I recently survived the production of a 52-page conference program with an oversized, map-like insert. I and my assistant worked frantically around the clock the last few days making the editor's copious revisions to drafts six, seven, and eight to release this job to the printer today.
The conference is in six days and 2,000 miles away. The printer assures us that he will meet our deadline (and no, we are not having Kinko's copy and staple the program—this is a reputable, professional vendor).
How did this job get so off schedule?There was no schedule!
Associations need realistic expectations and a clear understanding of what it takes to produce a publication. A good production schedule can increase the entire team's understanding of who does what when and how long it should take.
If you need help developing a production schedule, ask your designer to create one. A production schedule should include:
- Deadline to submit copy.
- Date for ad materials to be in-hand.
- Date for when first and subsequent drafts will be completed.
- Date for revisions to be turned around.
- Dates for sending to the printer and mailhouse.
To streamline your production process even more, make sure the copy has been edited thoroughly before sending it to your designer. The more work you do up front, the less time and money you spend on making edits in the layout stage. (Check out the "You Gotta Love a Close Shave" by Emily Allen in the October 5, 2010 issue of Final Proof. The article discusses shaving two weeks off of your production process using InCopy/InDesign workflow.)
So much stress can be avoided by planning publications more thoughtfully and then executing the plan. Your plan might be to delegate some responsibility. Can someone else in your office proofread just as well (or better) than you? I always try to hire my weakness (so to speak). For instance, with my conference program nightmare, my production assistant (slash/angel from heaven) worked until the wee hours of the morning fixing every comma and widow; every "a.m./AM" and "web site" to "website"—stuff that makes my hair fall out. I get up in the early a.m. (I mean "AM") and jump into what I do best—design. I joke to my clients that together we offer 24-hour service.
If working at a frenetic pace is the norm for you for every production cycle—and you don't like it—develop and follow a detailed production schedule and learn to share some control.