How a Book is Made

There are many different roles involved in bringing a book to life. Unless you have self-published (in which case, you might wear all of the following hats yourself!), then an author may be supported by any or all of the following people to get their book from brain to shelf:

  • Commissioning or acquisitions editor
  • Literary agent
  • Development editor
  • Editorial assistant
  • Publisher
  • Contract administrator
  • Production editor or project manager
  • Copy editor
  • Proofreader
  • Indexer
  • Illustrator
  • Typesetter
  • Cover designer
  • Rights manager
  • Sales representative
  • Finance administrator

For the vast majority of publishing houses, every book really is a team effort!

The Book Production Process

This article focuses on one particular stage of a book’s lifecycle and the roles involved in that stage: the book production process. This is the process by which a book gets from a bunch of edited Word documents to an actual book that you can download onto your Kindle or hold in your hands.

Every publishing house will do things slightly differently, but here is how things work at Lived Places
Publishing (LPP).

  1. Pre-editing
  2. Copy-editing 
  3. Typesetting
  4. Proofreading
  5. Publication


This is where the completed Word documents get checked over for readiness to enter the rest of the production process. The finished pages will be checked for completeness (have you remembered to include a dedication? Does chapter 3 follow chapter 2?) and for basic consistency. All the extra bits a book needs will be added here – like the copyright statement, and the title page.
At this stage, we usually prompt LPP authors to be absolutely sure they have made all the revisions they want or need to, and double checked their marketing copy for accuracy now that the book is written. Further changes won‘t be possible after this point – the writing work is finished.


The tidied-up pages are now sent to a professional copy editor who will check them carefully for consistency and house style. While earlier editors might have looked at the content and the big picture of the writing – does it all make sense? Does the writing flow? Are the language choices appropriate for the audience? – a copy editor looks only at the finer detail. They will check for accuracy in spelling and punctuation, and make sure that “organiz(s)ation” is spelled the same way throughout the whole book. They will make sure that any referencing is consistent and do some basic sense checks on the accuracy. Usually, the result of a good copy-edit is a list of queries for the author to respond to. Copy-edit queries might be anything from: do you prefer to use spaced N dashes or unspaced M dashes? to Should Black be capitalised in this sentence? and anything in between.


Now the pages are properly complete, checked, tidied up, and polished, it is time to turn them from Word files into something else. At a far cry from the original manual process (when printers would literally “set” cast iron “type” letters into frames of the printing press), LPP use an automated platform called Redshift for this step. The finished pages are fed into the software, which uses the templated LPP text design to produce a set of PDF first proofs – the first glimpse of how the finished book will look!


These proofs now need to be checked. At LPP, they are sent both to the author and to a professional proofreader. This step is to check for any small errors that might have crept in during the typesetting process, and ensure the final book is polished and bug-free.


Once everyone is satisfied that the proofs are correct, clean, and ready to print – it’s off to press we go! At LPP, this is again handled by the Redshift platform, which we use to generate all of our book covers, the PDF ebook files, the EPUB3 accessible ebook files, and the print-ready PDF files. The “finals” as they are called are then uploaded to our various distribution platforms, including the printers, ready to be sent worldwide on publication day. A book is born!

Tips for a Smooth Book Production Process

Here are our top tips for a smooth book production process for authors:

  • Remember that the book production process is not meant for last-minute edits. As tough as it can be to let go of a creative project and call it “finished”, your book really does need to be finished before it enters production. Mistakes can be fixed, but adding new text, changing the order of things, or “tweaking” whole paragraphs can be a much bigger problem than it might seem. Worst case scenario: late revisions can cause your book to miss its publishing date.
  • The writing is finished, but your work’s not done! Please be ready to promptly and clearly respond to the copy-editor, project manager, proofreader, and so on. You definitely deserve a small break after finishing a whole book – but please don’t go fully incommunicado!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions or raise issues. This process is all about refining your book, making it the best it can be; and you are the person who knows your book best, after all. 


To find out more about institutional access to Lived Places Publishing collections, please contact us

To submit a proposal and pitch to become a Lived Places author, please see our Call for Authors.

Image credit: Image used under the Pixabay License 


Written by: Rebecca

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