The Valley Press Publishing Process

A brief manual for Valley Press authors (and any other interested parties), detailing the twelve major stages of a book’s journey from our subs pile to the shelves. We’ve included notes on timing where appropriate (always a hot topic), who is responsible for what, and the cost to us of each stage, so you can get a sense of the investment we’re making in you and your work. We hope you find it useful, and if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. (Last updated: 9th April 2019)

Stage 1: Contract

What happens: We send you a PDF contract detailing the rights you are granting us, the roles and responsibilities of both parties for however long those rights are with us, how much you’ll be paid, and various other points (it’s 8 A4 pages long). You can either fill out, sign and return this document digitally (if you know how), or print, fill, sign and then post a paper copy to our offices.
Who does it: Anyone from VP can send the PDF, you (or sometimes your agent) should fill and return.
It’s done when: We have the completed and signed contract in a folder (whether that’s on the computer or in the office).
Time to publication: Unknown, at this stage
Cost to VP: Negligible

Stage 2: Submission of final typescript (& author questionnaire)

What happens: You deliver to us a digital copy of your book (in a format compatible with Microsoft Word), which you consider to be final — not in the sense that it’s ready to print, but in the sense that you personally no longer wish to make any additions, subtractions or tweaks. It’s important that you acknowledge this as the ‘complete final typescript’, as that starts the clock to publication day. Alongside this, it’s really helpful if you can return a copy of our author questionnaire, which collects all the information we need to know about you and the book. (Give us a nudge if we forget to send you this.)
Who does it: You
It’s done when: We have your final typescript and questionnaire in a folder on our hard drive, and you have acknowledged the finality of the former — but please keep updating the latter and re-sending whenever necessary.
Time to publication: 12–18 months
Cost to VP: Zero (going well so far!)

Stage 3: Structural editing

What happens: For a collection of poetry or short stories, this is where we decide which poems or stories are included and in what order. For prose, it’s slightly more complicated — it’s ‘big picture’ editing, involving chapters, plot, characters and so on, but not worrying about the language itself yet.
Who does it: Your commissioning editor (i.e. your main contact and champion within the company), or occasionally a freelancer, usually with your help making the changes.
It’s done when: We have ‘version 2’ of the typescript on our hard drive, ready for copyediting.
Time to publication: 12–16 months
Cost to VP: £100–£200

Stage 4: Copyediting

What happens: You will work closely with an editor whose job it is to scrutinise every line of your book and make it the best it can be. Typically they will make the changes to the Word doc whilst activating the ‘track changes’ functionality, then you can go through and ‘approve or reject’ each alteration — but this stage is different for every editor and every book.
Who does it: A specialist editor, with you feeding back on the changes. A few rounds might be needed.
It’s done when: We have ‘version 3’ of the typescript on our hard drive; a clean, completely finished version of the text that has your explicit approval for us to proceed.
Time to publication: 9–12 months
Cost to VP: £200–£1000

Stage 5: Creation of publicity copy

What happens: Working from the information in your author questionnaire, we will produce descriptions for the book (a.k.a. blurbs) of varying length, plus your author ‘bio’, a few key ‘sales points’ to tell trade buyers why this book matters, and perhaps round up some endorsements. This is also when we’ll decide the category (or categories, with qualifiers) of your book, which is important but not hugely difficult in most cases; and begin to seriously think about publicity and marketing — what’s the main ‘hook’ going to be, the connection between your book and the reader? What makes it unique and exceptional? Which contacts will be crucial for spreading the word?
Who does it: One of the editors who has worked on your book before, with feedback from the whole VP team and yourself.
It’s done when: You approve the publicity copy for external use.
Time to publication: 9–12 months
Cost to VP: £100(ish)

Stage 6: Design (interior)

What happens: Sometimes known as typesetting, this is where the text from the copyedited typescript (v3) is organised and laid out as it will be in the printed book. Afterwards, PDF ‘page proofs’ will be generated for you to scrutinise and approve — or request alterations. This is your last chance to alter the text of the book, so be vigilant!
Who does it: Various members of the VP team, or for more complex books a freelancer might be required.
It’s done when: You, the VP team and a third-party proofer have checked the page proofs; when (in theory) all minor errors and irregularities have been caught, and you give us your explicit approval for this file to be printed.
Time to publication: 7–9 months
Cost to VP: £200–400

Stage 7: Design (cover)

What happens: Creating the design that goes on the cover of your book; one of the most fun parts of the process. (We might have started this stage earlier, but it can’t be finished until the interior design is locked.)
Who does it: If there’s a clear/obvious concept, usually our founder and resident designer Jamie McGarry; otherwise a freelancer or design agency.
It’s done when: You approve the final design for printing.
Time to publication: 7–9 months
Cost to VP: £200–400

Stage 8: Registration

What happens: We decide the RRP of your book and (if not already set) the official release date, and submit that and the other bibliographic information, along with the front cover and publicity copy, to all the places it needs to go (there are quite a few). After this, you’ll start to see your book on booksellers’ websites and in catalogues, on Goodreads, and finally on our own website.
Who does it: The VP team
It’s done when: Your book appears on our website and pre-orders open.
Time to publication: 6–7 months
Cost to VP: £50(ish)

Stage 9: Sales

What happens: Your book is ‘repped’ to major and minor booksellers throughout the UK, with some international coverage too.
Who does it: Our sales agency, Inpress.
It’s done when: They have brought your book to the attention of everyone who might be interested in buying a stack of copies.
Time to publication: 3–6 months
Cost to VP: £200–£400 (commission plus fixed fees)

Stage 10: Printing

What happens: The files you approved, for the interior and exterior of the book, are passed to the printer and they apply ink to paper repeatedly.
Who does it: A print company, whoever is best qualified (and offers the best value for money).
It’s done when: Copies of the book arrive at our distributor’s warehouse and our office. We’ll pass some on to you straight away, don’t worry!
Time to publication: 2–3 months
Cost to VP: £500–£2000

Stage 11: Marketing & publicity

What happens: We email our newsletter subscribers with a glowing, rapturous announcement about your book, typically including or linking to an engrossing sample. We’ll do our social media duty too, and perhaps most usefully, aim to give away 10% of the first print run to ‘influencers’; including bookshop staff, famous authors, journalists, reviewers, literary prizes, literary organisations and media outlets (newspapers/radio/blogs). If you can think of a strong idea for an event connected to this book, we may also pitch to the appropriate literary festivals. (Please note that ‘I could stand at the front of a room and read poems’ doesn’t count as a strong idea, but does make you a contender for group readings we are sometimes offered i.e. ‘here are three poets from Valley Press’. We’re not an events company, but will try to ensure you meet some readers face-to-face at least once.)
Who does it: The VP team
It’s done when: We’re sure we’ve done all we can, within budget. If a big marketing grant has recently arrived, we’ll do the same work but more of it — there’s really no silver bullet except to get ‘word of mouth’ going.
Time to publication: 1–2 months
Cost to VP: £100–£200

Stage 12: Release day!

What happens: We change your book’s status on our website from ‘coming soon’ to ‘out now’, dispatch pre-orders, and perhaps give ourselves a pat on the back.
Who does it: The VP team
It’s done when: Backs are patted
Time to publication: Zero!
Cost to VP: Zero, but if you’ve been adding up as we went along, you’ll note the total cost to publish a book (before royalties, and adding a little for our overheads) varies from £2000 to £5000 depending on length and complexity. So we don’t take on any projects lightly; if you’ve made it to a position where you even need to worry about the information in this article, you’ve done exceptionally well. Here’s wishing you and your book the very best of luck for these twelve stages… and everything to come afterwards!

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