Typesetter used to be an actual job. While I’m sure professionals typically handle book layout at major publishing houses, writers at mid-size and smaller publishers must now do it themselves. The days of huge mechanical machines are gone. Machines where someone had to lie out each word for printing, a job which must have been horrendous. So much of publishing is now electronic and I’m not referring solely to e-books. Writers handle the writing process, manuscript submission, edits, and layout.
At heart many object to this. I understand this is more cost-effective for the publisher. With new companies, a tiny publisher, and those offering a larger percentage split, it’s even crucial. Still, it leaves a lot to chance and sometimes can be a complicated process. The writer often has to work a day job, raise a family, have a life, AND write, AND promote. To lie out a work for publication can feel like the last insult. One reason this bites is a writer can go to all the hassle of formatting work to submit to a specific publisher, only to have it rejected. They then have to re-format the work to submit elsewhere. That’s why I firmly believe in the old Standard Manuscript Format. I certainly believe no publisher should require a writer to format a work any other way prior to acceptance, and not, necessarily, even then. Since when has a writer had to be a typesetter?
Likewise, most publishers have a house-style using a particular punctuation system and spelling rules. It’s impossible for writers to keep up with these ever-changing and differing systems. For any writer working with more than one publisher, it can be a nightmare, especially if the house-style updates. I’m a UK writer who often writes for a US market, so whether my books appear in English or American, spellings vary. Usually, I have no option but to at least accept a different punctuation system. I’ve had to come clean with these publishers, to tell them I only know one punctuation system: the one I grew up with. The more I tried to learn another, the worse my punctuation became. Some of these things are too much to ask of the average writer on an average day. It’s something any would-be writers out there need to be aware of. Typesetter is also commonly now part of the job.