Vintage Books Uses ‘New Approach’ to Crashing a Book Project
Despite his initial skepticism, Miller says he eventually realized the book was an opportunity too golden to pass on. After Democrats seized control of both houses of Congress and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld left his post the next day, Miller says, “I went into my boss’s office that afternoon and said, ‘Look, everything has changed. We definitely need to do this.’” The following Monday—Nov. 13—Vintage got word it had won the bid, and Miller flipped on an internal fast-forward switch.
Making the Book
“We needed to immediately create a type-set design, a layout, that would be specific enough to be helpful [to the printer], but also flexible enough to account for the fact that we hadn’t actually seen any of the content,” he says.
Next up: designing a cover for a book whose contents he had yet to see. The ISG had already selected a title, and had specified that each commissioner’s name appear somewhere on the front or back cover. There were also a few supporting organizations whose names needed to be present, and Miller says Vintage decided to include a line about the charity that would be receiving proceeds from the book’s sales.
Other than that, Miller and his staff had little with which to work. And yet they settled on a cover design in about a week and, perhaps more impressively, obtained the go-ahead from the commission to send it to press on Nov. 21. This was no small feat, points out Miller, who says “there’s always a risk that there are going to be too many cooks. But all along [the commissioners] were actually extremely cooperative and flexible.”
The next obstacle meant tracking down someone who could copyedit the book in rapid fashion. As it turned out, the copyeditor who worked on “The 9/11 Commission Report” was available. However, instead of the eight months she had to copyedit that best seller, she’d need to turn around “The Iraq Study Group Report” in only a few days.