Going to Press
Once the production manager has made all necessary decisions, the book is ready to be sent to the printer. Because it is a minutely detailed and complex process, we will only briefly describe the printing process. Most authors find it interesting to learn at least the basics of what the book has to go through to reach its final form.
The printer will create a film from the files provided by the production manager. This film is used to create blueprints, commonly referred to as “blues.” The blues represent the book's final form. They are bound pages, but the quality will not be as good as the final product. The blues will be the last chance the publisher has to review the book before it is sent to press. Corrections made at this stage are very costly. However, it is important to double check the placement of illustrations, make sure that all pages are there and in order, look for unwanted marks on the pages, and confirm that all elements have come together properly.
The editor will highlight any corrections that need to be made, then send the blues back to the printer. If there are several corrections, the book will need to be typeset again and pages adjusted, starting the process over. After corrections have been made, the book will go to press.
The production manager specifies the quantity for the print run in the instructions to the printer. The print run is the approximate number of books to be printed. The film is then used to set up the press for the print run. The book will be printed on large sheets of paper, the paper will be folded and gathered into signatures, the signatures will be trimmed, and the book will be bound.
If you have written a picture book that will be printed with full-color illustrations, there is an additional step to be aware of. While the printing process will remain the same, color will need to be added.
Four-color printing will usually be used on covers if not in the book itself. The book jackets will go through a separate print run, and may even be printed at a different printing company. The jackets will normally be printed long before the book itself goes to the printer, since jackets are commonly needed in advance as sales materials.
This is usually done in a four-step process, hence the name four-color printing. The four colors used in this type of printing are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (the four are commonly referred to as CMYK). The image will go through the printer four times, each time adding a new color. The combination of these four colors will result in the variety of different colors you find on covers, in magazines, and in illustrations.