When to start planning for company anniversary books

Publishing company anniversary books is a great way to visualize your history while celebrating and pushing forward into your future. Whether you are a Fortune 500 company, community nonprofit, foundation, or university, your anniversary is an opportunity to strengthen your brand and reputation while telling your story for the world to hear. Put simply, a book is a tactile—and memorable—invitation to potential clients, associates, donors, and students to learn more about you.

However, for institutions unfamiliar with the book publishing process (and its time constraints), an anniversary book can quickly become an impossible goal.

If you are considering publishing an anniversary book for your institution, consider these factors in your timeline:

When is your official anniversary celebration? We like to work backwards from here. While you may not have a specific anniversary date, knowing which month in your anniversary year will be dedicated to the book release (or general anniversary hoopla) is critical. Say your anniversary is in 2015, and you’ve decided to throw a gala in November. This is the end of your timeline.

Is your book hardcover or softcover, full color or black and white? These are the most important factors in the production timeline, as they involve printing. This is the one part of the process your publisher can’t speed up, no matter how rushed you are to have a final product. Printing time varies drastically by type of book. If you want a hardcover, full-color book, a publisher will need to allow at least three months at the printer. Going with our previous example, this would mean we need the book to be completely finalized by August 1.

How much do you need your publisher to do? Every project is different. Some clients hand us a shoebox of photos, ask us to hire a writer and photographer, and give us the shipping address for the final product. Other clients have already dedicated time to curating narratives and historical photos, photographing important people and leaders, and editing and proofreading copy. If you don’t have someone to do the writing and photography (and organization of historical materials) in-house, then make sure you allow your publisher at least six months to do this for you. Continuing our example, this means the publisher would need to have all materials by February 1.

To be done well, books take time. Using the example we've created, this book would require about one full year to produce--and this doesn't factor in the time it takes a steering committee, board, or leadership team to convene, decide on a book project, and choose a publisher. Make sure that if you are planning on publishing a book for your anniversary, that you take these factors into consideration ahead of time, so that your book project is smooth for both you and your publisher.