How to Change the Status Quo and Keep Staff Happy
The days of printed galley sheets, blue pencils, and manuscripts are gone. As publishing continues to evolve, it can be challenging to serve consumers who are diversifying how they read with phones, e-readers, tablets, and laptops. Who knows what new reading device will exist next year.
Implementing a modern, adaptable publishing production workflow that will serve your business long-term is necessary to remain competitive and profitable in the ever-changing publishing landscape.
However, overhauling every process at once can lead to culture shock and resistance. Too much too soon can leave heads spinning. Moving too slowly or without a plan can lead to abandoned efforts and a lack of staff buy-in. It’s human nature to resist change, no matter how good it is for us in the long run.
When approaching a workflow upgrade, here are some strategies for making effective changes — for publishers of all sizes — without causing a shock to your organization’s system:
1. Know your priorities and goals
A good place to start for any strategic change is to ask questions about what your goals and priorities for change are. They might be focused on author satisfaction, increasing time to publish, or becoming more agile. Once you have the answers, you can then make changes to specific portions of the process that will have the greatest positive impact for everyone.
Include all stakeholders early on in the process to get buy-in and input upfront. Listen to questions and concerns from different parts of the organization the changes will affect.
2. Simplify the author review process at small publishers
As a small publishing company, your main priority is to attract authors and offer them a smooth and satisfactory experience so they will want to work with you repeatedly. “Author satisfaction” often boils down to striking a balance of creative control.
When the author sees their edited work months after acquisition, many are compelled to edit and revise to the point where the originally accepted work is no longer recognizable. Obviously, you want to avoid this scenario. However, not allowing an author to make some changes at manuscript review means he or she will make them at first-pass pages, causing multiple page rounds, increased costs, longer schedules, and undo stress for the author (and your staff).
An easy fix for this situation is to implement a digital review process of copyedited XML-enriched manuscript files that simulate the experience of the final product. Instead of receiving printed documents or small portions of editor queries only, the author reviews the entire product with content styles added in a layout that approximates the look of the final product and includes tables and figures. Files are restricted so only limited, tracked changes to the text but layout and styles cannot be altered.
This boosts efficiency by respecting the author’s need to remain a part of the process while incorporating his or her changes before first pass, and in turn, increases first-pass proof acceptance rates.
3. Manage multiple projects with greater efficiency for large publishers
Perhaps your company has a large volume of authors and your priority is to reduce the number of errors, missed deadlines, and confusion when handling hundreds of files across numerous projects simultaneously.
To simplify the management of all the ongoing projects, an online central file management system (also called an online portal) can replace endless, time-consuming strings of emails. An online portal:
- Schedules, organizes and standardizes all data for every project in one convenient location that everyone can access at any time via an internet connection.
- Utilizes time stamps and digital signatures to show who did what, when. This also allows you to identify any repeated bottlenecks or issues that can be addressed individually.
- Reduces the amount of time you and your team spend answering emails or locating missing data, reduces the stress associated with these problems and increases production efficiency.
4. Develop digital products without backtracking
Or maybe you’ve got author satisfaction and file management under control, but your teams are stuck in the old ways of publishing print first, and then trying to digitize projects after the fact for PDF, mobile, and web causing backtracking and frustration.
An XML-first workflow solves this problem. This process not only tags source documents with content styles that aid in author review of the manuscript, it tags the entire manuscript with metadata that identifies the product and allows each word to be turned into searchable jump links and hyperlinks. These files are then used to create eBooks, mobile files, web PDFs, and printer PDFs.
Creating born-digital content increases production, portability, and readership while streamlining your process. With an XML-first workflow, print becomes a byproduct of digital publishing.
By assessing your workflow and priorities and making changes based on your goals, your team can embrace modern workflows that make your company more profitable and competitive in today’s publishing world.
Want to learn more about how to analyze and improve the workflow in your organization? Download A Management Guide to Workflow and Keeping Up With the Industry.