Digital Directions: Tear Down the Silo
2. Product Clusters. When contemplating new products, try to develop an acquisition and development strategy based upon a cluster of print and digital offerings within one title or one series of titles that reinforce the value of one another. An interactive tablet application to support an educational print title would be one example of this. Make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Don't make the digital offerings just e-book versions of print titles. Think through what can be done in digital that cannot be done in print, and exploit the heck out of it.
3. Templates, Templates, Templates. Adhere to a template-based publishing approach. Create templates for manuscripts (in Microsoft Word or your application of choice), templates for output (e.g., InDesign), standardized cascading style sheet (CSS) for Web, and so on. And don't just think of templates as a starting point. Make sure that you conform to the structure of the template throughout the publishing process. Templates are the key to efficiency, automation, consistency, and—subsequently—quality. If manuscript editors work within a standard template—and do not go off and create ad hoc styles—then many downstream processes, such as composition or e-book conversion, can be automated. The savings can be enormous. An added bonus: product consistency.
4. A Repository of One's Own. Maintain a repository of your content—both production assets (manuscripts, illustrations) and final output (InDesign, ePub, etc.). Don't let your service providers be the only ones with authoritative archives of your products. 'Nuff said.
5. Manuscript Approvals. Get authors and editors to sign-off on content at the manuscript stage. Many publishers edit significantly after the work has been composed for print, which creates a host of production delays from revisions to e‑book conversions. If the only final, authoritative, approved content is in an output format (such as an InDesign file for print) then cross-media delivery is a challenge. A .docx manuscript is a far better place to house the authoritative text. Heavily illustrated titles notwithstanding, treat the manuscript with the reverence it deserves: the DNA of your product.
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