talking further with Giles and Angus, we all agreed that Pinched Crown would be the best format as it allowed us a margin column for key terms, quotes, or other items we wished to add outside of the main text. I decided that we would need a new text design to enhance this edition, so I sent some examples of some existing textbook designs to Giles and Angus so we could pick and choose the type of features we wanted before I filled out the text design brief and gave this to Sue Dixon, Senior Production Editor for the book. We decided we wanted boxes with curved corners that weren’t shaded, Scala serif font for the main text and Scala sans for the boxes. We also wanted new icons for the items such as further reading, and you can see more about the development of the final design and the icons in David Williams’s piece on the next tab. Finally, to break up the text and to add some visual interest, Angus suggested commissioning some cartoons from John Taylor. These cartoons are absolutely wonderful and I was very pleased that Angus introduced John’s work to me.

Working on the cover design

Before the book went into production, we also started work on the cover design. I asked Giles and Angus if they had a preference and they requested a picture of someone reading a book (a novel), but they wished only to see the hands and the book. I briefed our designer, Asha Pearse, who came up with five initial concepts. The initial concepts can be viewed below:

Cover Concept 1
Cover Concept 1
Cover Concept 2
Cover Concept 2
Cover Concept 3
Cover Concept 3
Cover Concept 4
Cover Concept 4
Cover Concept 5
Cover Concept 5

All images are reproduced with kind permission from Getty Images. Our favourite of these was the second one as it has such a warm colour and tone, however, Giles and Angus clarified that they wanted a modern paperback, and they wanted to give the impression of the pleasure of reading. We were unable to create a good replica of the warmth and colour of this image using a paperback, and so it was rejected. We then went through quite a few more designs before we finally agreed to the final image for the cover design. The image is from a collection called Nordic Photos, and was supplied by Getty Images.

Aileen Storry
Associate Editor, Media and Cultural Studies

Designing Inside Book Publishing by David Williams

The design of the book was rethought for the fourth edition, and carried through into the fifth edition and other Routledge titles such as Inside Magazine Publishing. Here David Williams writes about his creation of the new look:

Angus and Giles asked me to write something about how we all – publisher (editorial and production), authors, designer and copy-editor – arrived at the final result in the book as published. Turning a typescript into the inherently intractable codex (paged) form that is communicative, commercial and beautiful is a complex and skilled job that has been – with this book – particularly enjoyable and satisfying.

First of all we received a brief from Sue Dixon in the Production department at Taylor & Francis. We were delighted to get the commission because in my company, The Running Head Limited, we have a special interest in books about books. We are what some people call project managers, which in our case means we in-house copy-edit, design, typeset and deal with the authors at every stage between approved typescript and PDF files ready for printing. We like to think this integrated and holistic approach gives our work more creative spark than the usual atomized division of labour into separate stages.

Sue had told us that T&F wanted to publish to a university/postgraduate-level textbook market. Following a style volume, Introducing Sociolinguistics, the layout was to have two columns, plus ‘logos’ and ‘icons’ to give visual variety and help readers browse or skim read different kinds of topics in boxes.

In-house in Cambridge I decided (along with colleagues Carole Drummond and Kit Scorah) that we were going to show off a bit, not just because it was a chance to promote the company to potential customers – once they had landed their jobs in publishing – but because it was genuinely appropriate for the book. I thought that readers would be keenly interested in how publishers actually do what Angus and Giles say they do.

The first problem was that the first run-in of the typescript into rough pages made well over 350 pages – the brief said 224. My first thought was that the space reserved solely for the ‘sidebars’ column in the finished book was just too generous. On my own initiative, to reduce empty space I then did a layout with two columns of equal width, to bring the extent down to about 256 pages. T&F decided to stick with their original brief and allow 320 pages instead.

By now sample pages were looking fairly settled, though we had not yet put much thought into the logos or icons – the ‘Web resources’ logo was inane clipart from the web, and all the topic boxes just had a grey blob. (I am using ‘logo’ to refer to the Now read this/Sources/Web resources lists, and ‘icon’ for the Expert/Skills/Topic boxes.)

Icons used in the book - This shows you the range of icons from which the final ones were selected
This shows you the range of icons from which the final ones were selected
Logos used in the book - Used in the creation of the logos in the book
Used in the creation of the logos in the book
Logos used in the book - Used in the creation of the logos in the book
Used in the creation of the logos in the book
Logos used in the book - Two of the final woodblocks used in the book
Two of the final woodblocks used in the book

Sue had briefed us to use Scala, as suggested by Angus. Scala has a stylish classic but contemporary look with quite thick serifs that print well. It also has an attractive sans variant, which gives lots of options where there are boxes, so they are differentiated but still part of a unity.

As Angus and Giles say in the book, the skill of publishing is to add value – I am proud that we have been able to help make the book a textbook example of itself.

David Williams
Managing Director, The Running Head Limited

About the Authors

Giles Clark, with a family background in publishing, and educated at University College London, worked at The Open University UK, where he was the Copublishing Adviser. He organized copublication arrangements between the University and a wide range of publishers from small to large, across most academic disciplines. The partnerships forged with commercial publishers extend the university’s readership internationally, reduce its costs and give it entrepreneurial income. He now chairs the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust in Berkhamsted, serves on other charities and works on business ventures.

Angus Phillips is Director of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies at Oxford Brookes University. He has degrees from Oxford and Warwick Universities, and many years’ experience in the publishing industry including running a trade and reference list at Oxford University Press. He has acted as consultant to a variety of publishing companies, and trained publishing professionals from the UK and overseas in editorial, marketing and management. He is the author of Turning the Page: The evolution of the book (Routledge, 2014), and the editor, with Bill Cope, of The Future of the Book in the Digital Age (2006) and The Future of the Academic Journal (second edition, 2014). He is the editor of the premier publishing journal Logos.


"the definitive text for all who need to learn about the publishing industry"

Publishing Training Centre

"an excellent book ... I recommend this book to everyone"

Gillian Clarke, Editing Matters, magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders

"a crucial title if you are looking to enter the industry"

Suzanne Collier,

"seen as the definitive book about the industry, which is used as a recommended textbook on a number of publishing courses. It will help you understand how the industry works and the responsibilities of each department or sector."

Society of Young Publishers

"Unless you can confidently claim to have a well-rounded understanding of publishing, this is a great book for when you want to check what a bit of jargon means, or beef up the financial case for a marketing idea by refreshing your memory of how a book's P&L is calculated. Fabulous to have as a shelf reference whatever your department."

Rachel Maund, Marketability

"an excellent introduction to anyone with a professional interest in publishing. It is the most clear and specific guide to publishing I have ever read. Although it focuses on British publishing for its examples, any reader would get a good grounding in what publishing is all about, with a lot of useful detail about every aspect of the business. It provides a comprehensive overview and answers so many questions about why publishing works the way it does. No writer equipped with this book need ever feel like an ignorant outsider again."

Chris Holifield, Writers Services

"approachable and entertaining as well as highly informative. No one embarking on a career in publishing should fail to read it - and even those with a few years' experience will find useful things in it."

Nicholas Jones, Strathmore Publishing

"a mainstay adoption on publishing courses throughout the UK and abroad. ... No matter your age Inside Book Publishing makes for a pleasant reading experience.  ... For those entering this culturally and intellectually rewarding industry, this 4th edition should prove to be as useful an investment in a professional capacity as it is in an academic one."

Jason Mitchell, InPrint

'an excellent introduction to the subject, managing to be both comprehensive and concise. ... worth reading for budding authors and publishers alike ... There are shelves of books available on the subject of publishing (and in particular self-publishing), but I think it’s worth reading something that takes a serious-minded, academic approach to the core of the subject, and this book fills that role perfectly."

The Fiction Desk

"the text for many publishing courses and to where one directs all those enquirers keen to get into publishing. Routledge have completely redesigned the book and made it a real joy to look at and use."

Publishers Association Bulletin

"at its best when talking about the internet and the complexities of publishing and controlling intellectual property in a digital age ... well-worth reading as an overview of the global industry and publishing process."

Thomas Woll, Publishing Research Quarterly

"a publishing textbook which punches through all the competition ... In short, this volume merits the accolade of being "essential”: anyone who wants to get a good grip on the way publishing works should read it. New students following publishing courses will find the balance of practical advice and academic rigour perfect for underpinning classroom sessions, and those beginning a career in the industry will do well to keep a copy at hand as a quick reference guide."

Samantha Rayner, BookBrunch

"This is one of the best and most comprehensive overviews of the publishing and book industry currently on the market ... One of my new MA Publishing students refers to this book as her "bible" and carries it around with her at all times"

Debbie Williams, Logos.