If you want to know more about what happens during production, you’ve come to the right place. Not every book takes the same path through production, but we hope the information here gives insight into our processes and highlights how we can work together.
Many of the resources on this page are especially helpful if you’re just starting to write, so feel free to explore the links on this page, which include our style guide and word list, tips about illustrations, and more.
Regardless of how your book is submitted to us (via Atlas, Word, InDesign, GoogleDocs, etc.), the end results usually include print books, downloadable web-optimized PDFs, .epub files, and .mobi files. The total time for production (from submission of the book to files being sent to the printer) is around two months, but this varies depending on page count, complexity, and layout.
Basic Workflow Stages
Not every book goes through every stage or follows the same path, but the following describes our most common workflow steps.
- After your book is sent to production, our Tools team goes over the files and fixes any validity errors, adds boilerplate content (such as the copyright page), cleans up and normalizes the markup, and organizes the figures.
- Copy Edit
- We send either PDF or Word files to our copy editors, depending on how you wrote the book. The copy editor makes suggested edits and leaves comments in the files. When they are done, the files are sent back to the author for review. After receiving the author’s responses, the copy editor cleans everything up and sends the files back to the production editor, who will enter the edits directly into the source files (for Word files, we simple accept the final changes).
- This step only happens for books that were written in Word and for those books that we plan to lay out using Indesign. Books that were written in Atlas skip this step entirely. In some cases, we convert Word files to an Atlas-friendly format, such as HTML or asciidoc. In other cases, we’ll lay out the book using Indesign.
- QC1 (Quality Check #1)
- After all of the copy edits have been entered, the production editor generates a PDF of the book and sends it to the author as well as a proofreader. We also hire an indexer, who will write an index using tags embedded directly into the source files. The author and proofreader review the book and make comments on the PDF. After the QC1 period ends, the production editor enters the proofreader’s and author’s edits into the source files and sends the draft index to the author for review.
- QC2 (Quality Check #2)
- The edits from QC1 have been made to the files, and the production editor generates a new PDF after inserting any necessary page breaks. The QC2 PDF goes only to the author, but the production editor also does his or her own final review of the book at this time. The indexer works in the source files to make the edits that the author has suggested.
- OTD (“Out The Door”)
- The production editor sends the book to a colleague for a final internal review. Nothing substantial can be changed without missing the scheduled print date.
- FTP (Files to Printer!)
- Once the final files have been approved, we send everything to the printer!
- The production editor takes care of post-production, which involves creating final ebook formats (.epub and .mobi) and distributing them to the necessary channels. The production editor also sends the author a final email with instructions detailing how authors can use the Errata Portal and stay up-to-date with their books. Once this email goes out, production is officially finished! In general, printed books are available in stores 10-15 business days after the FTP date.
The information found here includes tips on file types, resolution, what kinds of figures we’ll redraw, and how to submit final art files and a figure list.
The O’Reilly Word Template
Writing in Microsoft Word? The information here will help you learn about our Word template.
The O’Reilly Style Guide and Word List
Looking for guidance on our house style? Check out our style guide.
Head First Production Workflow and Word List
Head First books are unique in more ways than one. Check out our Head First style guide.
Permissions and Fair Use
Looking for a quick resource on permissions and fair use? Check out our Permissions and Fair Use guide.