Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Proofing: the joys of...


The proofs (also called galleys or first pages) are the last chance an author gets to alter anything. At this stage you are not expected to rewrite, but merely pounce on the typos or more egregious errors. They are delivered either on real paper, or as a pdf. They look like the untrimmed pages of the unbound book, usually with two pages side by side on the sheet, and the printing is exactly the size it will be in the real thing.

I had delivered to me 1,250 pages of proofs just before my daughter and grandson arrived...two monster sized books to read and correct

And I have just finished them.

It may sound easy. Your own books, right? Zip through them quickly...uh,uh. No. The whole idea is to read them very slowly, word by word, to make sure you catch all the mistakes. (And you still never do.) Depending on the skill of the typesetter, who had to take your copyediting manuscript - which is usually a mess - and make some sense of it, there can be a lot of errors.

And it is the zillionth time you have read those very words over the past year. Quite frankly, by the time you have finished proofing you are:
1. cross-eyed.
2. bored out of your mind.
3. convinced that everyone else will be bored out of their minds.

Worse still you have family arriving for holidays, lovely trip planned to a beach resort and you never get to go for a swim, and Christmas is here...

So what are these photos?
Well, we took grandson and daughter to a place called Genting Highlands, one of the ugliest places ever built (on what used to be one of the world's loveliest cloud forests until the bulldozers moved in). Because it is holiday time, there was a queue for the cable car. A rather long queue. A line-up-for-2-hours queue that snaked itself back and forth through a large room. All those people you see are in the queue. If I look a bit grim, you know why. It was the second hour.

And I proofed some of Stormlord Rising as we inched along. If you find any typos when you read it, remember that and cut me some slack, ok? :-)

6 comments:

carolryles said...

I've yet to have the pleasure of proof reading my novel. So far I've only ever proof read short stories. One thing I've found though, is that no matter how close to finished I think I am, I always have the urge to rewrite paragraphs that I want to improve. Does it ever stop? Or in other words, does the urge to keep rewriting finally decrease as your writerly experience increases or is it something you have to learn to suppress for practicality's sake?

Glenda Larke said...

I can only speak for myself, but believe me I want to rewrite everything!! I have yet to read anything at all that I have written without wanted to reach for the red pen...

Katharine said...

Can't wait to read :) I'm sure, typo here or there or not, it'll be fantastic!

Imagine me said...

Actually although I can see it would pall after a number of books I'd just like it to happen once.

I'm glad you're finished though and I can't wait to read the book.

Jo said...

I plan to re-read my copy of The Last Stormlord again in the fairly near future, but marvellous as the book is, I don't think I would want to read it as often as you have to. That is when it is work, not pleasure. What a miserable way to wait for the cable car. I thought Disney was bad enough, but we never queued for 2 hours.

glenda larke said...

Oh dear, what can happen when proofing goes wrong. John Scalzi just put the first chapter of his new book up on his blog. And there, in the second paragraph of the book, is an example:

It was time to whip the god.

Captain Ean Tephe entered the god chamber, small lacquered, filigreed chest in hand. He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other, and the god prostrate in its iron circle, its chains shortened into the circle floor.


I wasn't very keen on the second sentence and the third sentence was probably meant to be something like this:
He found blood and the deck, an acolyte spurting the first and lying shivering on the second, with the god prostrate in its iron circle...etc.

Oddly enough, that makes me feel better about any missed mistakes. John's a Hugo winner ... :)