To those outside of the industry, publishing can often seem rather daunting. To some, it might only appear to be an editorial team who manages to create books out of seemingly nothing and sell them. To others, it might seem like an odd machine that they can never understand. But, like every industry, there is a reality to publishing that is neither of those things.
There are several departments within a publishing house: editorial, publicity, marketing, production, design, sales, rights, and finance. And each one of them contributes to the publication and success of a book in different ways.
- Editorial. This is the team that most people think of whenever they think of publishing. This is the team that will work most with the words of the book. They will read the book when it is submitted to the publishing house, acquire the book, edit the book, proofread the book, and, finally, send the book to print.
- Publicity. This is the team that stands behind all the events that the author will do. This will include book signings, talks, appearances at festivals, talk shows, or panels, as well as school visits.
- Marketing. Unlike publicity, which focuses on getting the author in front of people, the marketing team will focus on getting the book in front of people. This team will handle advertisements in bookshops, posters on the underground in London, spreads in magazines. Any time you see something advertising a book, that’s what the marketing team does.
- Production. This is the team that is behind the production of the book. They will make sure the size of the book is perfect, liaise with the printers to solve any problems, as well as ensuring that the eBook is created to the standards of the publisher.
- Design. These are the people who are behind the beautiful book covers that we find ourselves surrounded by in bookshops. At most publishing houses, the design team is in-house (a term which means they work for the publishing company itself), but in some smaller publishing houses, they might send the design work to a separate design company. The design team will receive either a description of what the editor wants for the book design, or they will read the book themselves and decide on what they might think a cover for that book would look like.
- Sales. The sales team are the people in the publishing house who will sell the books to retailers, such as Waterstones.
- Rights. Big publishing houses and, increasingly, smaller ones will have their own rights team. Rights are a big part of publishing and, without getting into the details of the rights of a book, are very important to the sales of books. The rights team will, if they have secured the rights, sell the book into different territories across the world.
- The finance team will be the people in charge of making sure that authors get paid their royalties, keeping track of advances, and overall managing the flow of money from publishing house to author, illustrator, and, at times, agents.
It’s important to note that some of the smaller publishing houses might not have some of these departments, and that larger publishing houses might have more (such as a department wholly dedicated to social media). But overall, this is what the basis of a publishing house looks like.