(This image of a plant is from the Nationaal Archief. Though it is a very attractive kind of plant being grown in an artificial environment, this is not at all the kind of plant that we are discussing in this post.)
What are people in publishing talking about when they talk about ‘plant’?
When an author pitches a book to us and we look at it and we’re like, ‘hm, we think this is very good and we could consider buying it,’ a lot of the next things we will think about (and questions that we will ask the author) are things like:
How many pages is it?
Is it a glossy or a matte paper stock?
Is it black and white or full color?
What are you thinking about for the trim size?
Does it need to be colored?
Does it need to be lettered?
Does the original art need to be scanned professionally?
Basically, we ask questions so we can get an idea about what the production cost for the book will be — the necessary costs that we’ll be taking on to get the book made, like buying paper and ink, and any design costs. Those costs are referred to as ‘plant,’ or ‘plant costs.’
We want to find out what author is thinking about their book’s plant costs so we don’t end up in a place where the book is finished and we’re like, ‘eep, we promised the author a perforated tear-out sticker sheet in this graphic novel, but that makes the price go up by $10 per book!’ or ‘glow-in-the-dark ink is super-expensive!’
So when someone in publishing starts holding forth about plant, no need to look for the green thumb.