New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
I have seen that there are a few authors that frequent these boards and want to share some frustration with them and everyone else. I have also noted the comments from those who have tried to explain the situation from the publishers point of view — I am trying hard to sympathise.
Here is the situation. I have just finished two books: one is technical and I think the publisher will be ok with it being set using LaTeX and some decent font (they publish a lot of maths/science books so they are used to that sort of thing). But the other book is for a more general student market: the U.S. college scene in fact. I have sent that to a number of British academic publishers and have had a very warm reception thus far. Very gratifying! Except that I really want the book to look good and would like to set it myself, because I know that if I don’t they are going to set it in Word. Word → pdf → printer seems to be the standard workflow. Yesterday I sent one particular publisher’s editor (who has seemed pretty keen to this point, and had just asked for the manuscript to be resent in Word format) a nice letter offering to set the book myself at no cost to them so that the book will look nice (it already looks pretty good, though not perfect). I suggested that if the problem was the editor’s need to work in Word that perhaps some workaround could be found.
I received back very promptly a ‘No it has to be in Word’, with the suggestion that they would indeed just use that to send to a printer (there was no comment that they would output from anything else). It was tart and suddenly unfriendly.
I find it pretty hard to understand publishers who take the attitude that an inferior output is really in their interests. If they used professional designers and compositors on tap (as U.S. publishers do) then I could understand their annoyance with authorial intrusion, but British academic publishers often don’t do that (even those at the highest level).
For me, I suspect, outputting from a Word file may be a deal-breaker. I can feel my heels beginning to dig in.