35 Tips for Crashing a Book
14. Develop a template for crash schedules. “[We have] a base template for all crash work; then it is refined with dates and specifics for each particular title,” says Beale. “This was developed as a team effort between editorial, design/production and manufacturing. …”
15. Hold a production “kick-off” meeting with your team at the onset of a book crash “to outline dates and open lines of communication. Identify the team and responsibilities of each member,” suggests Beale. Also, “be sure your most experienced staff is part of the project team,” she adds.
16. Use face-to-face meetings or the phone for critical communication. “While e-mail is fast, it’s also time-consuming when you have a large team to synchronize all aspects of the production process in a very short time,” says Beale.
17. Know how to adapt. “The process and requirements will change with each project, so be flexible,” says Beale.
18. Utilize print-on-demand (POD) to get galleys, advanced copies and/or books to the market sooner than a traditional publisher could. “In one case, we delivered files to the POD printer early one morning, and they were able to ship the books out that same day for delivery the next,” notes Foote.
19. Reward your production team. “Offer small rewards like lunch or movie tickets …,” offers Beale. “[And] include their names on the credit page of the book!”
20. Have a clear-cut idea of how to publicize the book when you decide to crash it, advises Johnson. “With ‘What We Do Now,’ we knew [National Public Radio] should be interested in it. We had some big journalists [who contributed to the book], so certain newspapers should be interested in this. And people who we have seen respond to these kinds of things before, we [went] to again,” he says.
21. Rely on online word-of-mouth outreach such as blogs and news sites when lacking the standard time for advance reviews and conventional media coverage, suggests Foote.
22. Think outside the box. When Melville House crashed the book, “Revolt on Goose Island,” it released a live first draft on the publisher’s Web site, and termed it a “live book.” “Then, the author used [feedback on that] as … research to finish the print book more quickly,” explains Johnson. “The nice thing about that process is it allowed us to attack one of the problems with a crash book, which is you’re out of any kind of cycle, not only for production, but for getting attention for the book … . [The ‘live book’] gave us a nice, little run-up about the making of the book that flagged everybody’s attention. That helped a lot.”
Johnson issues a final disclaimer to publishers that are considering a book crash: “You really are going to be up all night,” he says. “You really are going to be eating weird. You are going to be a little sleep-deprived and crazed, and your staff is, too. People are going to get irritable, and it’s really hard. It’s a lot of pressure, and a lot of tension. [But the books we crashed] were books we really believed in.”