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The Life Cycle of a Book in Production: Part 2

By Beccy Fish, Juliette Tulloch and Giulia Caparrelli

Continuing on from our last issue on the start of a book’s life cycle, we have wrapped up what happens from the binding of a book to its publication! Whilst this is not an exhaustive list, we hope to have covered all the key terminology that publishing hopefuls may need to know.


Glued or Sewn Binding

Image by: @prod_squad_books

Glued binding ensures that all the individual leaves are bound together along the spine resulting in a perfect binding. For paperbacks they are glued to the spine and for hardbacks they are attached using endpapers and lining. Sewn binding results in sections of signatures bound together, so the arches are visible by the spine and the thread is exposed when you open up the middle page.

Library Binding

To ensure books can be preserved after circulation between readers, library books must be bound. Library bound books are more expensive and durable because of the high-quality materials used. Oversewing is typically used to fasten the pages: the spines are cut to place pages into smaller sections then resown with overlock stitching. The sections are then brought together and sewn to create a single book and placed in a hard cover.


Standing for book/basic layout and design, blads are a representation of the cover and a few pages of a book within a small booklet. Used frequently for books that feature illustrations, these are used by a publisher’s sales team to pitch to retailers or publishers.


Books can be dispatched directly to customers if printed via print on demand, or delivered in bulk to the publisher’s warehouse. The delivery and distribution of copies can take up to eight weeks for a non-complex book. If produced in the UK and Europe, stock is normally transported in a lorry. If printed in the Far East, sea freight will be used instead. Air freight is another option to speed up delivery, but it’s definitely more expensive.

Book Packages

Books are packed in cardboard boxes weighing a maximum of 13kg and shrink wrapped. Each package should have a label listing the author name, book title, edition number, binding style, ISBN, number of copies in the package, bar code and name of the supplier.


During the pandemic many books’ publication dates were pushed forwards, culminating in a Super Thursday on 3 September 2020, where roughly 600 books were released. Publishers lean towards autumn releases due to the proximity to Christmas and the potential for publicity. Once sales for the hardback edition have subsided, which is on average between six months to a year, the publishers will plan the paperback release. This will involve a new area of publicity and potential edits to the cover design to entice new readers.

Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)

To spread the word, ARCs will be given to libraries, journalists and bloggers, and given out as part of competitions, before the mass distribution of the book. NetGalley is an industry-standard service where reviewers may gain free proofs of such books before they are released to the mass market in exchange for an honest review.

Advanced Information Sheets

These offer information about upcoming titles to book trade partners, and are often used in rights trading to reveal background information on the title. Details include:



Cover image

Book format


Key features or unique selling point

ISBN number

Contact information

Gratis Copies

These are free copies of the book given to the author. The number of copies is normally outlined in the author’s contract at the start of the publishing process.


An erratum is a correction to a published text added to the end of the published title or in a successive issue of a journal. Publishers issue them for production errors, and they are similar to a corrigendum, which is a change an author wants to make to a published title or article. Incorrect information, attribution or mistakes that alter the meaning of the article (or figures) is an example of a significant error that would justify changes to be made. Grammatical corrections and errors discovered after publication, as well as typographical errors which are still legible, will be overlooked.


Authors can be paid via an advance given by the publisher, which is deciphered by the predicted success of the book and therefore is a much lower amount for debut authors, and, subsequently, via royalties. The latter are a percentage of the book's price that is redirected to the author after a sale, with the publisher receiving the majority. If the royalty was 10% for a £9.99 book, the author would receive 99p per sale. In order for a book to “earn out,” the royalties the author receives will exceed the advance previously paid by the publishing house.


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