How to Deal with Problems at Your Printer
The author has turned in the final manuscript. The editorial and design work are complete. Marketing efforts are under way. The proofs looked great, and the book has gone to the printer.
The F&G's (folded and gathered signatures) of your new title arrive in the morning overnight package. That's when the real fun begins. You discover, to your horror, that all the pages slant downhill away from the spine. And the halftones didn't reproduce properly! Now what?
No matter how careful we are or how thoroughly we plan, occasional printing problems are inevitable. As print buyers, we're tasked (indeed, challenged) to deal with these shortcomings.
And we have to do it in such a way as to minimize the impact to our publishing company, customers, and printer partners. This can be quite a balancing act.
The first thing to do when a problem crops up is to notify your printer. Do this immediately. This puts the printer on notice that a quality issue exists, and lets them know you're unhappy with some aspects of the final product.
More important, this gives the printer a chance to initiate an evaluation of the problem while the printing and binding are still fresh in everyone's mind. Depending on the production schedule and size of the run, early reporting can let the printer intercede and correct the balance of the press run.
During the initial conversations with the printer, don't let deadline pressures and your stress level hit the red zone. Avoid the instinct to affix blame or accuse the printer of wrongdoing. You might find the problem is with your people, organization, process, or technology.
Perhaps a file was prepared incorrectly, or something was missed at the proofing stage. Maybe the files became garbled in transmission. If the problem is internal, blaming the printer might not be the answer.