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Demystifying Smartsheet

By Danielle Lieneman

The traditional Smartsheet format and layout

When we get a new author, there’s a pretty set standard of procedure. As a project manager, it’s my responsibility handle every detail of the book’s production, from working on initial drafts with the author to making sure the e-book is uploaded and available for purchase. But even for someone who works with an author every day and knows the ins and the outs of the process, it can be easy to overlook the minutia of a project, let alone my frequently overwhelmed authors who are new to the publishing world.

In order to help streamline the publishing process, one of the first things we do with a new author is to set them up on our project management software — a fancy way of saying that we create an online spreadsheet that outlines the various steps involved with bringing a book to publication. This software is called Smartsheet.

In the last few years, I’ve come to realize that many of my authors are intimidated by Smarsheet. Many don’t quite understand its purpose initially and are worried that they have to learn a new program in order to publish the book. My aim with this blog post is to demystify Smartsheet for our authors.

Why we use Smartsheet:

It’s a place to compile all a book’s metadata

The first section in Smartsheet is dedicated to the metadata for a book. This includes items like ISBN (a unique 13-digit number used to identify your book), price, book description, BISAC codes (used to inform booksellers, librarians, etc. the subject matter of your book), and many other important pieces of information (learn more about important terms like these here). It’s beneficial for everyone involved to have one place where all the data about your book can be found. This resource can even come in handy for our authors! If a bookstore manager asks for the ISBN of your book prior to a signing, with Smartsheet, you’ll able to pull it right up rather than having to call or email your project manager. This way, you’re as privy to your book’s info as anyone else at the publishing company!

It gives authors the ability to track their project’s progress

We like to be as transparent and upfront about what the publishing process entails as possible. We know that many of our authors are publishing for the first time and aren’t familiar with all the steps that go into publishing a book. While we try to explain it as clearly as we can, we find that sometimes it helps to have a detailed visual explanation of the processes, especially since there are well over 100 tiny steps along the way! Along those same lines, it allows the author to clearly see where their book is at in the process and how many steps remain before publication. Because Smartsheet is an online tool, it is updated in real time for everyone involved in the project; so office manager, project manager, editor, and author can all know that the cover design is finalized before a single email is sent out saying so!

Smartsheet isn’t anything for you as an author to be afraid of. It’s simply a tool that we use to help keep our authors engaged and informed throughout the project. Think of it as a live feed of your book’s progress through the publishing process. It’s a commonplace book, a log, a checklist, and a live notification system all in one!

Do any of our authors have any specific questions about Smartsheet in general or specific steps along the process? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or on any of our social media accounts.

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