Newspapers and books really aren’t that different from each other. They both contain words, they’re both carefully edited and designed, they both are marketed and put out into the world and contribute to society in their own way. But their production cycles are vastly different.
I work as an editor for the Vanguard, a student newspaper on campus, and stepping into the realm of book publishing has been a bit of a shock to my system. Book publishing does a lot of the same things as newspaper publishing, just much slower. A newspaper production cycle largely depends on how often it is printed, whether that’s once a month, every day, or somewhere in between. The Vanguard is a weekly publication, and everything revolves around the day it is printed.
For me, everything starts a couple of weeks in advance. I am the editor of one of the sections of the paper, and I work with a staff of writers and journalists. They propose writing ideas, and I help them develop their proposals. Then they have about a week to actually write the articles.
Once they finish writing, they send their work to me and I do my initial content edits. One of the biggest differences between publishing books and publishing newspapers is the way content or developmental edits are done. In newspapers, there really isn’t a whole lot of time to send suggested edits to the writer because the news, above all else, is timely. A newspaper editor has a bit of freedom to change sentences and reorder paragraphs.
After I finish the initial content edits, I send the articles to copyediting and they do their AP Style magic. Meanwhile, photographers are out in the world taking photos to accompany the stories, and videographers are making videos.
Then, we have production day. On production day, the designers lay out the articles into the pages of the newspaper with InDesign. They produce illustrations and they put together our cover. They basically do everything to make the paper look nice, so that people want to pick it up. After they do their design, they print out the pages and the editors literally use red pens to mark up any errors. Any last-minute changes that we didn’t catch on the computer (there are always things we don’t catch on the computer) are marked with the red pens. The designers then make the changes in InDesign, and we go back and forth until each page is as perfect as we can make it. Then on print day, we send it to the printer and start all over again on the next issue.
This is my first term at Ooligan Press, and I’m already seeing huge differences between the way books and newspapers are published. Authors of books are not even close to the same type of writers as journalists at newspapers. Books take a whole different level of care and attention.
The sole purpose of newspapers is to get information out into the world, while books put whole worldviews out into the world. There are similarities, obviously, but the differences are huge, and it’s going to take quite a lot of adjusting on my part, but I look forward to the challenge.