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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book though not without flaws, 21 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Book Commissioning and Acquisition (Paperback)
A really excellent book that gives a comprehensive and introduction to commissioning. I bought this when I got my first job as a commissioning editor. This was before it became trendy to do a Masters degree in publishing, so I really came to it totally fresh from a different area of publishing and wanted a book that might give me an overview and some helpful tips. I can't say I've really used it much since, but it did give an excellent overview of what a commissioning editor does, and how the commissioning process tends to work at major publishing houses.

Among my favourite elements of the content are the clear outlines of how to work out the profit and loss (surely a rather crucial skill!) of the projects you are hoping to commission. Even though most publishing companies these days will have some handy computer system which works all of the calculations out for you, it's very important to actually understand what these calculations are doing - and why - and I'd highly recommend the book's practical, how-to approach for this.

The case studies are also interesting - and the questions at the end of each case study are clearly intended to be thought-provoking, rather than soliciting a 'right or wrong' answer. This means that they stand well on their own without the guidance of a lecturer. The checklists are equally helpful.

My least favourite parts of the book? Well, this book does a good job for those who it's aimed at - people joining publishing houses that have existed for some time and do things in a relatively established way. It would NOT be so helpful for somebody joining a digital media publishing house, or aiming to start their own publishing business. Perhaps this is also a reflected of the fact that it last revised in 2004 and is now somewhat dated. It has useful insights, but ultimately it relies heavily on examples and procedures from a certain type of 'traditional' publishing house and lacks more recent examples. Personally I still found the book extremely useful for my purposes. However, it's worth being aware of.

I was also rather unimpressed by the production quality of the book. I've actually bought it twice. The first time, the paper was thick and good quality and the cover was matte. The second time (2011) the cover is glossy and the paper is much thinner. It's clearly a Print-on-Demand book and this shows in both the text and cover designs and the variable production quality. Not impressed, especially for the princely sum demanded for this book...

Overall I would say that I have appreciated and enjoyed not only the comprehensive content but also the engaging writing style of the book. It's very readable and to the point. Though perhaps a little 'traditional' in its view of publishing, it doesn't avoid difficult topics (see the wonderful section on 'Dealing with inappropriate behaviour') and it gives helpful and practical guidance based on sound, kind and well-tested principles.
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Location: London, UK

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