Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Worst Day

Yesterday was terrifying, my most stressful day in the publication process.

It was the review of the copyedited version of my 2013 novel This One Day. And, for me, the review of the copyedited text is always the most burdensome part of the process.

Authors feel differently about the steps they take to see a book published. First, there's the pre-publication process, which can seem like a roller-coaster ride: time consuming, full of twists and unexpected turns, and sometimes (if you can't sell the damned book) never-ending. Once the book is sold, though, the publication process begins: editing, revising, copyediting, designing the cover, locating advance reviewers, and (if you're a go-getter -- and you had better be in this market) scheduling signings and publicity.

This One Day is slated for release in December, so yesterday I received the copyedited manuscript. This is the worst day of the process for me because it's my final, final, final crack at the novel. My last chance to find any errors, typos, or inconsistencies. These are the mistakes that keep me awake at night. Not bad reviews or even bad sales numbers; I can't really control those things. (Of course, I do what I can to sell books, but sales figures are typically predetermined.) But a text error -- now that's a different story. That's entirely on me. And I lose sleep over them, as I should. After all, the copyeditor's name isn't on the jacket. And there are other things about this step that I find taxing. You can't make major changes. If you do, they will cost you. Literally. And what about F. Scott Fitzgerald's final tinkerings with The Great Gatsby? Critics claim his editor Maxwell Perkins struggled to read his hand-written marginal notes and some errors in the text are the result.

Things quickly went from bad to worse yesterday. Around 9 a.m., I opened the PDF sent from my editor -- and my anxiety level instantly increased: I couldn't listen to the text. A dyslexic, I use text-to-speech to edit everything (including e-mails or bi-weekly Type M for Murder posts). But text-to-speech on my MacBook Pro didn't work on this PDF. Not sure why. Don't much care. The goddamned thing wouldn't read the file.

Deep breath. I sat back and went through all the suggested edits (agreeing with most; a digression: one suggestion I rejected was changing 9mm to nine-millimeter throughout), and by day's end, I had the manuscript back to my editor, drank a beer, and cooked dinner.

Now the fun begins. Can anyone say, Wine and cheese? When's that first signing?

1 comment:

Toe Hallock said...

John: I think you have just convinced me to keep sending out drivel, hoping no one will want to publish it. Sounds like more trouble than it's worth. Rejection letters never ask you to jump through any hoops. Just slam dunk your latest effort into the nearest trash bin. I guess you could have compromised and changed the weapon to a 9-mm. Sorry. Just more of my drivel. Yours truly, Toe.