Every publisher works in their own way, so what you read here may not apply to everyone, but this is how my process works and overall shouldn’t be too different from how most publishers do things.

  1. The author approaches me with an idea, usually by email. For the first contact, it’s enough to know the basic concept, what makes the idea interesting or sellable, a little about the author’s qualifications, and where they are in the process.
  2. I reply either yes, no, or maybe and list some things I think the author should change or do differently.  I may ask for a short sample to get a good idea of what exactly the book looks like. Some authors already have a finished manuscript at this point. Others only have a draft chapter. Both are fine.
  3. Once I feel I have a strong idea what the book will contain, the author and I can discuss whether we think the book is a good fit or not. Sometimes this means I ask authors to radically change the book, adding sections, cutting sections, retargeting it to a different audience (adult learners instead of children), changing listenings to readings, and so on. The author will have to decide if they want to do that or look elsewhere to be published. Both options are fine.
  4. If we both agree that this book is right for us and we are right for the book, the author finishes the book. Some people like to check in or get some working feedback, but generally unless it’s a small question, it’s best to send a finished draft manuscript (MS). Generally, it’s a good idea to make sure that draft MS has been edited, at least for spelling and grammar. The draft MS includes the content of the book. It may or may not include illustrations or diagrams. It does not have to include a cover. I do not pay advances. I wish I could afford to, but at the moment I cannot. When I can, I will.
  5. At the same time, that the author finishing the draft, I send out a draft contract that gives me the rights to publish the book and spells out the terms of those rights, royalties, and all that sort of thing. We can also negotiate the contract.
  6. Once I receive the first draft MS, I edit it myself or have it edited. Provided the author has followed the proposal laid out in step #2 and 3, editing involves mostly fixing spelling and grammar errors, addressing places where the writing could be better, finessing activities, and making stylistic changes. We tend to follow Chicago style. In some cases, the editor may suggest adding or removing paragraphs.
  7. The edited MS is returned to the author to revise and rewrite. Generally, there is much dialogue in comments about why certain changes are made or not. After 2-4 rounds of editors editing and authors revising (usually), the text of the MS is ready.
  8. The last stage before sending the book to the designer is deciding on illustrations and general design issues like tables, charts, sidebars and so on. I always like it when authors have ideas for pictures, but I have access to professional stock photo sites and generally it’s easy to find images and illustrations we both agree on. If the book is illustration-heavy, like a picture book or a workbook/coursebook with images on every page, the author has usually already gotten an illustrator working with them.
  9. Now it’s time to send the book to the graphic designer. I have a few designers I work with who are very experienced and professional and know how to design a book that sells in the ELT market. The graphic designer does two things:
    • The cover: While I generally send cover ideas to the designer, and authors may have their own thoughts, the designer will work hard to research what best-selling books look like and create something that is beautiful and marketable. Designers usually create a few options and I share those with the author so we can suggest tweaks and come up with something everyone is happy with.
    • The interior: Designing the interior of a book is an often over-looked skill. Book designers choose fonts, for the body, chapter and unit headings,  design elements, pagination, running headers and footers, tables, boxes and sidebars, image size and position. and a lot more. Again while the author and the publisher may have some ideas, the designer tends to know best. The designer usually creates a few options, and I share with the author so we can suggest tweaks and come up with something everyone is happy with.
  10. The design phase generally takes longer than you think, and after the book is designed, it is also proofread. I usually do that myself, but some authors like to get involved or suggest a friend who will proofread for free.
  11. Review Copies are versions of the book to be sent out to friends, fellow teachers, and important influencers in the field. Often, I will send you a pdf made from the unformatted MS of the book for this purpose. Thus while the designer is working, you can send your book to people you think might be willing to write short blurbs about your book. At the same time, I will send the book out to influencers and big names that might be willing to write a blurb.