from manuscript to bookstore -- the publishing process

First pass pages
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Just got the "first pass pages" back from Bantam. This is the book, typeset as it will appear, but not bound. My job is to proofread carefully, picking up typos, layout booboos, etc. Bantam will be doing this, too, but my input's important, especially in places where a mistake's been made that still leaves the sentence reading well in English but misses my original meaning. Layout is crucial in this book, by the way. That's not always true; my earlier books were pretty straightforward, just paragraphs and chapters. This one, though, has flashbacks and newspaper stories, and they need to be set off from the "real-time" text.

This is a pretty clean set of pages. There've been a couple of typos, and a couple of layout problems. My editor and I had decided to put double spaces between "real-time" text and flashbacks, and sometimes they're not there, which will make readers crazy. But in general it's clean, which I partly attribute to Bantam's creating this version from my computer file. That's something my previous publisher didn't do. This means the compositor didn't make typos where there weren't any already, except in any new material handwritten in on the copy-edited version that then had to be typed in. There was a lot of that, relatively speaking. It was complicated -- lots of circles and arrows -- and I'm impressed with how well it's been handled, so far.

This, by the way, is a process I always find fairly unpleasant. I'm always disappointed in a book at this stage. It's too long, too clumsy, both too obvious and too obscure... You get the picture. This is one too many times I have to read this book. When I was in architecture school we used to say of a finished design that it was inevitably bigger than you wanted, smaller than you needed, more expensive than you'd hoped and less wonderful than you'd imagined. Same here.

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