Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

It seems these days, Wednesdays are sneaking up on me.

That might be because life is so busy. Just this week, I participated in a cemetery re-enacting event, had coffee with a dear writing friend and helped her brainstorm a new project, had two visits from Sears (a fridge, and we’re on #3, don’t even get me started with that!), had lunch with a former editor, attended a friend’s neighborhood association spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

In between all that, of course, I’ve been writing. Or at least trying. I also read over the galleys for "Wild, Wild Death," Pepper Martin mystery #8 which will be released on January 3.

The galley stage is a funny thing. By this time, an author’s already sent in a manuscript, an editor’s read it and offered comments/criticisms/revision ideas. A copy editor has seen it, too. The CE is the person who is charged with looking for inconsistencies (like does the hero have the same color eyes on page 276 as he does on page 3–yeah, yeah, laugh, but it happens. It’s hard to keep this stuff straight!). Once the copy editor has seen the manuscript, the author gets it back one more time.

This is the moment to make any substantial changes and to look over the things the CE has suggested. I’ve been lucky lately, I’ve had a terrific copy editor whose caught some small but important details that needed tweaking.

Then an author sends the manuscript back.

And all gets quiet.

At least until about four months before the book is set to publish.

That’s when the galleys arrive. At this stage, the book has been typeset and the author is seeing what essentially looks like a book that’s been flattened and copied. This is the time for looking for typos, and for only those changes that are absolutely, positively so important, they must be handled. Why? Because every publishing contract I’ve ever signed specifies that at this stage, if an author changes more than 10% of the total words, the author pays to have the book re-typeset. This makes sense, of course, since given the chance, most authors I know would tinker forever.

For me, the galley stage is also the last time I’ll read my book. I have never, ever read one of my books after it’s published. I’m too afraid I won’t like it. Or I’ll find typos. Or I’ll decide the whole thing is just incredibly silly and I never should have bothered.

Clever person that I am, I do all that in the galley stage. The good news is that I enjoyed "Wild, Wild Death." I haven’t seen it in quite a few months, and I’d forgotten most of what happens. A lot of it surprised me. A lot of it had me wondering how poor Pepper would ever get out of whatever trouble she was in. But she did. I did.

The book is done, and I won’t read it again. But I know it’s ready for the world to see!

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