Upskilling tips for digital production

Blog banner 29 July 2022

This week we are very glad to present a guest blog from our friends at The Publishing Post packed with tips on how team members in production departments can develop their digital skills and boost their careers.

Production in publishing tends to be more of a mystery than departments like editorial and marketing. The digital side is often under discussion. This facet of a book’s journey is key to ensuring the manuscript is published in a readable and accessible format, which we see on websites and reading apps such as Apple Books. This covers the layout, cover design, texture, trim sizes, copyediting and typesetting. In this article, we cover the key skills, top online courses and useful resources that you need to pursue a career in the digital side of production.

Key skills

  • Meticulousness. Attention to detail is extremely important; for example, checking that no page numbers are missing throughout the entire book and the text formats are the same.
  • Collaboration and problem-solving. As you are communicating with multiple teams internally and externally, there is a chance that things may not go according to plan; for example, the supply chain. You might help enact solutions for manufacturing and costing in an evolving digital landscape. It is key that you remain calm under pressure.
  • Strong management. You may be working on a company’s frontlist, blacklist and on non-trade books at the same time. This will involve managing schedules and deadlines in communication with various stakeholders such as suppliers from pre-press to delivery.
  • Understanding Adobe InDesign. You may be asked to check files on InDesign prior to submitting them to production houses and for distribution. Experimenting with the different tools can also provide you with better awareness of the physical options available and the possible considerations when a manuscript gets turned into a digital copy.

Online courses

  • eBook Foundations: This LinkedIn Learning course will give you a basic introduction to the world of creating digital books. At the beginner level this course will teach you how to use, create and sell eBooks, including reflowable, fixed-layout, Kindle, PDF and multitouch books. It takes three hours and eighteen minutes to complete.
  • Publish an eBook: This course will give you the skills you need to oversee the production and distribution process of creating eBooks. On average, it takes one day and two hours to complete.
  • Editing eBooks: In this course, you’ll learn the steps to editing the components of an eBook with a view to publishing an EPUB (Electronic Publication), the format supported by many e-readers and apps for smartphones, tablets and computers. This course takes roughly one hour and thirty-eight minutes to complete for those of you looking for something quick!
  • InDesign CC to EPUB: This will teach you how to create an eBook in Adobe InDesign, a software used by many publishing houses. It will also teach you how to convert an InDesign publication to a reflowable EPUB – this eBook format is standard for most distribution channels. It takes four hours and thirty-five minutes to complete this course!

Useful software

  • Microsoft Word: Before even starting the design of a book, a manuscript is typeset on Microsoft Word and then imported to an advanced designing software. The raw manuscript needs to be formatted in Word to make the best possible copy of an eBook. This software comes preinstalled on almost every device and thus it is the first place where you need to start working when designing the book.
  • Canva: Most of the time, if not always, tools that are imperative for digital production come with hefty subscription fees. However, there are still a few platforms which allow you to polish your skills without a paywall. Canva is one such programme where you can design anything from social media templates to complete catalogues for your projects. It is an industry favourite, be it for amateurs just starting or well-established publishing companies, because of how easy its navigation is. So, if you want to delve more into the digital production route, Canva is for you!
  • Adobe Creative Cloud: Made for the creative industries, Adobe Creative Cloud is the perfect cumulation of every application you might need for digital production. It is another software which is widely used within the publishing industry for its impeccable applications and high-end performance. With tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier Pro and XD, the Adobe Creative Cloud contains a plethora of options to choose from. While Adobe usually comes with a subscription, you can always have a go at their thirty-day free trial and test the software without having to worry about the commitment. If you are a student or a teacher you can also get 60% off the original price!

The Publishing Post aims to be a voice for people trying to break into the industry and also those who wish to learn more about the publishing industry by providing a platform where, as contributors and readers, publishing hopefuls can develop industry specific knowledge and skills, whilst showcasing their passion and love for all things book-related! You can subscribe for regular updates from The Publishing Post here.

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