The Christmas Memoir Rush
“A lot of hard work is hidden behind nice things.”
Somehow, December has crept up on us and, as Bill Nighy’s lovable character in the classic festive film Love Actually so tunefully observes, Christmas is all around us. In fact, for the LifeBook project management team, the first mention of our Christmas production schedule for this year was somewhere back around the summer solstice. While the logistical side of ensuring that books can be produced and delivered in time to be presented on the big day begins halfway through the year, it’s not until the autumn that the buzz really builds up. For the past few weeks, ‘Christmas books’ (as they are coined internally) have been the talk of head office.
Like a lot of Christmas-related tasks, the production of these books doesn’t come without its challenges. Firstly, because many of our authors are, very understandably, keen to gift their LifeBooks to their loved ones, the volume of books to get to our bookbinders at this time of year tends to be rather high. Also, because writing the story of a life can truly be a labour of love, when we get to the print stage, we (and our authors) like to check and check again that all is as it should be before we place the print order. Cue the November rush to ensure that each of these books is sent to print by the ever-looming Christmas cut-off date.
Once the hard work of getting a book to print is complete, the next thing we project managers concern ourselves with is the safe delivery of the books. Around this time of year, authors’ routines may differ from the norm. They might be making a December getaway, visiting relatives or celebrating Christmas away from home, and, for the purpose of gifting, may need books to go to multiple locations. We are, therefore, sometimes required to get creative! This might mean liaising with family members about receiving boxes of books or arranging for a courier to deliver to a hotel, and meticulously tracking books on their journeys to various destinations around the world – all in good time for Christmas Day, of course!
Achieving the production and delivery of all our books is a collaborative team effort all year round, but never more so than in the run-up to Christmas. Once project managers have identified the books needed for festive delivery, we get underway, pushing and tracking each project through LifeBook’s carefully curated production process, with one or two colour-coded spreadsheets to help us ensure that everything is where it needs to be! Not only do we regularly liaise with our authors, but with the other teams in the process too: the editors, who give the final nod that each book is complete; the design team, who typeset the books; and our bookbinders, who masterfully print and bind each copy.
For the project managers, who work on their projects for six months or more, one of the best feelings is to see the finished book and, better still, to hear feedback from each author once they have received their copies. This is only heightened with Christmas books as knowing that your author will take so much joy in gifting their book to their loved ones is truly rewarding. Once all these memoirs are safely with their authors, I liken the feeling to settling down on Christmas Eve, safe in the knowledge that after weeks of shopping, planning, wrapping and preparing, your effort to make Christmas Day a success is finally done and, above all, undoubtedly worth it.
Written by Laura Hodgson, LifeBook project manager
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