The Printing of a Novel

Last week, I got a sneak peek inside Bethany Press International, the company that prints all of our books.

I’m not sure what I expected—possibly an ink-and-stamp type printing press like something out of Carol Cox’s Truth Be Told. (Okay, I knew it wouldn’t be like that, but that’s immediately what comes to mind when I think of a press.)

Look what I found...the second printing of Captured by Love!

Look what I found: the second printing of Jody Hedlund’s Captured by Love!

What I saw was advanced technology that lets BPI print out millions of books per year. Rolls of paper taller than me. Stacks of glossy and matte covers just waiting to be attached to the stories they illustrate. Presses that churn out signatures—groups of pages in a seemingly random order that somehow fit perfectly when everything is folded and chopped. A bindery that shuffles all of the signatures in the correct order, attaches the cover, glues the spine, and slides out the final books at a speed that makes my head spin.

It takes a lot of paper to make all those books!

It takes a lot of paper to make all those books!

But even more important than the external trappings of the printing press, which were fun to learn about, I walked away from the tour with a better understanding of the people who contribute to different parts of the publishing process.

I was reminded yet again of all the steps that go into getting that novel into your hands, each of them vital. As a member of the marketing team at Bethany House, I get to see more of the process than most people.  I’m there when the acquisitions editor pitches a book to the publication board to see if we’ll give an author a contract.

I’m not directly involved in the editing process, but I know it’s going on right across the building from me—plot flaws being patched up, sentences being hammered into their final form, teeny tiny flaws being polished away until the manuscript shines.

And, of course, I’m ready when the book releases to tell everyone I can about it through ads and social media and reviews and book signings.

But even I’m not aware of all that goes into making a book, and the tour of BPI helped me appreciate many of the other steps I don’t usually see.

The very first covers of The Secret of Pembrooke Park! I'm excited for you readers to find it on shelves soon!

A stack of covers for Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park! I’m excited for readers to find it on shelves soon!

It’s like the way the church works—each part is essential. Take one away, and the whole thing grinds to a halt. There are no unnecessary steps or people.

Or, as Paul puts it in Romans 12: “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

I love that image. We need each other. That attitude of teamwork—of family—is something I feel here at Bethany House. We all go about our different tasks, but we know we’re working toward the same goal: publishing  stories that will encourage you, challenge you, and help you picture God’s love in a new way.

Thank you for being part of the process—I would say you’re the most important part. Because without readers, the rest of us would have no reason to do what we do.

What part of the publishing process, from idea to finished book, intrigues you the most? What would you like to learn more about? (It might be the subject of a future blog post!)

24 thoughts on “The Printing of a Novel

  1. I’ve thought about many steps in the publishing process (from concept to cover design to marketing), but I’ve not thought much about where the books are actually printed. Thank you for this look inside! Is the printing down in the Twin Cities?

    • Hi Gabrielle! The printing process is an entirely different world (and it’s especially fun to hear about it from people who are passionate about it). Yes, BPI is in the Twin Cities. They’ve printed books for most major Christian publishers.

  2. Oh this is fun to see!! Seeing all that paper and knowing that it’s books in the making makes my heart go pitter-patter. Love seeing those beautiful covers on the way. Thanks for the inside peek!

  3. Really enjoyed a look at the printing process used for our books, Amy. I think an interesting post would be “A day in the life of an editor (acquisitions or copy, or whatever) or “A day in the life of one of the marketing team members.” Maybe not Steve Oates–he’d want to talk about his cat. 🙂

    • I agree–that would be great, Judy! I think people have a vague idea of what an editor does, but not a typical day in the life. (And our editors are such wonderful people that I’d love to interview them!) You’re right…Steve would almost certainly post a cat picture or twelve. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Ask Bethany House: Why Are Ebooks So Expensive? | Bethany House Fiction

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