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The Book Lover’s Guide to Publishing Part #1: Publishing Ephemera

Jul 20, 2017 Behind the Scenes

Welcome to Penguin Random House’s “The Book Lover’s Guide to Publishing” blog series! Over the next few weeks, we will be interviewing PRH employees from various departments to get the inside scoop on their jobs and how they help create the books you love. Read below for the answers to your most pressing publishing  questions!

How many books does Penguin Random House publish each year?

Penguin Random House publishes over 70,000 digital and 15,000 print books each year. Although these official copies line bookshelves across the globe, they aren’t the only versions to exist. Before the final copies are printed, there are ARCs (Advanced Reading Copy or Advanced Readers Copy), galleys, and RBMs (Reformatted Bound Manuscripts).

What is an ARC?

An ARC is “created using the first pass of the book, which has been copyedited and flowed into a text design by the typesetter. The cover features the jacket art and often has a fully designed spine and verso; it may also include the same lamination and/or effects that are planned for the final cover/jacket. The text and covers are often printed offset, by the same printers who will produce the final books and covers/jackets”  (Melissa Solis, Managing Editorial).

What is a galley?

Galleys are similar to an ARC, but “a little less fancy—i.e., no special cover effects and a plain spine and verso. It is still created from the first pass, which has been copyedited and designed. Galleys are produced at a digital printer (versus offset) due to lower print quantities” (Melissa Solis, Managing Editorial).

What is a RBM?

A RBM differs from an ARC and a galley because it’s “an uncopyedited and undesigned manuscript that is bound for reviewers and/or for early reads to get people a sneak peek of the book. Editors will often use bound manuscripts to solicit blurbs for the final book jacket. Bound manuscripts are made early in the process, before a cover is designed and sometimes even before a title has launched to our sales team” (Melissa Solis, Managing Editorial).

So how do books actually get from the printer to bookstores?

Once a book has made it through the production department and has been copyedited and proofread, it is ready to be printed in its final form. PRH printers “deliver new books to one of our two warehouses about four weeks before a book’s on-sale date. Meanwhile, we receive sales orders from booksellers, distributors, and consumers. Once a sales order is received, a request is sent to our distribution center to ‘pick and pack’ the books. Books are then shipped to the designated bookstore/customer. Alternatively, books can be sent directly to booksellers from our printers or sent to one of our partner warehouses for faster distribution to customers in certain regions” (Chelsea Vaughn, Publishing Operations).

What’s the difference between advertising and publicity?

As the publication date for a book nears, the marketing and publicity departments work full-force getting the word out and generating attention for the book so that readers will become interested in buying and reading it. The biggest difference between the two is that “advertising is paid for, whereas publicity is not. Our publicists pitch various media outlets with the authors/titles that they think the outlets would find interesting for their own readers or viewers and hope that the outlets will choose to feature the author and/or title. Our marketers, however, pay for advertising placements based on various factors and can guarantee a placement as long as we can pay for the cost” (Christine Hung, Advertising).

What determines where an author goes on tour?

To help generate attention for his or her book, an author will usually go on tour. Although there are many factors that go into deciding where an author should tour, it is ultimately up to the publicity and sales teams who “work together to gather event requests from stores across the country and also consider places where the author has a personal connection, or they think the book will have special appeal. Then with this at hand, they sit down with a map of the USA, Google Flights, a blank calendar, and one million cups of coffee and draft out a dream tour to hit as many of these stores and markets as possible, without exhausting the book’s budget…or the author!” (Elizabeth Hohenadel, Publicity)

What are the various literary awards that an author can win?

After a book has been published, it can be eligible to win a multitude of literary awards. These awards are “as vast and unique as books themselves. Along with the big national awards that any reader would have heard of, like the Nobel Prize or the Pulitzer, there are hundreds of other awards in a variety of categories. There are awards based on genre, like the Edgars for mysteries or the Hugos for sci-fi. There are awards based on age, like the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, which goes to writers under 35 or the Passager Awards for writers over 50. There are awards given based on gender, on sexual orientation, on ethnic and religious background, on the state where you were born, the number of books previously published, the amount of pets you have. OK that last one was a joke, but you get the drift, it’s a big world out there for literary awards!” (Elizabeth Hohenadel, Publicity)

A Huge thank you to all of our employees who took the time to be interviewed. We hope their answers have helped you better understand the publishing process!

Check back soon for another installment of The Book Lover’s Guide to Publishing.

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