Flash forward to when you have a publisher. So, early on, the publisher sends back their edits/thoughts. Luckily for me, I’d polished the manuscript within an inch of its language so there weren’t a lot of things to haggle over or change or fix, very few (BB has been happy with me *smiling*). After that’s done and everyone agrees to changes/edits, etc, and they’ve been implemented, the manuscript goes to the person who fits it to look like the book will look and this is the galley that is to be proofed: this galley I had was in PDF form. This is what I’ve been up to since I returned home.
First you write the book. I could say: first you come up with the idea and then think about it, write notes, do an outline, etcetera – but that’s not how I ‘work’ – everyone has their way. So, you write the book. There it sits: your first draft (or shitty rough draft as Anne Lamott writes). Then come re-writes and re-writes and all that jazz. So, all these things happen and by time you have the Completed Manuscript, it’s darn near perfect, right? Well, probably not, but who needs perfection, huh? (I do! I do! Kat says as she jumps up and down raising her hand and wiggling it wildly! teeheehee)
When you get that, that is the time to SCOUR it for tiny missed errors. Now, think about this: you’ve already polished that manuscript, maybe you’ve had a couple of friends who have eagle eyes to scour it, you read it with a fine-toothed eye before it even goes to the publisher/agent/whatever- you think there cannot possibly be errors left: the publishers get it and they find some things — okay, so you go through it another time, fix their found errors and in the process find a few more and you fix those: but, now – well now there just can’t be errors! The book has been scoured clean. Nuh uh, think again….you get the galley and start reading and, well, huhn. So, the copyingediting is done at the publishers, but for me, nothing beats my own eyes – I read the galley and so did Good Man Roger. You would not BELIEVE the little things that hide from you – after all those readings and scourings, there were so many little tiny errors that were missed!
Things like: it’s and its (even when you know the difference, things happen), or your Momma versus your momma, or even a big SNAFU of a date or age of a character!…eeek!….or backwards quotes, or missing dialogue end or beginning quotes, or you find where the character is sitting and then you have her sitting again and you go “HOW HOW DID I MISS THAT? ARGH!!!” It’s scary the things you find. The only way I could read my galley was to read it Word by Word – different from ‘regular reading.’ I found things even Good Man Roger missed, and he has Eagle Eyes.
Yes, the publishers have their own copyediting they do, but, I felt it was my responsibility as the author of Tender Graces to make sure I scoured my own book for errors – it does help I am an editor and used to scouring things for errors…but when it’s your own, you have to see the WORDS not the language and story – does that make sense?
When you make marks on the galley, you don’t send them back to the publisher like you do on the earlier one; instead, you make a list: Page 101, line five from the top, there are two periods at the end of the sentence. Page 205, line seven from the bottom, it’s should be its…. et-cetera! Then when you have the list done, you send it back to the publishers and someone there plugs in the corrections. Then, if I understand right, I get to peep at it one more time, quickly….then it is out of my hands. Error-free, or not error-free. It is Out.Of.My.Hands. *gulp* — and soon into yours.
Yet, despite all this, I know something was probably missed. Or somethings. Or that when it is all set up in the final form and ready to go to printers, something could go awry: a paragraph wonky or whatever. I am going to have to do as you all have said and Let It Go.
Here it is: I have much more understanding and sympathy to authors now; when I now read a novel and find errors, I won’t think: well, what’s going on here? (a caveat to that is sloppy work; I’m not talking about sloppy books – I’m talking about errors that slip through here and there) — because I now see more clearly how easy it is to miss something. How you can go in to fix one thing and it messes up something else – how deadlines and exhaustion and seeing the manuscript so many times and all manner of whatevers happen….
Know this: if Tender Graces has an error (or two or three?) in it, it won’t be because BelleBooks and Kathryn Magendie did not SCOUR it and SCOUR it good. Stuff happens.
One thing I know that is going to drive me crazy, and now I know for the second Virginia Kate book to say something ahead of time: In all my stuff and when I edit, I always ask for the first paragraph of a chapter or new section to be un-indented-flush with the left margin: it’s a pet peeve of mine…oh oh, Oops – I didn’t know to specify this. It’s too late now. It will be indented and it will made me nutty, and it’s such a small thing *LAUGH* There is another small thing, so small I won’t even mention it — just Kat’s Things She is Weird About.
Despite all of this madness — while I was scouring Tender Graces one night, propped up on pillows in bed, just for a change of scenery (and exhaustion), I suddenly grinned – a big fat grin – because it occurred to me just what I was doing at that moment: I was proofing the galley to my Virginia Kate novel. It is happening, I said to myself. I grinned and nestled into the pillow, held my pen, made a mark: there, there, and there….my words, imperfect, but Mine….and soon to be Yours.