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Turning Great Ideas into Books: Part Two

by Jonathan 21. July 2011 11:27

When last we left Project Genius, it was a stack of paper. The content was there, lovingly penned by Jonathan Gross. Time to slap the pages on a spine, sandwich 'em between two flashy covers, and mass-produce those babies...right?

Not so fast, dear reader. Before any of the above can take place, Project Genius has to undergo a little something called editorial. Read on to learn all about it (and about Jonathan squirming under the relentless onslaught of the all-powerful Red Pen).

PART TWO:

Ream of Paper + Editorial = Shiny (and Grammatically Correct!) Shelf-Ready Content

The process of creating a book is a lot like taking a flight. First, you have to pack - you gather all of the things you want to have with you when you arrive at your final destination. You shove all of these items into a suitcase - this is like a completed manuscript. It contains all of the material an author wants to reach a teacher or child.

But you can't just hop onto your plane and take off, can you? You must first pass through security. This process confirms that you are aircraft-ready - you aren't carrying any prohibited items, your credentials check out, your socks don't smell overly offensive... In the same sense, editorial confirms that a manuscript is shelf-ready. Over the course of an editorial review, a manuscript will be scrutinized for prohibited items (misspellings, typos, incorrections), acceptable credentials (national and state standards, focused and grade-appropriate content), and even smelly socks (less-than-acceptable writing, overdone prose, wrong answers).

By the time the manuscript enters the terminal that is design and production, LEP is certain that the content within is complete, correct, and valuable to our customers. The editorial process ascertains that our words are ready to fly into developing minds around the world.

So...what actually happens? Well, once we have a completed manuscript in our hands, we submit it to a professional editor. Depending on a project's focus, we might give it to a number of additional experts and so-called beta-readers. These include subject experts, teachers, and parents. These reviewers have a specific amount of time to read, analyze, and suggest revisions or corrections.

It's at this point that the infamous Red Pen enters the fray. Well, it might be blue...or green...or pink - you get the idea. The editor combs through a manuscript's pages and marks his or her changes in a variety of keywords, symbols, and shapes (seriously, we publishers could probably found a worldwide language of our own).

The collectively tattooed project is then sent back to us for an internal review. We must consider every change. Some are obviously necessary (2 plus 2 will never equal 5, for instance; and George Washington is highly unlikely to have lived until 1899). Other suggested changes must be debated by our team. Do we want to remove a particular block of text to make an activity simpler? Does this page's language need to be raised to a more challenging caliber?

Ultimately, we make the revisions that we must, as well as those we feel make the project better. It's not uncommon for a manuscript to loop through the internal review more than once. We are trying to create the best product possible, after all. It can be difficult to move something on, giving up our ability to make adjustments and slight improvements.

But the show must go on. When that time comes, we fully approve a manuscript's content. It passes through the last scanning device, its words not to be patted down again. It strolls into the production terminal, leaving Red Pen and its endless supply of ink behind. It glances at the departure time monitors and finds the flight scheduled to land in Book Land. It heads for Gate D: Design. But that's a story for another day...

Stay tuned for our exploration of Project Genius's design process. We'll explain how the words take on a final shape, how they acquire pictures and graphics, and reveal the faces and creative minds behind our stunning covers.

And now, for your entertainment, we present Jonathan Gross: Reactions to His Edited Manuscript.



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Education

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