Perils of the Process (a Spycraft 2.0 SP and World on Fire Update)

Running a company is new territory for me, for all of us, but in many ways it's not unlike what I used to do at AEG. I'm still managing and troubleshooting as much as writing and producing. Take, for example, our print products. It's virgin territory for everyone involved. Mongoose just bought its own printer, which means that they're learning how to use the new equipment, training new staff, purchasing and using things they've never dealt with before. Likewise, we've never spearheaded print design before. Sure, lots of print books came out from AEG, but Scott, Alex, and I were always two or three steps removed from the actual process.

I was probably most hands-on, working closely with AEG's graphic design department, and I learned a lot about how to prepare documents that would be easy to interpret and use. By necessity, I also learned much more about Quark and its vastly superior successor, InDesign, than I ever did at the college newspaper. (Of course, back then, we were still using print plates, so it was a whole different ball game.) This background, which is a sharp contrast to my partners' talents and experiences, made me a shoe-in to take the reins with our layout, and let me tell you, it's been an adventure.

Take our first two print projects for example: Spycraft 2.0: Second Printing and World on Fire. Beyond the text work required for both (we incorporated errata into the first and literally rewrote about 30-40% of the second - pretty much simultaneously), it's been a labor of love massaging them to do just what we want them to and getting them in just the right shape for Mongoose. As an example of the wacky, I'll offer the latest and greatest of our obstacles. We're experiencing an odd printing error, in which the kearning and/or tracking of certain sidebars, page numbers, and headers condense down to only one or two character stacks. No idea why. The settings are all right and everything looks good in both the InDesign and PDF files. We can even print the files fine on our home printers. It's only when they go through the full galley process that the problem occurs.

We'll figure it out, but it's one example of the many thousands of ways print products can go wrong, and why they take time. We're committed to making sure our books are top notch rather than simply pushed out the door, so we'll take the time that's required to get it right. That's our Crafty promise to you. We're prepping an exciting announcement about the books that will tumble down the pipe when we get that date locked down. In the meantime, we're gonna try to get one or two PDFs out to you. Practice Makes Perfect is sitting on my drive now. Just needs an editorial sweep and the drop into our (proven) electronic template. Watch for that really soon.

P.S. Other than the kearning/tracking issue, and a couple easily overcome problems beyond, the advance copies are gorgeous. We're very pleased with the interiors and everyone should rest assured that Mongoose's new printer is up to the task. The process just needs a little more fine-tuning. When these books hit, they're gonna rule. :)