Producing a book from a manuscript can take anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Important milestones (e.g. delivery of final manuscript) will be written into the publication contract, and meeting deadlines is crucial to the successful publication of your book. This section covers:
- Peer Review
- Copy Editing and Proofs
- Production - Print & E-Books
During the peer review process, scholars in your field will read and comment on your work. If the publisher practices “single blind review,” the reviewers will be given your name, but you will not know their names; if “double blind review” is practiced, your name and identifying details will be hidden from the reviewers.
The goal of peer review is to give you and your publisher thoughtful and considered feedback on your work before it is published. Once the peer review is complete, your editor will discuss the questions and comments reviewers have about your manuscript, and suggest revisions of your work accordingly. After receiving your revisions, the editor may send the manuscript back to the original reviewers to ensure their concerns have been addressed, and/or may send the manuscript out to additional reviewers for feedback. Manuscripts may go out for review 2, 3, or 4 times before publication depending on the publisher and the subject and quality of your manuscript.
Peer review has been under increased scrutiny in the scientific community and new models of review, such as post-publication and open review, are being considered. Despite the concerns and criticisms raised, peer review remains a critical piece of the scholarly publication process.
Read more about peer review:
- What is Peer Review? (Elsevier)
- How to Conduct a Review (Elsevier)
- Peer Review Innovations Aiming to Support Science and Reward Reviewers (Elsevier)
- Peer Review Debate (a collection of 22 articles published in Nature)
- Journal Publishers Rethink a Research Mainstay: Peer Review (Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 11, 2015)
- Peer Review Week: A Celebration! (Scholarly Kitchen, Sept. 10, 2015)
Copy Editing and Proofs
After the publisher receives the final version of your manuscript, they will send it to a copy editor, an experienced editor who may be an in-house employee or a freelance consultant.The copy editor will check the grammar and note any inconsistencies (e.g., a source was cited in the main text but a corresponding entry is missing in the bibliography). If the press has a “house style,” the copy editor will suggest stylistic changes to bring your manuscript into conformity, but it’s uncommon for a copy editor to do significant rewriting. Copy editors also do not fact-check or review the manuscript for content errors.
During copy editing, you can help your editor out by proactively working on the “front matter” -- acknowledgements, list of illustrations, etc. -- and double-checking your permissions to use any figures, illustrations, or extensive quotes from the appropriate rights holders.
Proofs (also called “galleys”) are produced when the copy-edited manuscript is typeset and laid out as the book will be printed. You will be sent a copy of the proofs for review, generally in PDF. This is your last chance to catch any typos or minor errors that may have gone unnoticed or crept in during the publication process.
Do you want an index to your book? Unlike other aspects of book design, most publishers will expect you to produce the index, because it requires a high degree of familiarity with the content of your work. Indexing usually takes place after the galley proofs have been produced and reviewed, so that page numbers can be cited accurately, but some publishers use software to compile an index during the copy-editing stage.
Below are some resources that will help you compile your index:
- Handbook of Indexing Techniques: A Guide for Beginning Indexers by Linda K. Fetters (LAU e-book)
- Indexes: Chapter 16 from the Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press (LAU e-book)
- Indexing Books by Nancy C. Mulvany (Williams Law Library, 2nd Floor Reference, Z695.9 .M8 2005)
- Books and Articles about indexing from the American Society for Indexing (ASI)
Book Indexing - Chronicle of Higher Education, Lingua Franca blog
- Part 1: Is a Computer the Right Person for the Job?
- Part 2: Infinite Loops and Easter Eggs
- Part 3: Tips for Do-It-Yourselfers
If the thought of compiling an index on your own is mind-numbing, you may wish to hire a professional indexer. You have several options for finding a professional indexer:
- Georgetown faculty can contact Carole Sargent, Director of the Office of Scholarly Publications, for a list of recommended indexers who have experience with indexing university press books.
- Your publisher may have a list of preferred indexers they work with.
- The American Society for Indexing's Indexer Locator can connect you with a freelance professional.
Indexers may charge by the hour, by the page, or by the entry.
Production - Print & E-Books
Once the galley proofs have been reviewed, any last-minute changes have been made, and an index produced, it’s time to go to press. The publisher will mostly likely both print your work and release an electronic version at the same time. Publication of an e-book along with the print edition allows your work to have greater impact by reaching a global audience through e-book platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, Google Play, and others.
You will be supplied with a limited number of free copies, generally specified in your contract, and you can usually order additional copies at a substantial discount. Enjoy opening the package of author copies and seeing your work as a published book!