New book update

We’ve finally got the cover art for the new book, which is now up on Amazon for pre-order! It will not hurt our feelings a bit if you all order copies for your several thousand closest friends.

We’re in Wyoming right now, in Jackson Hole to be exact. We came out on a quick trip for a meeting and a little R & R while we’re here. Since we kind of left on short notice and aren’t really going to stay long (plus I didn’t know exactly what our accommodations would be), I didn’t bring my normal stack of medical papers. Hence, I’ll be blogging on some not so scientific stuff for the next couple of posts.

So many people have asked us why we didn’t include this or that in our various books, say, for example, a bibliography. I thought this would be a good time to go through the publishing process for those who might be interested. And to let people know why you can’t put everything including the kitchen sink in a book.

As you can see from the cover above, our book is for sale on Amazon, and it’s listed as having 288 pages. Most people would figure that the book is just about ready to go, otherwise how would the publisher know how many pages long it was. The truth of the matter – in this instance at least (and with every other book we’ve written) – the book is in its original manuscript form, i.e., typewritten and double-spaced with a whole lot of TKs in it (TK means to come as in, we’ll look it up and send it later.

A book is a long collaborative effort between an author (authors) and a publishing house. It starts with the contract, which specifies a delivery date for the manuscript and the number of pages in the book. (A standard trade hardback, which this book is, usually contains 288 pages.) While the author(s) are writing the book, the publishing house is readying the cover and establishing a price for the book. The covers are printed long before the book is ever ready. Since the cover lists the price of the book, and since the cover is of a size that will fit around a 288 page book, then the book needs to come in close to the 288 pages. If the book comes in too short or too long, there are problems.

As soon as the manuscript is finished the authors send it to their editor, the authors’ representative within the book house. The editor begins the process of line editing, which is going through the book and making suggestions. A major misconception among non-writers is that authors send a jumble of words to an editor, who then straightens it all out and makes sense of it. Nothing is further from the truth. Editors only suggest, they never change. They can’t change so much as a comma without the authors’ permission. All the content of the book is the authors’. The cover of the book – including the title – belongs to the publishing company. It is their advertising piece. They often ask the authors, but the decision as to what to call it and what art to put on the cover is all the province of the publisher. To give you an example, MD and I hated the title Protein Power. We thought it was kind of too cutesy and diet booky – we wanted something that had more scientific heft. Our pleas fell on deaf ears. We hated The Protein Power LifePlan even more, but, alas, to no avail. These titles have kind of grown on us over the years, but we weren’t happy campers at first.

After the editor makes suggestions, the manuscript (the actual manuscript filled with blue markings) is returned to the authors. The authors decide which of the many suggestions they agree with and which they don’t. There is then some give and take back and forth with the editor. Editors I know tell me they are delighted if their authors accept 50 percent of their changes. MD and I are usually easier to get along with than that, and probably accept about 75 percent. These suggestions are usually such things as: you need to expand on the introduction in chapter 2; you need to end chapter 4 so that it better leads into chapter 5. Those kinds of things. For a specific example, in the introduction to the chapter in The Protein Power LifePLan (I can’t tell you which chapter because I don’t have a copy here to look it up; I’m pretty sure it’s the one on fat.), I describe Australian Aborigines cleaning, cooking and eating a wallaby (I wrote that chapter). Our editor didn’t like it at all. In fact, she thought it was gross and wanted it removed. I held tough because it was in there to show that Aborigines, and by extension, early man, ate all the animal, not just the steaks. These are the kinds of discussions that go on during the line-editing phase. At this point, we haven’t seen the line-edited manuscript from our new book back yet.

Once the line-edited manuscript makes a couple of trips back and forth, and all the TKs get put in, the manuscript is ready for copy-editing, the part of the process that all authors hate. Copy editors are editors that make sure the book stylistically conforms to the particular publishing house’s requirement, which is really no big deal from the author’s perspective. Copy editors also put in instructions to the printing house, which is also no biggy to the authors. But the copy editors also go through and query the authors on anything and everything (it seems). If the authors put down that Joe Blow, a researcher at Harvard, says so and so, the copy editor tracks Joe Blow down to make sure he’s from Harvard. If not, you get a note about it. It might be that Joe Blow was at Harvard when he wrote the paper you quote, but not now. That has to be made clear in the book. Copy editors check each and every little fact, and whatever they come across the make a note that the authors have to respond to. Going through a copy-edited manuscript will send one to the bottle quickly.

Once the copy editing process is complete, the manuscript is sent to the printer, who prints it up as galleys, which are pages that are typeset as they will be in the book. Sometimes these galleys are loose pages, other times they are bound like a paperback book, and called, appropriately enough, bound galleys. The galleys are sent to the authors to go over once again, this time looking for typos and to make sure everything else is okay. At any of the above stages, including the galley stage, the authors can add or change content of the book. Once the book is in the galley stage, however, any major changes the authors have to pay for.

Once the book is in galley form, it may turn out that it is 296 pages. Which is a real problem if the book is supposed to be 288 pages. The book is priced based on 288 pages; the covers, which were printed while the book was being written, are sized for 288 pages; something has to be done. What is done is that the content is cut. In the case of Protein Power, we lost the bibliography, and we shoehorned an entire chapter on fiber into a two-page box within another chapter. Even then, the book was too long. The publisher changed the font, but the book was still too long. So MD and I went back through and trimmed paragraphs here and there and got rid of about 8 pages, which was what we had to do to get it down to size. That’s why we didn’t address everything and why we had no bibliography. We actually sent out bibliographies at our own expense to anyone who wrote for one. Now it can be downloaded from our website.

Once all these issues have been dealt with, the book is ready to be published. It’s an exciting but kind of anticlimactic moment when the first package of books arrives at the authors’ domicile. It’s great to actually handle the thing and flip through the pages and realize that just a year or so before it was nothing but an idea.

At any rate, that’s how publishing works. I’ve spent most of the time explaining it from the author’s perspective because that’s the perspective I have. But I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that dozens of other people work on the book at the publisher’s end. The book sales force is making suggestions; the PR department is on top of things; the marketers are looking at all sorts of angles for sales; and the editor coordinates it all and tries to keep the authors happy at the same time. As I say, a book is a real collaborative effort.

As a reward for your slogging through all these dreary explanations of how publishing works, I’ll provide you with a couple of photos of the scenery where we’re staying.

This is the view of the Tetons right out the back window of our cabin. (Double click for full size view)

In case you don’t believe me, here is a photo I took while lying on the bed. You can see the Tetons right out the window just beyond the very laptop these words are written on. (Double click here also)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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23 thoughts on “New book update

  1. OK….I’m curious, what did you want to call PP and PPLP?

    As for the chapter on the Australian Aborigines? That was one of the best parts of the book! Gross for some I guess, but I found it very interesting!

    We didn’t have an actual name in mind. The working title of Protein Power was The Insulin Connection, which we liked, but the publisher felt would make the book seem like it was for diabetics only. When we took exception to the title Protein Power, the publisher then threatened to call it Diet 911, which we absolutely couldn’t abide. We didn’t have any title in mind for PPLP.

    I’m glad you liked the chapter on the Aborigines. It confirms my judgment in holding tough.

    Best–

    MRE

  2. Thanks for this post, Dr. Eades. It’s great to hear an author’s view of the publishing process.

    We copyeditors really don’t want to send our authors to the bottle. We’re behind the scenes to help make manuscripts be their best selves, figuratively straightening a collar here or dusting off a sleeve there. Most of us try not to interfere with any author’s voice or ideas because we have great respect for the tremendous amount of work that it takes to write a book.

    Here’s wishing you stellar book sales!

    Thanks for the good wishes. I truly do appreciate all that copy editors do. I just hate getting the ms back with all the zillions of little yellow flags, each of which I know I’ll have to deal with. It does make for a better book, and it does give me a good reason to pour a big glass of good whiskey. On second thought, maybe copy editing isn’t as bad as I thought.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  3. What lovely views! I always enjoy the pictures that you take.

    I’ve pre-ordered the book. I wish that I didn’t have to wait until next March to get it but with time flying the way that it does these days, it will be here before I know it. Given all the work that goes into getting a book published, it’s amazing that books get written at all! Many thanks to you and MD for going through the process because your books have made a big difference in my life.

    I glad that you are able to blog more regularly again. Your recent posts have made for some good reading.

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m kind of glad to be back in the saddle myself.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  4. I’ve lived in Wyoming for 25 years. I avoid Jackson because it’s too damn expensive and crowded. But I’ll be in the Tetons for a race Labor Day weekend. That gives me 6 weeks to be cured of my middle age middle. Sadly, the book won’t we ready in time to cure me. :-)

    Kevin

    But think of how great you can look by next Labor Day.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  5. So, when does the cure for the 20-something post baby belly come out? :) Hoping it will still work for me :)

    Maybe that’ll be the next in the series.:-)

  6. Ha–I see MD comes first on this one. Coincidence or design?

    Our editor called us and asked how we would prefer our names to be listed. We said we didn’t care. They put MD first. That’s how it happened.

  7. I can’t wait for the book to come out, sounds good. The pictures of the Tetons are beautiful.
    Did ya’ll see the ABC news tonight re: low carb diet?

    Yep, I saw it. I was waiting for it to come, but didn’t realize it was coming this soon.

  8. It was fun to read this post. It was ever so interesting! I can relate, even although my low-carb cookbooks are self-published, one of them (not low-carb) was published through Centax (an outfit in Saskatchewan, Canada) and we had to foot the bill (re-mortgaged our first fully-paid home – took a real gamble, but it became a best seller in 6 months and then went to reprint a couple of times) – I still had an editor and the whole bit that you describe, along with the usual marketing (which I’m not fond of, but I did it anyway). The second book went through MacMillan Canada, the largest publisher in Canada – my editor did almost nothing – I did the editing almost all on my own. Now we are publishers ourselves of my books and Jonathon Bowzer’s art. I don’t intend to write more books, as I’m retired since about the age 47, and in any case 7 is enough for me.

    Wow, I like the sound of your new book! I have your Protein Power Book amongst others on my bedside table. :-) I enjoy picking it up and reading it from time to time. I also enjoy your blog immensely (extremely informative and, thankfully, mostly not too technical for me), but I’ve never posted before. First time!

    Try to find time to relax. I know it can be a stressful time, but still wonderful in its own way. You won’t be able to relate to this (MD might), but I liken producing a book to being pregnant all those months and then finally having the baby. LOL

    Jennifer

    Glad to have you comment. Come again.

    Cheers and congrats on the bestselling book.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  9. …uh, another six week miracle out there?

    Give me a break.

    Give it a read before you criticize. At least I’ve got my name on the title, which is more than I can say for your comment.

  10. I thought the inside look at publishing was fascinating.

    To Megan Bagwell, regarding the “20-something post baby belly” book suggestion, I recommend checking out *Lose Your Mummy Tummy* by Julie Tupler and Jodie Gould. I don’t know if they give any diet-related advice, but the exercises are invaluable for reining in sagging abdominal muscles.

  11. That’s so funny that someone criticized you for the title after you’d just carefully explained how you don’t have any control over the cover/title of the books you write. Obviously your would-be critic not only doesn’t feel the need to read the book itself, but doesn’t even bother to read the post before dashing off a snide dig under a glib, clever-dick pseudonym.

    I can provide the material, but I can’t make them read it.

  12. Thanks, I’ll have to give it a look! I have been doing Power 90’s Ab Ripper 100 that works beautifully, and of course doing low carb makes the tummy beautifully flat (unless I have too many sugar alcohols.) I was just being silly, felt a little left out from the title “middle-aged middle” :) but how different can a post baby belly be from a middle aged belly? 😉

    Off topic : I was so pleased to hear on the news last night about our Low-Carbing success with the 2 year study of 322 people. (I think I let out a big “DUH” when they said low carb lowered Cholesterol the most) Still a little confused about this :

    “The low-carb diet set limits for carbohydrates, but none for calories or fat. It urged dieters to choose vegetarian sources of fat and protein.

    “So not a lot of butter and eggs and cream,” said Madelyn Fernstrom, a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center weight management expert who reviewed the study but was not involved in it.”

    why can’t they just let it be, why NOT a lot of eggs???? And seriously, vegeterian sources of fat and protein? Please!

  13. Thanks for the explanations Mike. Can’t wait to get my hands on this book as well.

    While I understand why the bibliography can become a casualty of the publishing process, I also notice that one of the first criticism of a book that becomes controversial because it goes against accepted dogmas is the ‘where did they get this’-factor. When I try to discuss your books with other fellow scientists, I know that question will come. In the end there’s always a taste of too much anecdote stuff, even though you might have mention that ‘a study conducted in such and such by such and such…

    Because of my training and profession, I always ask (like you) ‘where’s the data’? When one reads your books, that question is always lingering. Some of us will go on and seek for the data ourselves; fortunately, you offer enough hints for us to go and hunt for that data. My point is that books shouldn’t be so different from pier-review material and references should always back up the authors’ words. I know… wishful thinking… but publishers shouldn’t sacrifice bibliography or content. Skill authors like you and MD have shown that can workout the content and still make the essential points. I know that’s why I enjoyed reading “The Omega-3 Connection” by Andrew Stoll as I could easily go and get the articles myself and read them to see if I could come up with the same conclusions as he did.

    Perhaps another alternative would be a ‘companion’ book with the list of references, but I have now idea if publishers would even be interested or even bother to consider those options, or even if there is a market for that. Personally, I would buy both the book and the companion book of references.

    I’ve fought this battle long and hard and lost every time. I’ve come to grips with the idea that if I’m going to be a writer of nutrition books for the popular press, I’m going to have to live with the publisher’s title and the publisher’s length requirements. It’s a little better now because just about anyone who would read a book like Protein Power will have internet access, so we can provide a URL for the the bibliography. And we can expand online on sections of the book that we might feel got a little bit of short shrift. These online additions can take the place of what you call a companion book, which I can tell you, the publisher would never go for.

  14. Look forward to seeing the book. In the meantiime, there is a study over a 2 year time period comparing low fat, low carb and meditteranean diets with best results for low carb. Question: For the low carb group they were told to emphasize vegetarian sources. Does this mean eggs,cheese, milk to the exclusion of fish, meat, and poultry? How would emphasizing vegetarain sources affect the results? Am sure Ornish will argue that fat was not kept under 10% so the results from his point of view are invalid!
    http://content.nejm.org/

    See today’s post.

  15. This was an interesting read. Thanks. Another commenter, Charlotte, asked if you had seen the latest news about the low-carb diet, which of course, you had. I just wanted to point to a response from Dean Ornish that should either amuse or infuriate you and your readers, depending on your mood:

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/146641/page/1

    Here’s a teaser nugget that’s sure to keep the fire stoked: “I’m also very skeptical of the quality of data in this study. For example, the investigators reported that those on the “low-fat” diet consumed 200 fewer calories per day—or 10,000 fewer calories per year—than those on the Mediterranean diet, yet people lost more weight on the Mediterranean diet. That’s physiologically impossible.”

    Enjoy, everyone!

    Sounds like Dean and Anthony Colpo should get together.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  16. Hey Dr. Mike,
    Great info on the anti-aging article. Hats off to the second study group for their scientific diligence. I always think of glutathione as being in the cytosol and forget about it being in the mitochondria. Are you familiar with Bruce Ames’s work with acetyl-L-carnitine and lipoic acid and the mitochondria? http://www.annalsnyas.org/cgi/content/abstract/959/1/133. I think they took the italian work of using alcar to fire up aging mitochondria and added lipoic to make sure the flames weren’t getting too hot and throwing off too many sparks. Interesting to know that a low-carb diet gets us there as well.

    Here’s an entertaining link for you while your “on the range”. Make sure you watch the whole thing, it gets better as it goes on. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DJVSP3N5a4

    Hey Robert–

    I am familiar with Bruce Ames work. Thanks for the link for those who aren’t.

    Incredible video. I almost bailed on it before the good parts. I’m glad I watched it all the way through.

    Cheers–

    MRE

  17. Great photos and a great summary of the publishing process from author’s perspective. Will look for the newest book. Many thanks for all the good information you include in your blogs.

    Sarah.

  18. It’s sad that you were forced to use a “diet booky” name like Protein Power. That fact is the only reason I cannot bring myself to highly recommend the book to everyone I talk to. The contents of the book (PPLP is the one I own actually), is unquestionably worth recommending, but I cannot bring myself to publicly admit to following “diet books”. And no matter how good the book is, the name is tacky, unscientific and undeserving of your talent.

    It looks like the new one will suffer the same fate, hidden behind something more respectable sounding on my bookshelf. I wish publishers had the guts to risk trying to sell a nutritional guide instead of a get-slim-quick diet book. (heavy sigh) Having said that, I’m sure the revenue stream greatly benefits from this crude/shrewd marketing.

    And here’s some good news for you, Dr. Mike, to round out your day:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080716171134.htm

    ..Todd

  19. I can’t wait to read this book. I pre-ordered it today. In spite of being thin and eating low carb, at 50 I have the problem around the middle. I truly hope this works.

    I, too, hope it works for you. It has for a lot of people.

  20. Geez Todd, Do you care so much about what other people think! Tacky name or not, PP & PPLP are great, sound books worthy of any book shelf space. Would you let the tacky name deter you from spreading the good word, that literally could save some people’s lives?

    Tacky? No, not that. Cheesy. Sleazy. Juvenile. Cutesy. Abominable. Anything but tacky.