(Originally published July 12, 2020.)
The fourth edition (like, I assume, the third, second and first editions) of this media ethics textbook was produced, distributed and let’s politely say designed by a traditional publisher. But since that publisher went out of business (hopefully not our fault) and things were a bit haywire in terms of staff/leadership turnover at SPJ in 2019 (definitely not my fault), there wasn’t a publishing arrangement set up for the fifth edition, and it kind of fell to staff to figure something out.
Fortunately, my experience with self-publishing a few times and my selfish interest in nabbing a book cover design credit joined forces to make a case for SPJ publishing its own book instead of seeking out another publisher. I had experience publishing books, no one on staff had experience pitching textbooks, and so in the midst of so much else going on, 1 beat 0. The plan was to get it all set up and out the door in time for our September 2019 convention.
That was a let’s politely say optimistic plan. Between numerous rounds of manuscript edits, last-minute copy additions (it’s kind of crazy out there in terms of media ethics these days), hiring someone to lay out the interior (a job no one on staff had time for once the full enormity of the task came to light), politely asking her to lay it out again when (to no fault of her own) the first physical proof contradicted the distributor’s suggested margin guides despite the submitted file following them, sorting out the publishing rights for every image in the book, convincing the distributor that the reflowable eBook file wasn’t a fixed eBook file despite what their software was saying (this alone took 5 weeks), and finally convincing Amazon that we had secured the rights to all text carried over from the fourth edition … turns out publishing a book is a lot of work!
But our small but talented team (Link 1, Link 2) persisted and learned from every setback, and on June 25 of this year, better late than never, the book went on sale. And, even though I only faintly remember doing it nearly a year ago, I still get credit for designing the cover and illustrating all the little pieces that comprise it.
Should you be in the market for a media ethics textbook, have at these links. And if you just want a closer look at the cover, scroll right past them. (We won’t go out of business if you don’t buy a copy, so don’t feel bad.)