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Last Updated: Thursday September 29 2005 14:56 GMT

Guide: How books get published

Books in a bookshop
How does a book actually make it from the pen of the writer to the bookshop?

Here's what happens to every book you read:

  • When the manuscript is finished, the author works with an editor to make sure the book all makes sense and to spot and take out factual errors.

  • The cover artist works with the author and the editor to design and draw the cover and any other illustrations. The cover should be made early on, so it can be used for advertising as soon as possible.

  • Copy editors start working on the manuscript to take out spelling mistakes. This whole process will take a couple of months.

  • Once all this is done, the manuscript is sent to the typesetters, who make a proof, which is like a rough copy.

    Jargon buster
    Manuscript - the original version of the book, typed or handwritten by the author
    Editor - checks the book makes sense
    Copy editor - checks for spelling mistakes
    Typesetters - arrange the words on the page
    Proof - the first printed version of the book

  • The editors and copy editors then read this proof very carefully and remove any mistakes.

  • If necessary, it will go back to the typesetters for more changes to be made, and these proofs will be checked until the final version is flawless. The author also checks the book at each stage. This part of the process takes a couple of months.

  • When everything's ready, the final version of the book will go to the printers, along with any pictures, and will be scanned into a computer.

  • The printing presses then roll off finished copies of the book, which all need to be ready well before the publication date.

  • The cover is then glued onto the pages, which holds the book together.

  • Finally, the finished books are sent to bookshops, where you can pick them up.

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