Friday, August 28, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XXV

This one will be brief, because, yeah, not much time today. But I've skipped two weeks in a row. I owe a post for those who have been patient with me.

So I knew that there was no way on this planet that the grammar book would be at the conference, even though I had slaved over it at an insane pace, my husband had worked on the techie side for me, my graphic designer had practically put her life on hold to get the cover perfect, and we'd otherwise tried to move the sun and the moon to make this happen.

Nada. It wouldn't be happening. At least not on the timetable we wanted.

But that was okay . . . I could advertise it at the conference, right?

Beforehand, we fixed the minor issues with the cover and interior files, uploaded them again and waited the 24-48 hours for approval. This time they were approved. Phew.

Next step: the hard proof had to be ordered and shipped. When it was approved by me (the quickest that could happen would be in about a week), I could then authorize the book for sale.

Hahahahahhaaaaa! Murphy's Law kicked in. (Murphy likes to laugh.)

Before the conference, I got a bunch of cards printed up that advertised the book. I printed out the cover in color even bigger than the actually cover is. Someone smarter than I am (I forget who was the first to suggest it) pointed out the obvious: why don't I pre-sell the book at the conference? So I did, and more than 20 people ordered it and prepaid for it.

The conference was April 23 and 24. I had faith that I could approve the proof as soon as it arrived, so I figured that there was no way I wouldn't have the books mailed off by May 1.

A lot of those were after I taught my workshop about grammar and punctuation. Coincidence? Doubt it. The class went well, and I had a ball. (Gee whiz note: I'm teaching a similar class at the upcoming Book Academy writing conference in September.)

The hard proof arrived a few days after the conference. I flipped through it, excited to see my perfect little grammar book so many people had asked me to write. I was ready to click on "approve."

But then . . . well, then I found some glaring errors in the text that SOMEHOW I'd overlooked. Several of them. As in . . . around 30.

My jaw dropped in horror. How had that happened? I couldn't sell this book with so many mistakes in it. (I'd forgotten my own rule: if you wrote it, you can't proof it. Your brain fills in the problems and rolls right over mistakes.)

So, I yet again redid the interior file. I edited it, proofed it. (Dumb, I know. Hello?! But I justified it by thinking about all the people e-mailing me asking when their copy would arrive . . . I was trying to hurry it up.)

I uploaded the interior file again. I waited for the file approval, and this time it took longer than usual. I was ready to bite someone's head off (mine, actually). When the approval came, I ordered a second proof and waited anxiously for its arrival.

When it landed on my doorstep, I tore open the envelope and, to my increasing horror, saw fewer, but more (new!) errors. I was near tears by this point, ready to take a torch to the whole project. But I couldn't do that. I made as many corrections as I could on my own, printed the thing out on a hard copy and then (cluing in a bit here), handed it over to my husband (known for his eye for detail) to help me proof it.

He pulled out a pencil and started writing all over it. Um, not a good sign. He noticed a bunch of little stuff: a formatting inconsistency here, a stray period there floating around there, and awkward sentence there. He found all kinds of stuff. While my heart sank with each mark he made, I knew he was right on target with 99% of them.

Dang it.

He also suggested that I open each chapter with a small introduction instead of launching into my examples and the actual rules with each chapter. Which makes total sense. Transitions are much easier on the reader. Duh, why didn't I think of that?

So I wrote new stuff. It wasn't a lot, just a few paragraphs here and there. A little niggling in the back of my head said to send those pages to my critique group just to have other eyes look at it, but I pushed the thought away.

I'm in a hurry. I don't have time for that. These are really short intros. I can do this much without them. I write articles all the time without my critique group reading them, for Pete's sake. I can surely do this without them. Besides, I have over twenty people waiting on me, and I'm WEEKS past what I already promised them. They gave me their money in good faith, and I owe them a book NOW!

Yeah. Let's just say that making decisions under pressure like that?

Not the smartest way to do things.


Kristina P. said...

I didn't realized you proofed your own book!

Chas Hathaway said...

This is such a great series. Love your blog. I've given you the Lemonade award! See my blog for details.

- Chas

Janet Kay Jensen said...

I don't understand how new errors can show up in the process! How does that happen?

Annette Lyon said...

I'm sure you've done it yourself, Janet--say you make a revision to a sentence, but inadventently forget to change the tense. Or now it needs a comma and you left it out. Or whatever.

Any time you change something, you're open to new errors being introduced. So updated and fixed things, but by that very fact, I introduced the possibility of NEW mistakes.

That's why at my publisher we have several line edits and several proofs--because at each and every stage, either someone can miss an error, or someone can insert one.

The joys.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that this book was such a nightmare for you! I'm so sorry! (And yet...I treasure mine so I can't be that sorry!)

Jo said...

Good advice for many things in life I think, not just books. Sorry about that happening though, sounds horrible!

Luisa Perkins said...

That is just what happened when I tried to proof the cookbook myself. Oy. Fortunately, I think we've now caught most of the mistakes.


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