There is a lot to be said about readers. Those who persist in an understated medium, an art form that may appear to be losing a battle with the distractions of electronic amusement. It is a comforting image: a young person curled up in a chair by the window, sunlight streaming in and illuminating the pages of the book clutched in eager hands. The image celebrates those whose imaginations are still active enough to be able to derive pleasure from words woven to educate, to provoke, or to entertain. That said, I have discovered a new appreciation for those who make books. While I highly uphold writers on a pedestal, people possessing a gift and a passion for stringing together words and birthing new ideas, new worlds, new people; I am speaking instead about book producers. As an intern, my new-found admiration is for book publishers.
Publishers must assay every finite detail of book production to an exact precision. Copy editors comb through each word printed, checking for clarity in word choice, spelling, grammar, and punctuation — just to name a few. It is the editor’s job to examine the hundreds of pages of text and alter the work to perfection. Any overlooked detail, such as a missing apostrophe or a misplaced comma can result in having to re-print an entire publication. Publishers dwell on details: Is the correct spelling bedtime or bed time? Do readers prefer President’s Day or Presidents Day? While such specifics may seem irrelevant, the minor details lend themselves to clarity. Publishing editors serve to further the author’s purpose: to be read and understood.
Readability is not limited to word choice and punctuation. For book developers, much planning goes into book layout, page design, cover arrangement, and font choice. Editors and graphic designers are responsible for creating easily viewed pages, eye catching and attractive. It is not simply the context of the written word, but the look as well. Design teams work to present the work so it is appealing. Book layout includes deciding chapter headings, line spacing and paragraph alignment. Cover design encompasses color choices, typography and any accompanying art. Publishing firms have staff dedicated to ensuring the book is visually arresting and consistent.
Beyond the many intricacies involved with the physical book itself, the duties of publishers incorporate marketing and promotion of the work as well. To create awareness and arouse interest, publishers must adopt the role of public relations specialists. Book signings, author appearances, advertisements and media kits all must be developed to encourage sales. The publisher’s abilities prove necessary in budgeting, managing book orders and production. Once again, the publisher must act as the link between the author’s words and the public.
Working at a smaller firm, I’ve witnessed the talents of the five-person staff in all aforementioned areas. TSTC Publishing is a busy group of editors, graphic designers, PR specialists, artists, event planners, financial coordinators, booksellers and writers themselves. The lines between individual titles and role specifics blur, as each member of the TSTC Publishing team employs all talents to ensure readers the best possible product.
I believe the written word is the most powerful form of communication. Books serve to inspire action, to empower minds and to stimulate change. While there is much regard to the readers who choose to indulge in a dwindling art form, and there is much esteem to be awarded to literature’s craftsmen who pen thoughts, ideas, and stories, there is also much gratitude due to the publishers of the works. Words are written to be read. Without the middle man, the eyes of the reader would never be gifted to encounter the words of the writer.