Three things I learned that made working in publishing bearable

Working in Publishing

This is a guest post from Carl Pappenheim, owner of Spineless Classics about Working in Publishing

Publishing is comfortably the most glamorous and educational industry going (well, after tech support of course) but working with text can be a trial.  Whether it’s a poorly formatted lengthy terms-of-business from a bureaucratic behemoth who want to give you a license, or just a poorly transcribed manuscript that was typed up by somebody’s myopic aunty on a Wordstar electric typewriter, at some point you’re going to be tearing at your elegantly coiffed hair with frustration at all the time you’re wasting filling in missing full-stops instead of getting into an event early enough to complain about the free wine.  I personally find such misuses of my time very trying, so in a generous attempt to lessen the misery for others I present to you three things that have greatly reduced my stress of working in publishing over the past few years.

1. Proper use of tabs and style sheets in Word = more time in the pub

Hopefully we’ve moved on from centering text by leaning on the space bar but if you still have numbered paragraphs where only the first line is indented then it’s time to saddle up and get Word to do some legwork.  Do you dread the boss asking you to “just” centre-align all the headings in a 50 page contract at the last-minute?  Document-wide format changes and late edits are a breeze if you lay the right groundwork early on, and you’ll look more professional to boot.

2. Regular expressions

Find and Replace may have been okay for your GCSE English essay but if you start waving it at a ten thousand word Terms of Business that’s been poorly OCR’d then you might as well try to mug Crocodile Dundee.  Regular Expressions, now THAT’s a knife.  Regex will match patterns instead of precise words, allowing you to do hours’ worth of correcting repetitive errors in seconds.  There are plenty of text editors that support them – even InDesign does these days – and you’ll be wrestling that thirty foot alligator of a document into submission in no time, Sheila.

3. “300 DPI” is meaningless, but nobody cares

When people ask for a “300dpi” product image without specifying the size they are asking for a piece of string without the length.  Inevitably, the next stage is an angry phone call about the file tagged as 300dpi which isn’t big enough, or an angrier phone call because you choked up the email system with a 100Mb full-resolution photograph.  Of course it’s their fault for not telling you what they actually wanted but don’t bother trying to educate them; you’ll just get a third call telling you you’re a pedantic nerd.  As a rule of thumb, if the request comes from a journalist I always assume I’m getting full-bleed front page coverage and send them a file of around 2500×4000 pixels.

Then I disconnect the phone and head out to a launch party to complain about the free wine.


BookMachine Oxford, sponsored by Spineless Classics is on November 6. Tickets are available here.

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