As I mentioned in Episode 1, this notice appears at the top of Typeflow's rate sheet:
I was going to talk about the second one, Changes to design after it's underway, but then it occurred to me that the principle underlying both of these common money-wasters is worth talking about. That principle is:
Don't go backwards in the standard workflow.
The standard book workflow goes through these stages, in this order:
A book gets more complicated as it passes through these stages, so any time you reverse direction in this workflow, it means the same fix is now a bigger deal.
ASIDE: There's some looping that happens naturally to accomplish handover at some of the stages—an author and editor, for example, might have a few go-rounds to get something just right before Editorial takes it completely out of the author's hands, or Design might need a few rounds of collaboration with an editor on a few test pages before they agree on the basic look and feel of the whole book and it's taken fully out of Editorial's hands—but these are transitional phases, as each department ensures it has what it needs to fully take over.
But just as Editorial won't let the author get their fingers into the Editorial department's Word file (and, for that matter, just as the author doesn't allow their first readers to type stuff in the manuscript), Design won't let an Editor do a single thing in the layout file. Production won't let Design touch the production file. The printer won't let Production into the print file. Every stage requires specialized skills that take years to fully master, and people at each stage will absolutely screw up the next stage's file.
It's easy to see how my warning about inadequate proofing (read it here if you haven't already) is an example of going backwards. For the Editorial department, a typo fix is as easy as changing something in a Word file. For the Design department, any change—including a little text change—is a layout issue, not a language issue. Design doesn't care what the word means. It cares how much space it takes up, whether it's got the right size/spacing/color for the type of text it is (body, subhead, etc.), and what else on the page has to be adjusted because the correction changed those things. Adding as little as a single comma can reflow an entire chapter.
Is this a tragedy of epic proportion? No, it's just Tuesday in the Design department. But it takes more time, experience, and skill for someone in the Design department to add that comma in a facing-pages layout with sidebars and tables and photos with captions than someone in Editorial who can just type a comma and go get lunch.
Now multiply that by the total number of changes in the change list the designer has been given. If an outstanding job was done by everyone at the Editorial stage, there may only be half a dozen. (It's never zero.) If an outstanding job was not done at the Editorial stage . . . I've sometimes made four figures on just typo fixes. My rent has been paid, on more than one occasion, by the text-change invoice line-item alone.
But Editorial changes aren't just proofing changes.
They're also "Chapter 6 needs a full rewrite," or "We can't use these photos/song lyrics/excerpts after all." (These are real examples.)
When these things happen at the Editorial stage, fixing them might involve time and aggravation, but the only monetary expense is the cost of the alcohol—and the publication date isn't usually threatened that early in the workflow. At the Design stage, the rewritten Chapter 6 takes a few hours or a week to lay in, depending on whether it's a novel or a big complicated coffee tome with sidenotes and footnotes and tabs. Plus, if there's a drop-dead pub date that's now in jeopardy because this decision wasn't made until the book was almost done, all that rework might be not just expensive, but expensive plus rush fees.
One more example. Indexes.
If you don't index it until it's at the end of the Production stage, which used to be the practice, back in the Cretaceous period because page numbers couldn't be known until then, you're wasting money. Hire your indexer during Editorial. The indexer will insert invisible tags in your Word file. These tags will flow into the layout program and the designer can generate an index from them.
Why'd I bring up indexes here? Because if you flow in a new Chapter 6 at the Design stage instead of Editorial, you just invalidated the index in the design file. It has to be done over. (Plus you had to bring the indexer back in at the Editorial phase, to index the rewritten chapter.)
If you want to be a free spirit throughout the entire workflow, you're free to do that. But not for free.
Plus there's the complication of the ebook. Was it already exported from the print book and revised (because the initial export is not a finished ebook, just a starting point)? Double all of the above expenses, because now every single one of those changes has to be made twice: Once to the print book, and once to the ebook.
Compare ALL OF THAT to:
Make the change for free at the Editorial stage.
Okay, okay, we get it. What about other backwards moves, not just the ones between Design and Editorial?
Glad you asked. I'll tell you about going backwards from Production to Design (and what "Production" means) in Episode 3: How To Waste Money On Your book: Changing the design.