The traditional print publishing industry requires long production cycles before any book or publication can see print. This situation has become more acute for authors like myself who publish books on annual software releases. I hope to use this blog to publish information, updates, addenda, ruminations, and other "mid-cycle" missives. I hope you enjoy it.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

What is the process to create a CAD book anyhow?

Maybe you have always wondered just what it takes to get a book out the door. I wonder too... :-)

Revit and AutoCAD books (and other software books) are a little special because of the amazingly short life span. I always joke that if I had any sense (and talent for fiction) I would try to write the next Harry Potter. Such books don't "expire" every year when the new version comes out (Hogwarts 2010) and I'd have a much bigger potential audience. But alas, we write about what we know, and I know about Revit and AutoCAD Architecture.

There are several parties involved.
  • The publisher - is responsible for funding, marketing and distribution of the book.
  • The Author (me) - is responsible for writing the manuscript and providing all artwork and dataset files for the back-of-book CD. The author also reviews the work of each of the other parties and gives final approval before pages go to press.
  • The Tech Editor - reviews all content for technical accuracy. The tech editor is an expert in the software and serves as a "second set of eyes."
  • The Copy Editor - reviews the manuscript for grammatical content, consistency, spelling and adherence to formatting conventions. They also do the book's index. (Thank God for Copy Editors, the book would be pretty sad without them).
  • Compositor - responsible for taking the delivered Word documents and preparing them into final page layout proof. They generate a PDF at the end that looks exactly like what the final printed page will be. Until this point, everyone is working in Microsoft Word.
  • Press - actually prints the pages and binds the books.
  • Distribution - all the folks that take the books from the press and get them to the readers.
Each of these descriptions is a bit simplified, but it gives a general idea of the folks involved in the process. In many projects, there are potentially several people in each category. For example, I have two or three editors at the publisher responsible for different aspects of the project. I am the sole author for Mastering Revit Architecture and Mastering AutoCAD Architecture, but I sometimes use contributors to help with the datasets, certain tutorials or manuscript cleanup. The Copy editor often has different people assigned to different tasks. One might do chapter reviews, another keep the schedule and another does the index. Same goes for the Compositor. I only deal with a small number of these people personally. Many folks work on the project that I never meet.

In the next post, I'll get into a little more detail on the process. That's all for now.

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