Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Publishing? Straightforward, right?

When Kelly and I became the proud and humbled owners of BNBS, we had two things on our minds.

  1. Can we do enough with Murielle's company to make her proud?
  2. Publishing can't be that complicated, can it?
Number 1 I'll come back around to. Number 2? Well, let's just say it was an eye-opener!

As a reader and more recently, an author, I never once really gave much thought to how books are published. Certainly, when I was lucky enough to become a published writer, I honestly thought that you could literally do it all yourself (I know self-publishing is doing it yourself, but I'm talking about the typesetting, proofing etc), despite not really knowing what was actually involved.

Not long after everything had been signed, sealed and delivered, we had the opportunity to publish our first book. We would have preferred to have a few months breaking in time rather than a couple of weeks, but gift horse and all that, we thought, 'Bah, how hard can it be?'

Never be so cocky that you think those words are ever appropriate!!!

So, you have a book and are given a set release date for a book launch which is only three weeks away. You realise you need the manuscript proofread, but don't really know anyone as you never used one before (I'll come back to that too!). In a panic, I'm contacting everyone I can find on Facebook to ask if they can proofread a book in about three days (realistically, I now know that is crazy talk, but remember, naive about publishing).

Understandably, everyone I asked said they couldn't for a variety of appropriate reasons. I was lucky enough be given the name of an amazing proofreader who, for an excellent price, would be willing to take up the challenge.

Three days later, it was complete and spot on (to this day, I have never, nor has anyone ever, pointed out a typo or editing/pacing issue so I'll stand by that statement!).

I'm back to reassuring Kelly that it's easy. How hard can it be?

Covers - the original cover was excellent, but due to the fall through of the original publishers, we couldn't use the same cover. A friend of the author's found someone who could do 'the same, but different'; all I had to do was provide him with the trim and spine size.

The what now?

My first foray into actual publishing and someone may as well have spoken Greek to me. What the (insert Malcolm Tucker-esque expletive) was trim size. And how the hell was I supposed to know the size of the spine? 

How could I possibly work that out? 

How did anyone work that out?

Lesson one - many great websites and printers tell you the spine size after you tell them the number of pages in the book (I also learnt that it doesn't mean Word pages, but PDF!). 


Only then I'm told it has to be divisible by two.


"It has to be divisible by two."

"Oh, and the book has to start with an even number."

"Have you ever been beaten repeatedly about the face and neck?" I ask the un-named individual.

I am told he poops me not and that he only speaks the truth. 

I sit there that evening, working out with my hands which page is the odd and even one without page numbers for the first chapter to be on the right-hand side of the book. My hand flips back and forth so quickly, I actually lower the temperature of the room with the draft. 

So, all worked out. Added a page with a promotion on it, shifted a page along and all is well.

Trim size. "How big is the book?"

"Book size. Paperback size."

"They aren't all the same size?"

"I hate you so much right now," in the words of Kelis.

"Seriously, is it S6, B5, A4?"


"Is it wanted the same size as this book?" (mentions other publication)

"YES!! That's the one, that's it. Paperback size."

"Rightttt, whatever. Anyway, that's S6 - 125 x 195mm."


So, I now have the cover (trim!!!) size and the spine size. Sorted.

"Does it need bleed?"

"I hate you... what the (Malcolm Tucker expletive) is bleed?"

"The area that will be cut off during the printing process. Don't have anything text or illustrations wise to close to the edge of the cover or you will lose it."  

"Would you like to know what you are going to lose shortly?"

Little bit of Googling and I have it all sorted. Nothing in the 'bleed' area.

Off to print!!! 

"Have you had it typeset?"


"Typeset? A typesetter will check for a selection of appropriate fonts in different sizes and styles, look at paragraph and character styles, consider hyphenation, character spacing (kerning) and line spacing (leading), allow for fine adjustments to how much space an amount of text actually fills; and look for widows and orphans."

"Your wife is about to become a widow and your children orphans... can't I just do it?"


"Erm, no. Here is a guy."

Mucho questions and a few days later, sorted.

Off to print!!

"Have you had it converted for an e-book?"

"What now? The Kindle automatically does that, right?"

"Nope. Someone or software has to do it."

Secret phone call - "Hi. I've heard you do... favours for people? I have someone I want taken out.
Money, I'll sell my soul, just make it painful."

Company contacted - book converted (expensive before we knew better!). Sorted.

Off to print?

"They go to Poland, so it'll take about two weeks."

The book launch is in six days.

Secret phone call - "Hi. We spoke the other day. That job? Bump the deadline forward. I want them
taken out... tonight!"

Mucho begging and pleading to the printers about our complete newbie-ness and he says he will have
his staff work overnight to have them all printed (guilt level up, loading now).

Long story short... well, not that short, but in the end, books arrived and the book launch was a great
success. The author is very happy with his books. 

Kelly and I then spent the next year learning as much as we could about running a publishing house -
CYMK, AMS, Facebook ads, social media in general, warehouse providers, press releases, cover 
reveals, blogging, library deposits, book depositories, ISBN's, keywords, reviewing... everything we
could and more.

We inherited many amazing authors with Live It and BNBS; we have, sadly, lost a few. Some didn't 
agree with the direction we wished to take, others had perhaps unrealistic expectations (we are not one
of the big 6. We work hard to make you money, but cannot and never promise a number one bestselling 
book in Waterstones or thousands of book sales... one day though Rodders. One day...)

But after learning all we could that first year (and me, fortunately, finding lots of time on my hands!!!
(That's a completely different and fascinating story that will one day you will be able to be read 
about!!), this year we have seen the fruits of our labour (cliche) beginning to pay off.

One of the first things we ever promised was that we would do our best, always, to do all we could for
our authors, historic and new. We have so many fantastic books yet to come and promotions to 
highlight all the great books which have gone before. 

Big things are coming and I don't just mean Project Dinosaur or the new Jurassic World movie. 

Wishing you a lovely evening reading, writing and dreaming.


David and Kelly 


  1. Enjoyed that! I feel like I may have experienced the majority or your suffering David. (A knowing smile invades my face.) Bob

    1. Not at all, Bob. Everyone has taught us so much and was so patient with us. We shall never forget it.