Weekly Grad School Wrap-Up: Week 5

10/27/2014 09:06:00 PM Amy Ellis 0 Comments

I can't believe that this coming week marks the halfway point in the semester! This semester truly is flying by and I'm not sure if I feel like I'm behind or if I'm doing all right. Grad school is the most surreal, whirlwind experience I think I'll ever have and I'm a bit disappointed that it's only a year long in the UK.

Anyway, onto your week 5 wrap-up!

1. Editorial Management Lesson Week 5: 

This week we discussed Editorial Issues that could come up as we venture into the industry so I'll go out on a limb and say that this week's class was pretty important. So what are some issues that could come up in editorial work? So glad you asked! (I'm going to confess I just lifted this stuff from this week's slides but it's a great list of information!)

There are 3 broad classes of issues:

Markets, Cultures, and Readers - (Sensitivity issues, y'all.) Basically, assessing a book to make sure it's not going to offend someone.

Some possible factors for assessing this: 
  • Ethnicity
  • Dress sensitivities (are you showing a bikini-clad lady in a publication that's going to Saudi Arabia? May want to rethink that one, bro.)
  • Unfamiliar places, objects, animals, etc. (These issues are common in ESL/ELT books. Are you talking about polar bears in a book that is made for teaching children in Africa? Maybe think of an animal more recognizable to them...)
  • Unsuitable humor (no dick jokes for kids, mmkay?)
  • Artwork style not right for market (See dress sensitivities.)


Matters of Perspective - This relates to differences in perspective between the author, editor, publisher, and the intended reader and market.
  • Some examples of perspective problems are assuming that the reader shares the:
  • same time and place
  • same gender
  • same socio-economic background
  • similar degree of ability
  • same views (religious, political.)
Obviously, these can cause a stir if not taken into consideration...

    Legal Ethical and Political - This can include LOADS of things. I'll list a few for you:
    • Blasphemy
    • Obscenity
    • Security and defense (releasing confidential documents)
    • Freedom of information and data protections (and conflicts between them!)
    • Integrity and Association of content 
    • Diversity and access laws
    • Incitement of hatred laws - this applies more to the UK and less to the US because of Freedom of Speech BUT remember that hate speech isn't necessarily good for business: would you publish a book written by the Westboro Baptist Church? Probs not, folks.
    • Defamation - Libel!!
    • Plagiarism - UGH. Seriously, authors, stop doing this shit. 
    Well that got long in a hurry. Just remember to keep stuff like this in mind if you're ever in a position where editorial decisions need to be made. 

    2. Marketing Lesson Week 5: 

    Sales! I used an exclamation because I'm screaming... I've been studying marketing literally all day... I'm tired of it. I'm going to be having a special Marketing post tomorrow since I've got a marketing test on Wednesday (dun, dun, DUN!) and figured doing a little summary for the blog could be an extra way to study.

    Right. There's lots of little bits from this week to summarize so I'll use bullet points again.

    When trying to sell books, we take a "consultative" sales approach. It's basically about building relationships with your clients.

    Sales channels and their offerings:

    Wholesalers: 
    • Offer instant information and online ordering as well as PoD services. 
    • Wholesalers are great for chains, schools, supermarkets, and independent bookstores.
    • Most independent bookstores would rather order from a wholesaler than have to contact each individual publisher to get the book they need.
    Retailers: A retailer can be anything from a major chain such as Barnes and Noble (USA) or Waterstones (UK), small specialist stores (comic book stores, military history shops, etc), or independent bookstores.
    • Chains offer central buying and distribution to readers and centralized promotions and they offer display opportunities for your books (but you may need to give special discounts or pay them depending on the shop for bigger displays.)
    Library suppliers: SERIOUSLY, DO NOT FORGET ABOUT YOUR LIBRARIES!!
    • Library suppliers are great for distributing to public as well as school libraries.
    Supermarkets: You may be thinking "what?!?" but supermarkets have a 12-14% market share of books in the UK.
    • They typically buy from wholesalers but may go through a publisher. 
    • Typically, supermarkets get a 75-80% discount but on large orders that they guarantee not to return. The supermarkets are also prepared to sell books a VERY low prices, even to the point that they are loss leaders.
    Libraries: Yes, we've talked about library suppliers but don't forget that some libraries may not go through suppliers, university libraries especially. These librarians are important so don't forget them and treat them right!
    • Librarians place high priority on on reading lists, academic requests, plus new editions, multiple copies, reference material, and background reading. 
    • How do you treat a librarian? Ask her what she needs! Asking a librarian what she is looking for is the most important step to building a relationship with her. Learn her name and know what kind of materials she is interested in. Don't put her name on lists she hasn't signed up for but if she does sign up for something, you damn well better send her stuff because she is interested. 
    Have you had enough marketing yet? I sure have. 

    Design and Production Lesson Week 5:

    This week in our production seminar we learned about creating price estimates for production costs. It's basically math. But not hard math. Easy math.

    Estimating costs is important because it allows the publisher to calculate profitability of a book, plan cash flow, fix an RRP (Recommended Retail Price), and decide how many copies to print. You will end up doing estimates for a book twice: a pre-contract estimate (rough estimate) and a post-contract estimate. The post-contract estimate MUST be pretty accurate. 

    To estimate costs you need to know a TON of different information: How long is the book (extent)? How many books do you need? Is it 4 color or 1 color (black and white)? What's the budget per book?

    Once these things are determined, you are able to shop around to different presses for prices. Prices can be determined by several factors, including how busy the printer is at that time. Simple supply and demand, really. Each printer will have different costs and you'll have to calculate your fixed costs (one time costs such as typesetting, costs to use the machines [yes, that's a thing], editorial costs, cover design, etc.) and your recurring costs (cost of paper, binding, jacket, printing, etc).

    Notes on calculating costs:
    • You will want to know how many books you will need to sell to break-even on costs. You will also need to know how long it will take to break even. It's not going to do you any good if you need to sell 1000 copies to break even but it'll take 10 years to sell that many. (Hey look, there's the marketing team poking their heads in and saying "target market.)
    • Paper prices are given per 320 pages. You will need to divide the given price by 320 to get the per page price. Multiply the per page price by the extent of your book to calculate the cost of paper for your book.
    • Remember that a lower gsm does not make your book shittier or your pages less opaque. It just makes it lighter. :)
    Anyway, I should get back to studying for my big test on Wednesday! Here's to another big week! 

    PS. Next week's post should not be as long. We are doing a Q&A session in Editorial and a test in Marketing so there won't be as much learnin' happenin'.

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