Book Publishing Operations: Consultants & Operational Analysis

28 Apr

Now that the semester is over—with the exception of putting the final touches on Karen Mitchell Smith’s Taking Charge: Your Education, Your Career, Your Life—the summer book orders are filled, and we have no interns for the next couple of weeks, the pace and atmosphere has certainly quieted down.

But, not too much. Currently, now that the letter of agreement has been signed and terms of confidentiality have been squared away, we’ve been (and still are) getting ready for a two-day site visit next week from a publishing consultant we’ve hired. Finally, we’ll have an outside professional evaluate our operation from top to bottom—contracts, financials, workflow, software, personnel, marketing, distribution, and the rest of the whole nine yards—to calculate our progress against standard publishing industry benchmarks and make recommendations for the future.

As I’ve been telling folks recently (and have been thinking about even longer) we’re at that point where to best make those big decisions to chart our course over the next 2-3 years we need more input than just scouring books and Web sites alone. I’ll have more to say about this over the course of the next six weeks as the whole process plays out, but I did want to provide a list of the preliminary materials we were asked to provide up front so anyone can get an idea of what’s being looked and at what depth:

  1. A P&L (profit and loss) for the publishing business for 2006, 2007, and 2008 YTD.
  2. A balance sheet for the same time periods
  3. An organizational chart with job descriptions for all employees
  4. An author contract
  5. Total sales by title, units sold in 2006, 2007, and 2008 YTD
  6. Total sales for title and dollars in 2006, 2007, and 2008 YTD
  7. Total sales by account in 2006, 2007, and 2008 YTD
  8. Editorial schedules for 2007, 2008, and the future
  9. Production schedules for 2007, 2008, and the future
  10. Marketing schedules
  11. Catalogs for 2006, 2007, 2008
  12. Marketing pieces
  13. Title fact sheets and/or sell sheets

Already this has been quite the learning process as we’ve pulled all of this information together. In particular, Melanie and I have discovered that we haven’t beebn taking advantage of even close to all the capabilities that QuickBooks has for record keeping and report generation. Figuring that out alone has given us—that is, Melanie—more than enough to do over the next few weeks reconfiguring those files to streamline our financials.


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