How to survive being typeset

Typesetting is the process of taking the text from a copy-edited manuscript and putting it into the internal designs of the book. Once the cover design is decided, a designer (not always the same one) will then create the internal design of the book, using many of the aspects (such as images, concepts, etc.) that were decided for the cover. Once you and the production team approve that design, typesetting begins. This can take anywhere from one to two weeks depending on the book.

The most important things a typesetter has to pay attention to are:

  • the page length that is planned for, and
  • to make sure the design is followed (or changed if complications arise such as changes to page length).

Typesetters tend to be very technical and detail-orientated people, often noticing issues like a line being too close to the page number or the spacing between bullet points being inconsistent.

This stage is easier to survive than most of the other production stages, but there are a few things you need to be aware of. At times typesetters have to move specific bits of the book in order to make them fit onto the allotted pages. For example, a diagram could be moved to a different spot in the text, or the typesetter will ‘copy fit’ (the process of rewriting a sentence to save space). You might or might not be aware that this is taking place, but don’t be alarmed as the typesetter is always going to have your best intentions at heart and will never change the meaning of the sentence.

As soon as a book hits production, it becomes a team project and typesetting is just another aspect of that. As we say here at SRA Books, we’ll never let you publish a bad book.

After typesetting, the book then scurries off to the proofreader for proofreading.

To read more about the stages of production, please download my free manual How to Survive Publishing a Book.

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