Newsletter 16_Steer clear of the potholes …

COMPRESS.dsl: Steer clear of the potholes 2 ducks upside down in sync …on the road to publication

… on the road to publication

Hellooooo there

October to early December is the busiest time of year for many businesses in South Africa – and we at COMPRESSdsl are no exception. It seems as though we’ve suddenly realised the end of the year is looming, the project we promised we’d have done by December is still unfinished, and we all knuckle down to meet our commitments before the holidays beckon.

This year we are fortunate to have a number of new clients looking to complete publications by the end of the year, or by early 2022, and we thought that a brief recap of the publishing process, along with the potholes to avoid on the road to a successful publication, would help everyone’s planning.

Steps in the process of creating a publication

Below are the main activities involved in the publishing process for a book. The project here, which involved copy-editing, printing, and e-book creation, lasted 14 weeks. Every publication is different, and many can be completed in under a month.

Project management throughout the project - diagram showing diff steps

Pitfalls along the way

As in any project (or, in fact, everything we do), communication is key. The greatest source of frustration and missed deadlines is a lack of clarity on how long things take, and how the process works. Below are some of the most common reasons why projects are delayed or become much more complicated than they should be.

• Engage with the quote we send you before the project starts. Do you really want a colour web document, but only black and white printed copies? Are you happy with the size we suggest? Have we correctly estimated the number of pages, or graphs that will need redrawing? If the quote is inaccurate, we all work off the back foot from day one, as most organisations find it hard to increase a budget once it has been agreed.

• Read, understand and BELIEVE the timeline, and look carefully at how long each step takes. Work out the date you’d like to post the publication on your website, or host a launch with printed copies, and work back from there to see when we will need to receive the final version of the manuscript. Most of these steps are not ones we can rush – quality takes time, and a 50-page report cannot be proofread in a day.

• Final copy is FINAL COPY. As soon as we receive it, we start work on it, either editing or proofreading. Sending new versions means we have to start the editing process all over again, leading to delays, additional costs, and possible version-control issues. Don’t send any final version through until you are sure it IS final.

This is even more vital if we are dealing with several languages. Imagine the nightmare of taking a report in English, editing it, translating the edited version into French, Portuguese and Arabic … only to have the client make changes to the original English version. Believe us, it happens. And it delays a project by weeks as well as adding substantially to the final bill.

• Answer the questions we ask you. If we send back a list of queries after copy-editing, take the time to answer them properly before we begin the typesetting process. Look for those missing references, check the numbers we questioned (are there really 2 000 000 healthcare workers in Zimbabwe? Does that graph actually mean anything?). Time spent querying things at this stage saves a huge amount of time later – the old adage of a stitch in time has never been more relevant.

• Engage with the design. Look at the colours, fonts, headers and footers, infographics and graphs. Show it to all the stakeholders in the project, but make sure just one person makes the final call. Not looking at the design properly before approving it, and then wanting changes once everything is laid out, is time-consuming and costly. If a design is changed substantially after a report has been laid out, then we have to start again from scratch.

• When we have proofread and typeset the document, please check the first proofs very carefully. At this stage we can still make small design changes, and pick up heading-level issues, as well as add in elements that had not previously been thought about (an infographic might explain this issue better, or a photo could lighten this page). Again, share this first version with stakeholders for their feedback, because changes become harder and more time-consuming to take in at every subsequent step of the process. This is especially relevant when we have to redraw artwork or recreate graphs from Excel files. Mistakes can easily creep in, and it is ultimately the client’s responsibility to check their own work.

• Finally, know in advance where printed copies should go, and to whose attention. It sounds silly, but we once almost missed a book launch because the client gave us the wrong address and the books were delivered into a university admin building blackhole. Don’t drop the ball in the last minutes of play!

Hopefully these warnings of impending doom do not put you off producing publications, but rather help us all in planning properly for a smooth process. As many of our clients know, a well-managed process can be so pleasant, and feel almost effortless, if everyone does their bit and plans ahead to avoid these pitfalls.

Enjoy the next month, and start planning the projects for 2022!

A pretty picture depicting an open book and the pages flying away like birds


Don’t forget to order your organisation’s desk planner/diary for 2022

Next year is now only a few months away. COMPRESSdsl produces a fantastic desk planner/diary, that can be tailored and branded for your own organisation. We can produce as few as 25 copies, at a surprisingly low cost. It’s a fabulous way to remain front-of-mind with your clients and partners for the entire year. Click on the image below to see the entire publication.

Do be in touch for a quote if you would like a diary for your organisation.

Compress 2021 desk planner diary visual of different pages

How can we help you?

Please do < contact us > for a free quotation for assistance with translation, copy-editing, graphic design, layout or proofreading of any of your corporate publications. Have a look below to see how we can help you with your next project. We can work with any sensible budget or timeline, and are keen to reach out especially to those who need our help during these exceptional times.







We would love to hear how you’re doing.
Please drop us a message.
082 787 5555


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