The Well-Formed Document

Articles by publishing professionals

What Is Our Product? Who Is Our Customer?

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Like the head of any organization, I continuously ask a series of questions to keep business growing. Among those questions are “What is our product?” and “Who is our potential customer?” These questions inform Scribe’s business development, investments, marketing efforts, and other strategies. This is the fundamental information that determines how and whether we will continue to grow. If we cannot demonstrate our value proposition to potential customers, we will wither—or at least be priced out

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Mis(s)-Understanding Media

By Mark Fretz of Scribe Inc.

The New York Times recently reminded us that Marshall McLuhan’s classic Understanding Media turned fifty this year. The book is famous for popularizing ideas such as that the electronic image had supplanted the written word and for phrases such as “global village” and “the medium is the message.”1 In the world of pop culture, fifty years is longer than anyone can remember (fifteen minutes is about all most people get), whereas in the history of humankind, fifty years is but the blink of an eye. That

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Quality Assurance and Quality Control

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

In August’s newsletter, I mentioned that there is a distinction between quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC). The difference between these terms is not merely semantic—it dramatically affects the way we work. QA is the processes and procedures that are put in place to make sure that work is done on time, to specification, within tolerances, and (hopefully) within budget. QC is checks to ensure that the work is done to specification and within tolerances. QC is done within a system of QA

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Book Metadata and Discoverability

By Michael Maher of Scribe Inc.

Over the course of the past year, “metadata” and “discoverabilty” have become popular buzz words in the publishing industry. Many publishers, at the behest of digital marketers, have begun to recognize the importance of metadata, especially in a digital environment. Metadata is a huge term, with several layers of meaning. Discoverability is not quite as daunting, but it still eludes many of us.

Earlier this year, Scribe’s President, David Rech, wrote a detailed article aimed at defining metadata

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Quality

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Many of us in the publishing industry use the term quality regularly. When we talk about quality, we mean that publications are free from error—that they appear to be correct. We edit, proof pages, proofread, and make and verify alterations, all in an effort to create quality publications. We judge our staff, freelancers, and vendors by the number of errors they allow (actually, the number of errors found in subsequent stages—we may not know the actual rate). A lower error rate seems to indicate

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The Internalization of Quality

By Nancy Cunningham of Scribe Inc.

The pursuit of quality is a never-ending pursuit. Organizations around the globe struggle to produce a product of superior quality. Whether you are a truck manufacturer, a pharmaceutical company, a national restaurant chain, or the publisher that employs you, quality is that elusive state of being that makes demands on our collective attention spans and efforts, and upon which we rise and fall as both individuals and companies.

Organizational quality is imposed externally through QA, quality assurance

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Fighting Fires

By Mark Fretz of Scribe Inc.

Many publishers spend all their time putting out fires. Like other companies, publishers can fall behind and get so used to being behind that they simply accept putting out fires as the new normal. As a rule, publishers are aware of and can quickly explain why they are in this fix. See if the following example hits close to home:

A typesetter (or editor) went on maternity leave, and her workload was parceled out to two full-time colleagues and one part-time employee. Each of these people already

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The Self-Publishing Revolution

By Betty Kelly Sargent of BookWorks: The Self-Publishers Association

Disruption, upheaval, explosive, in transition—all of these words apply to the publishing business today as never before. But why? What’s changed? Why has self-publishing become such a big deal in such a short time? It seems to me, after thirty-five years as an author and editor in the book and magazine business, that three things have happened:

  1. The technology has changed. Now everyone from stay-at-home moms to astrophysicists can write and publish their book with a few (OK, more than a few)

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