Edited: appeared in the SCBWI Metro newsletter July 1998.
WHATS IN A DEADLINE ?
I remember the whirlwind in my family household the years we were all caught up in high school graduations and registering for college DEADLINES! There were applications, housing deposits, Senior project due dates, finals, yearbook salutations, cap and gown sign-ups, Prom and Postgraduate Party ticket dates, party gifts to purchase, orientation reservations WOW! To a greater or lesser extent, these deadlines MUST all be met in order to ensure a smooth ending and an opportune beginning. If not .
Due dates and deadlines can make or break a good time, a memory or possibly a future. Missing deadlines can result in anything from a rushed apology to fine paying or even a missed opportunity altogether.
As an artist representative, as well as a mother, I am MOST aware of and concerned with the importance of meeting deadlines. The making of art is a business, and part of a larger business. ALL elements of a work have deadlines so the work can get printed, distributed and sold. Thats what pays the bills and allows for the next project to begin. At best, missed deadlines are annoying and stressful, and at worst, very expensive, in more ways than one. But why and how are deadlines arrived at?
Recently, I spoke with editors and art directors at three publishers about the importance of and the determination of deadlines for their type of publishing. The first was a small publisher, and the medium one was similar. Once the full color art comes in they need a couple of weeks for "the committee" to check it over editorially and designwise. This composite of elements (text, size, art placement, and content, etc.) is compiled on the computer, and the disk goes to the color separator. The original art is shot digitally or the flexboard goes on a scanner. More than one book is being worked on at a time, so this can take another couple of weeks. A printout proof is made in order to make corrections, by the committee again, then back to color separator for a matchprint. A couple of more days for the editor to proof, and back to the separator. Once approved, everything is put on film and sent to the printer. The printer sends in "blues" (printer dummies) which are also checked for missed registrations, typos etc. This can all take another month and is the last chance to catch errors. This shouldnt be rushed! Then a couple of weeks to a month for final printing and its off to the warehouse for packaging and shipping. One can easily see that delays at any point can cause expensive problems.