I started this blog six years ago. I had offered the first few posts to the Book Industry Guild of New York for a blog people were vaguely thinking of setting up. “I’ll do it myself, said the little read hen” when nothing came of that, and so I did. I’m rather glad to be independent of any organization — I don’t have to think of ruffled feelings before I hold forth — well, not too much anyway.
My initial aim (and one or two of the early posts did appear in print in the BIGNY newsletter under the heading “Why is that?”) was to explain things to younger people in the publishing industry. Thus early posts were all rather explanatory of basic jargon: “Bookland EAN and ISBNs”, “Galleys”, “Pica”, “Basis weight”, “Margins”, “Royalties”, “Colophon”. (Here’s a link to the first post.) I quickly added to the mix explaining old things to new people, and unravelling the differences between British and American publishing. I have a bit of a thing about brain science in relation to reading, copyright reform, and the mechanics of writing and getting published, including self publishing. I follow a number of sites which often stimulate ideas for blog posts, and I am grateful to them all for their indispensable efforts.
Writing a blog seems to be the ideal format for me. It feels less formal than print, more provisional, non-authoritative, offering quick gratification and ease of reference to other sources. There’s no compulsion to be consistent or follow any plan. I can flit from flower to flower. I have worked in various parts of the publishing industry: editorial, marketing and sales, and production. My favorite was production; no doubt because the gratification comes quickest there. You get a manuscript, and six to twelve months later (in my early days that would be 12 to 24 months) you get to open that most exciting gift, a box of advance copies hot from the bindery. You’re the first person who gets to look at a brand new book! I still get a thrill even seeing such a carton on a colleague’s desk. The rewards in marketing were measured in months or years, and in editorial in years or decades, as you waited, and waited, and waited for the author finally to sit down and write that brilliant book you’d organized with him/her. I once got to work on the production of a book which had been delivered fifty years after it had been contracted.
Thanks to all of you who read some of what I write. (You may be relieved to know I determined some months ago to do no more than one post a day.) I do like getting comments and would always like more. But luckily I am not writing for the interchange with readers: even if nobody ever looked at Making Book I’d still be writing away at it! But please don’t stop checking it out. There are lots of aspects of publishing that I’m not that familiar with: I’d be happy to consider a guest post on, for instance, preparing manuscripts for the printer in a digital world, or the use of social media to promote books — or any other topic that you may find lacking here.