June 14, 2018

Onshore, Offshore, Dual Shore: Finding the ‘Right Shore’

Finding the right balance of publishing prepress services in an ocean of variables.

For years, publishers have relied on outside vendors to perform prepress services on their behalf. Specific services like project management, editorial, typesetting and digital products are commonly supplemented by vendors. Depending on the service, publishers intentionally partner with vendors based on location, competencies, cost, and quality.

Over time, lanes have been carved into the publishing landscape for specific services and the locations that they are performed. Publishers often work exclusively with onshore (local) vendors for project management and editorial services – and then a different offshore (international) vendor for typesetting and digital product creation.

Today, this is changing – and the lanes have merged. Publishers are now able to identify the right blend of services from around the globe that meet their needs.

Not all offshore copyediting is equal.

Traditionally publishers have shied away from the thought of moving editorial and project management functions to offshore vendors. This hesitancy has been tied to concerns about quality, communication and expertise.

Now, through new technology that facilitates collaboration, as well as a vast ocean of experienced and talented staff – publishers are embracing a broader use of many offshore services.

As the publishing landscape changes and the lanes continue to merge, there are several thoughtful questions to consider.

1. Can a prepress partner deliver quality copyediting offshore?

The short answer is yes.

Publishers have historically kept copyediting and indexing functions strictly onshore. With thousands of languages, references, slang, styles and so on, it can be difficult to have confidence in the work that offshore copyeditors perform. Not all offshore copyediting is equal.

Getting offshore copyediting setup properly comes down to matching the right people with the right content. Beyond selecting a vendor that checks all of the right boxes, it is important to find one that has an established bench of editors that match up well with the types of publications you publish.

Publishers have many different types of publications and imprints from humanities to technical STM topics. A heavy technical copyedit of a mathematics book is quite a bit more involved than a social sciences title.

It is important to find vendors that have the strengths to support your needs and provide the best value by matching the right copyediting with both onshore and offshore editorial options so you can find your ‘right shore’ solution.

2. How is vendor project management and communication handled?

Seamless communication between stakeholders is critical. Publisher-vendor partnerships can quickly devolve into an apocalyptic disaster if not managed correctly.

Strong project management drives communication. It is vital to have project managers working on projects during hours that match up well with author’s availability and publisher’s production staff. Excellent communication between stakeholders depends on timeliness. It is important to understand the way that a vendor aligns the working hours of its project management and support staff.

Beyond working hours, implementing key technologies for tracking and reporting work performance is a must for creating efficiency, facilitating communication, and managing for risk.

Publisher-vendor partnerships can quickly devolve into an apocalyptic disaster if not managed correctly.

It is worth exploring what technology tools your vendor has built or licenses to handle their project management, reporting, and communication.

3. Are there true onshore and offshore options?

We started this post by saying “how to find your ‘right shore’”. No matter how you do the work – onshore, offshore, or a blend of both – it is important to find options so you can mix, match, test, and find the right balance that works for you.

Does your vendor have a true onshore presence? Some companies claim to be purely onshore – or even to have a dual shore model, but really are outsourcing the onshore portion to someone else.

4. Do you trust your partner with author relations?

Authors regularly interact with project managers throughout the production process of their publication. If they are not getting well-written, clear communication, it can damage the relationship between the publisher and author, and reduce chances for future collaboration.

A huge priority for your vendor should be reinforcing your reputation as a great publisher (and vendor by extension) when communicating with authors.

If trained, and managed properly, this work this can be done well onshore or offshore. Over the years here at Apex, we have had great success with author satisfaction and it is a testament to the people we have on our global team.

5. Is there a value offering that moves the needle?

Identify a vendor who can offer you a dynamic range of offshore and onshore service options that can scale and adapt to your core business needs.

Vendors with a global presence can build solutions that match up with your requirements and discover the right shore balance that moves the needle of value, cost, savings, and time efficiency.


At Apex, we are leading the way in helping publishers identify the right blend of onshore and offshore publishing services that meet their needs. Contact us to start a conversation.

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