How Many People Are Involved in Publishing Your Book?

The above photo is somewhat illustrative of the number of people involved in getting your book to market. Even if you self-publish there are still many functions that you may have not done yourself.

Below is not an exhaustive list but a rambling stream of consciousness when thinking about the people who are involved in the publishing process:

Author (kinda important)
literary agent (we think this is kinda important too)
acquisitions editor
contract department (legal)
substantive editor
copy editor
proofreader (more than one?)
managing editor
production manager
ISBN agency
cover designer
art director
interior layout designer
copy writer (back cover and catalog)
printer (a full team involved at the printer)
warehouse team
copyright office
chief financial officer
marketing director
publicity personnel
sales manager
sales people (multiple in every publishing company)
special markets sales person
foreign rights manager
subsidiary rights manager (often the same person as above)
SEO manager (digital strategies)
metadata data entry (double check all the details)
online store coordinator (each “store” a different person)
brick & mortar store buyers
online or in-store merchandising manager
ad designer

Add any that I missed in the comments below.
By the way, none of the above jobs are done for free. Thus the challenge of the economics of publishing.

If everything works well the group can create this picture:


13 Responses to How Many People Are Involved in Publishing Your Book?

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton May 18, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    That’s a lot of people, and many of the jobs I never considered.

    As I think about how these people must interact to get a book published and sold, I wonder how the first conversation went about giving away ebooks for free. And with all of those jobs, how does a first time author decide to self-publish?

    Very interesting post.

  2. Avatar
    peter missing May 18, 2015 at 5:43 am #

    I never doubted how many are involved, albeit partially so. I also read a recent post that told of the time it all takes. It leaves me feeling that what exists to inspire needs inspiration. Its tough to be published, it takes time and involves a lot of resources, sure, but it is still worth it. Follett’s masons devoted their lifetimes to the building of a single church – and how much that still inspires us. A diamond digger knows that the toils of a lifetime could yet yield that one great gem that would define their lives – it is as true of publishing. One of the things that lifts me is the quest for a higher purpose. I applied that to selling and it instilled the energy to dignify each engagement. Perhaps the publishing value chain also needs to find its higher purpose. Words are more valuable than medicine or machines. They can lift the soul from the depths to the heights, ignite fire in ten thousand fighting men and set nations free. A job is a trudge, a duty of limited horizons and an end unto itself – I don’t want to make more of that. But a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pitchers of silver. I so want to make more of that.

    • Avatar
      Jenelle. M May 18, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      Here, here, Peter! Your passion for great story telling is heard and felt. Seeing that list filled me with awe. That’s a lot of people who support an author’s vision. Gulp. No pressure 😉

      You mentioned ‘higher purpose’ numerous times. I belong to a small, yet mighty online writing group with that name. Writing for a Higher Purpose and we are lead by an editor/ Jedi (that’s what I call him) named Mick Silva. Have you heard of him? His passion and calling is to challenge people to write for a higher purpose. Not everyone gets it though, but it has grown me as a writer in ways I never expected and my story telling is better for it. Totally worth the patience.

      • Avatar
        Jenelle. M May 18, 2015 at 11:33 am #

        Oh, dear, not sure if that should that be ‘here, here’ or ‘hear, hear’.

        • Avatar
          Peter Missing May 18, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

          I heard it here Jenelle and love the name of your group. The greatest “value chain”, stretched from Abraham to Jesus and beyond. Faithful souls carried a vestige of light through a dark world and passed it down the line, with every ounce of care, until Mary had her turn. For 9 months she carried that profound life to full term until every faithful contribution climaxed with the birth of our Redeemer. The words that pass through each hand en route to the climax of publishing, are also priceless, delicate, precious and life giving. The model of the church is for Christ to be revealed through every part. Perhaps publishing should aspire to something similar, by dignifying the seemingly small contributions of all – for words of truth do make a difference in a troubled world.

          • Avatar
            Peter Missing May 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

            I must add that my comments are not self-centered. The price a serious author pays to be part of that “value chain” is generally significant. Heartbreak, patience and persistence, is all part of the author’s contribution, but that is what gives them relevance. Yet, even so, none of this is about any of us, whether we write or support: it is part of a divine process of stewarding His truth to a dying world. It is about Him, the author and finisher of our faith.

  3. Avatar
    Jay Payleitner May 18, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    Well . . . the list doesn’t mention the most important person in the entire process. The reader. None of it happens without her or him.

  4. Avatar
    Catherine May 18, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Then, you have to add the HR, Payroll, and Benefits folks who hired, payed, and met the employment needs for all of the above…or none of them would be there!

  5. Avatar
    Sally Bradley May 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    There are so many lower-level staff that aren’t mentioned. I was one of them at a major publisher back in the mid-nineties. I worked in sales as a secretary and sent out so many ARCs and books from the sales guys to their main accounts. I was there when Left Behind was releasing, and no doubt that was the book I packaged up and mailed out the most!

  6. Avatar
    Lisa Taylor May 18, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    A programmer is needed to create the ebook (the InDesign plug-in alone just doesn’t do it in most cases, so someone fluent in HTML has to go over the output). Someone else then tests it on the target devices… making sure it works in all recent versions. Then the final digital files (ePub2/ePub3, Mobi) needs to be uploaded to the various outlets (iTunes, Amazon, etc)… that’s usually another person’s job.

  7. Avatar
    JeanneTakenaka May 19, 2015 at 5:31 am #

    I ran out of time to stop by yesterday. I knew a number of people were involved in getting a book to market, but I had no idea this many (and more!) people are part of the process. That explains a lot about the economics of publishing.

    Another of life’s great questions answered. 😉

  8. Avatar
    Keely Keith May 19, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    So many jobs depend on a person telling their story. Keep writing, authors!


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