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Exercise 5.1: What is your role?

Updated: May 27, 2022

Exercise 1 asks me to consider the roles at each stage of book production and how they will apply to me as I work towards Assignment 5. The course materials broadly outline two general types of publishing model, one for larger publishing houses that work with existing written material and one for independent artist authored productions. Other systems for production do exist and have their own stages that overlap with several of the ones listed here, but these are the most commonly found routes towards producing a book within the industry.

Model 1

Writer – Publisher – Editor – Designer – Production – Printer – Distribution – Retail

Model 2

Artist/Designer/Author – Publisher – Editor – Production – Printer – Distribution – Retail

Of the two, I feel that Model 2 is better suited to my current resources as an independent book producer. Having an artist led approach will allow me to have more creative control over the project and it can be achieved on shorter time scale than ones that involve taking work through a large-scale commercial printing process. With that said, I still wanted to explore the theoretical side of what would be needed to commercially publish the document, so I imagined my assignment to be a self-produced artist book first, then also as something that could hypothetically be pitched to an agent and then to publishers for a commercial production.

This model may put extra responsibilities on myself as a self-reliant book designer wearing many hats throughout production, but it's helpful to think about how this model would function for producing a book outside of coursework. I've broke down what my role would be at each stage of the production process below.

Artist / Designer / Author

I will be researching, designing and generating my own content for the book, using digital and practical work to explore ideas and finalise images and text for both the cover and internal page layouts. Although not a requirement for commercial book production, I will be recording the making-of process as part of my coursework for this unit.


My book will be a self-produced individual copy and not a full publication, but I will make considerations to present it in a professional manner that could be considered by a publisher for a larger production. In normal circumstances an agent representing the author would present the publisher with a manuscript, then the publisher would consider if they wanted to take a title through to production. For independent publications, much of this process would be handled by the author as they represent themselves.


Throughout the design process, I will act as my own editor to regularly review my content and to make any adjustments where needed. I will be printing physical drafts for review and to gather the opinions of peers such as colleagues, friends and family to help guide and shape the direction of the project.


The book will be self-produced, and I will need to manage my own time and plan ahead to ensure that I have everything prepared for designing, printing, collating and binding my own book from home. This will involve stocking up on materials and measuring my project around what I know can be produced using the resources I have available.


I will be printing my own work from home using an Epson Workforce WF - 7710 office printer, which will allow me to work using a paper weight of up to around 300gsm on a range of paper textures and sizes up to A3. I'll make sure to test my chosen papers in advance to make sure that the print quality is still of a high standard.


Distribution can be done in several ways and is sometimes performed in house by publishers, or by wholesalers and distribution companies, each of which having their own price points, advantages and drawbacks. For example, a book wholesaler would pay to have stock of a title that they would then sell on to supply retailers, schools or libraries, but the marketing of the book would still be up to the publisher to convince retailers that it is worth buying. Distributors on the other hand are companies that come with a sales team to help sell the book to relevant outlets, with some offering print on demand services for smaller publications, but at a higher price point for the publisher for the extra service.


Retailers are the outlets that handle the commercial sales of books to customers through online and / or physical storefronts. The type of retailer chosen to supply a publication is dependent on the content of a title and is decided through a collaborative effort between the author and marketing teams run by either the publisher or the distributor. For example, a cookbook may sell extra copies if sold in a place that sells homeware equipment shop rather than exclusively in bookshops.

*Not required as a part of this project.



IngramSpark. (2021) How to Self-Publish a Book: The Complete Guide to Publish Like a Pro. At: (Accessed 04/03/22)

Publishers Association. (2021) How publishing works. At: (Accessed 04/03/22)

Sullivan, K. (2021) How Do Books Get In Stores? The Difference Between Retail, Wholesale, and Distribution. At: (Accessed 04/03/22)

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