Gene Therapy: From Book Proposal to Profit
Because the system is used to generate reports, proposals and project status, acquisitions editors enter author names in the “Rolodex” module and working titles in the project file at the proposal stage. Proposed specifications, sales projections by channel, pricing and contract features also are entered, the system calculates the numbers that will accompany the project’s descriptive material, and a print proposal is generated. More than 90 percent of proposals are rejected, Zotz notes.
As a project moves past acquisition, “ownership” of data input is taken over by authorized staff in each department, such as editorial, design and production (EDP). The press has about 36 employees, “and just about everybody in the building uses [the system]” to check on status or title information. An average of 150 new titles are published each year, and a backlist of about 3,000 titles can be tracked.
Title activity and data interface is maintained with the University of Chicago Press Chicago Distribution Center, which handles distribution. Budgeted expense and invoice information are tied into the Stanford University Oracle accounting system. Accounting and work-in-process modules within the press’s system enable it to track budgeted and actual plant costs.
Reference tables such as the Title Master File and Rolodex contact file (staff, authors, outsources) can be updated by any staff member and will affect any reporting throughout the system. ISBN’s are assigned at the time of contract.
Maintaining data integrity is critical, and any changes made to the Title Master File need to pass through a human “gatekeeper,” Zotz notes. The publication date, once established, is maintained in the EDP module by the production department. Vendor-required data is pulled from several modules and transmitted in a weekly feed to an outsource vendor, Quality Solutions Inc., under contract with the University of Chicago Press Distribution Center, for formatting and distribution to the marketplace.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.