Angling for a Bigger Piece of the Pie
Following was the production schedule for what has come to be known as an "instant book." Immediately after the contract was signed, Hatch and a Lyons Press editor sat down for one week to write the 101 survival tips, which were emailed to the publisher at the end of the week. The text was approved in one day, and forwarded to Comp Set, a book compositor in Beverly, Mass., with whom Lyons Press does most of its one- and four-color design and composition. Comp Set designed the entire book in one day, and sent a first round of proofs to Lyons Press for quick approval. The next day saw a second round of proofs, quick changes made, and pages sent to the printer, Webcom, in Toronto. In only four days, Webcom printed and bound 250,000 copies, and shipped them to stores.
"Our flexibility is essential to our success," says Bedney. "There's no stagnant behavior here. It's also our versatility that enables us to produce a book by Ernest Hemingway and Rich Hatch simultaneously."
In addition, having a small staff can help projects whip through production more quickly than at larger publishers, says Bedney. The Lyons Press employs nine acquisitions editors, a managing editor, two production editors, one book designer (who does only jackets and covers), a small in-house sales force, a few accounting folks, and Bedney, the publisher's only production professional and a 21-year industry veteran. Much of the work is farmed out to compositors, text-page designers, copyeditors, and the like.
Most of the publisher's hardcovers are printed by large-scale book manufacturers such as R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Maple-Vail and Hamilton, Bedney notes. Webcom handles most of the paperback work. Both Lyons and Bedney say they look for good quality and reasonable costs when selecting a printer — but mostly they want fast turnaround.