Publishing Industry Job Descriptions – Who Does What?

Terminology choice is the key to good writing (and good indexing) – obviously an important aspect of the publishing business.  But the terminology choices for the professions in publishing remain a mystery sometimes.

Recently someone posted an article on LinkedIn asking if people outside your profession really understand what you do.  The answer is clearly “no,” as most of the time people inside your profession don’t always know what you do.

The broadening of services in the industry is a natural off-shoot of publishing houses shedding themselves of certain responsibilities.  Years ago, editing (all varieties of it), design and layout, proofreading, indexing, printing and more were all tasks managed by the publishing company.  Now most of that work is outsourced to others in the industry.  But what do these others call themselves?  The terminology is all over the board, which makes it confusing to find the right place offering the services needed.

Sometimes organizations called Pre-Press Services offer many of the services mentioned above.  Other times they seem to be closer to printing services.  Likewise Book Packagers is a term often used, but what services such organizations package together differ from company to company.  Sometimes Printers actually offer more than printing, including the end-of-publication services such as indexing.

As an indexer marketing my services, I find it a challenge to know which firms to contact.  Many firms designated under a specific category vary so greatly in what they offer that it becomes a mystery whether or not it’s worthwhile to connect with them.  Clients, likewise, must become frustrated when trying to locate a particular service, as it’s difficult to tell from the business category whether or not a certain firm provides the services needed.

The publishing industry is a constantly evolving entity, so categorizing businesses is a challenge.  That said, it would certainly be helpful if there was some consistency.  Any thoughts are welcome.

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