We’re on a mission to demystify publishing! You might have noticed that in the back of our books we always list the full team who work so hard and so tirelessly to bring you the final, finished book. That’s because it’s so much more than just an editor and a printer, and often countless people bring their expertise to the table to make sure our stories reach you. One of the biggest barriers to publishing is that people don’t understand how it works and how many component parts are involved. We want to break down this barrier so you, as a writer, reader or future publisher, can see what it takes to bring a story to life.
From our Publisher, Sharmaine Lovegrove
As the Publisher of Dialogue Books I am responsible for our ‘vision’, namely our mission to publish a variety of stories from illuminating perspectives and focus on being a home for voices from BAME, LGBTQI+, disabled and working-class backgrounds. I receive around fifteen to twenty manuscripts per month from literary agents and, if I read something that I think will sit well on the Dialogue list, I take it to the team and to the wider company acquisitions meeting to canvas opinion and ensure we are the best fit for that project before we take the plunge. I am obsessed with ensuring readers are connected to inclusive stories that will surprise, inspire, empower, resonate and question!
When we acquire a book I work closely with the author to realise their vision and to make sure a book achieves its potential. Editorial is involved in every single stage of the process, from buying the book and honing the manuscript, to briefing out the cover, to making sure the costs work, to writing up the blurb and defining the positioning. The stories on your shelf are a labour of love and can take anywhere between a few short months and many long years to turn from a Word document to a finished book.
DESK EDITING/PROJECT EDITING/EDITORIAL MANAGEMENT
It’s called different things throughout publishing, but whatever you call it, we are the people that do the important insides of the books. After the commissioning editor has handed over a manuscript they’ve worked on structurally with the author, we send it to copy edit (either doing it ourselves or sending out to freelancers). This is a check of not only grammar, typos and punctuation but plausibility of things characters do, consistency within the story, or fact-checking in the case of non-fiction. The author sees this and makes their own changes, then it gets set into a PDF with Production, and we have proofs which we check all over again, and carry on making changes each stage until we’re happy with it. We also do a lot of other stuff like checking covers, getting files for books we’re buying in from America/Australia, and a lot of admin!
If you see an author being interviewed on TV, hear them on the radio, or read a review of their work chances are their publicist would have set that up! Our job is to let as many people as possible know about a book. We work with journalists across the media spectrum from literary editors at major newspapers, to bloggers who have huge followings on YouTube or Instagram to place reviews, interviews and features with our authors. We also set up nationwide events with bookshops, libraries and literary festivals to get our authors message out there. Publicity work very closely with the author (sometimes this actually means physically close as we accompany them on tours up and down the country!) in the lead-up to and during publication and beyond.
Our award-winning Marketing team are always on the lookout for ways to promote our books and get them into the hands of as many readers as possible. This might be through digital advertising, working closely with retailers, creating display materials, radio, podcast or TV adverts, pitching to subscription boxes, managing our community social media channels and newsletters or partnering with other organisations and businesses who may be able to help us in our mission to spread the word! Marketing are generally involved in a book’s life cycle from the acquisition of a manuscript all the way through to publication and beyond, shaping the book’s position and identity to make sure it finds its readers.
Our design team are always looking for new ways to push creative boundaries, making sure that the covers are as exciting and innovative as possible so that the books stand out for all the best reasons, in bookshops and online. They work across all imprints and genres, from creating initial ideas to putting together the final artwork to send to production, working closely with all departments from an early stage to ensure the design is the best fit it can be for each particular book. As well as designing the covers in-house, the team also commission artwork from illustrators and other designers, attend photoshoots and research the best possible pictures to use.
You could say that the Sales team are the final stop on the way to getting our books into the hands of readers, but we are also involved in decision making right from acquisition stage. Once an editor has their eye on a book it then needs to come through Sales, who have the job of estimating the sales potential of every project. After a title has been acquired it is up to Sales to champion it to retailers, push for the best promotions and make sure that it ends up in the right places to reach as many readers as possible.
Selling rights enables our books to reach new markets and audiences, whether we are selling translation rights to an international publisher, serial rights to a newspaper, or film rights to a production company. We raise awareness of titles and their authors by sharing manuscripts with editors, pitching upcoming books at rights fairs, and putting together detailed, colourful rights lists featuring our frontlist and backlist titles. Generating international interest in our titles begins as soon as a book is acquired and continues long after it is published – our aim is to get and keep our books on the shelves of readers all over the world.
Hachette Audio is a small and award winning imprint at Little, Brown which has grown from strength to strength since first being established in 2003. Audio is the fastest growing area of publishing today and our audio team at Little, Brown are at the forefront of this. We work closely with our authors to ensure that the perfect voice is found for the audiobook and our audio list spans the breadth of our publishing at Little, Brown across both fiction and non-fiction. Once we’ve recorded the audiobook we work closely with marketing and publicity to make as much noise as we can, creating marketing clips and finding new ways to reach listening readers. Before there were books there was storytelling and reaching new readers through audio is something we’re hugely passionate about.
Production project manage the book from delivered manuscript to finished copies. This is through getting the manuscript typeset (authors can have as little or as much input on this as they wish), keeping Editors on schedule when proof-reading, checking cover files and sending everything to print at the printers. Production is a department that is a great mix of operational and creative responsibilities – like choosing what paper would look best for a book, taking photos to a repro-house for adjustments, (colour reproduction, to make photos look as good as they can printed), to calculating costs for printing abroad and offering expertise on when something can reasonably publish.
The HR team looks after the employee lifecycle. We help recruit talent into the organisation and make sure our staff feel supported and valued during their time with the company to ensure they can contribute to making the best books and content possible!
Learning and development also sits within the HR function and this team put together training programmes to ensure our staff have the right tools they need to achieve their own and company targets/ goals.
Working with every department in the company, the Operations team have an unparalleled overview of the entire publishing process. They ensure that all books flow from the moment of acquisition to the very end of their lives on time, on budget and as efficiently as possible. They run key company meetings and make sure that deadlines are met, book data feeds are correct, and they decide how many copies of each book to print, working hard to keep all titles in stock and available for many years post-publication.
The profitability of our books is equally as important as ensuring that our authors are paid fairly and remunerated correctly. Our finance team are involved at the very start of a book’s life cycle from acquisition, suggesting appropriate author earnings, to the end of the cycle, where we review how the book has performed over the first few years of it’s life. We are always working to mitigate risk, by creating and managing budgets and reviewing costings. We analyse our sales as a means to learn about trends by comparing our frontlist and backlist sales and print vs digital revenue.