Someone wrote to ask me what I meant in the last post about the budgets being kept artificially low by having books set in Times New Roman rather than Courier.
Hereâ€™s what happens at many publishers (big publishers are worse about this than small ones, generally, simply because theyâ€™ve been doing things the same way for so long): The production budgetâ€”copyediting, typesetting, proofreading, etc.â€”is set based on the number of pages in the manuscript, not on the number of words or characters or anything that would be sensible in the computer age. Just the number of pages. That might make sense if those publishers required a certain format for manuscripts, but they donâ€™t. I get manuscripts from them in all kinds of fonts and point sizes and spacing. So a 100,000-word manuscript that is set in Times gets a lower production budget than a 100,000-word manuscript that is set in Courier.
Now, do the people in production know that this doesnâ€™t make sense? Well, the ones Iâ€™ve asked about it certainly do. Itâ€™s just that publishing is very hidebound that way.
For myself, if I know that a manuscript is set in Times New Roman (or line-and-a-half spacing or 10-point type or whatever else), and if I know that the publisher will give me grief about going beyond the ten pages per hour they generally expect, I simply wonâ€™t take the project. I will spend the time on the book that it needs, and I turn down enough work that I’m just not willing to eat those extra hours.