Production values

Publishing is all about reproducing an author’s intentions with as few errors and as much clarity as possible. What can be overlooked in the rush to press is identifying just what these intentions are, so we ensure that our editing process not only deals with the basics of syntax and style but also takes care to highlight possible ambiguities. Our guiding principle is not to dictate but to draw an author’s attention to a passage that could be improved upon, and then defer to his or her considered judgement. This is a delicate balance, and rewarding (for us and the author!) when we get it right. The extent to which we do get it right can be seen from the endorsements from some of our distinguished authors and clients.

This desire to achieve the highest quality in both editing and typesetting means that we must be flexible in adapting our working methods. Dealing with a single article in a journal is a very different proposition to compiling a 1,000-page book. For short journal articles, proof correction is usually straightforward and involves producing a first proof with queries, which is read and corrected by the author. So long as these revisions are unambiguous and don’t raise any further issues, once all the changes have been made the article is prepared for press and passed back to the client. For a book, the process is more likely to involve multiple proofs, beginning with individual chapters and building to several proofs of the complete work, with as many iterations as we feel is necessary, to satisfy both ourselves and the author.

For publishers, one of our strengths is that we are a one-stop shop: we endeavour to minimize the number of suppliers the publisher has to deal with, for example by handling all the figure work and project management in-house, and by liaising with authors directly we further reduce the publisher’s workload and speed up the production cycle. In contrast, for authors, we recognize that it can be disconcerting for them to see their beloved projects disappear into an inky black hole for months at a time, so we like to keep authors in touch with what’s going on (as well as keeping them on their toes when it comes to the hard graft of proof correction!). Building a personal rapport with our authors, many of whom include us in their published acknowledgements, is an important part of our service, even if it never appears as an item on an invoice.