Friday, November 12, 2010

Sending It Off

The process of submitting a book for printing is fascinating.  The publication of Solomon's Puzzle turned out to be a community effort, which is so fitting and cool because the novel is about community. The editors and I had a schedule, which one of us created, and the we all lived by. The schedule was designed in an excel format and had 22 steps color coded to show at a glance who was responsible for meeting what deadline when. We, the editors of Blessing House Press, were responsible for 19 of those steps.

They began with 3 passes for content editing on each chapter. It went this way: I did everything I could think of to edit and improve a chapter. I sent it to Kristen, who read carefully and thought of what else we should cut or move or improve or fix. Kristen had a wonderful way of suggesting we cut things, but her being kind about it meant a lot more work for her because she wrote long notes explaining her reasoning in reference to the important ideas, the literary elements and the overall impact. When she agreed to do the project, I knew she'd do an excellent job, but I was overwhelmed by the skill, dedication and heart she brought to the book.

So after the first pass at a chapter, we looked at it again-- twice.

Next the chapter went to Care who "copyedited" it. Now, ordinary copyediting is supposed to be about looking at commas, but Care is not an ordinary anything. She saw the first chapter and realized we had to design a format for the look of the book. So she got herself a double job. She read for consistency, logical sequence, correctness and she designed  how each page would look.

After each round of editing, the chapter must be again looked at because changing anything somehow results in more mistakes. You know this from your own work. You think you just took out a comma, but by mistake you took out a space too, or added one or put an extra d in ddelight.

Finally we sent the chapters, two by two, because by this time the final deadline was looming, to the Joe who scrutinized the wording, the structure and all the little details that bug careful readers. This meant more corrections, more review.

Everyone worked so hard, so carefully, so faithfully and cheerfully. I am so grateful to them. Care suggested we black out each block of the schedule when we finished that task. This spreading sea of black was very encouraging! We met our deadlines in the end, helping each other and adjusting the schedule when it proved impossible.

We packed it up. The printer, United Book Press, asks that you upload the files to their ftp site and then provide a hard copy because they check every page!

We drove it up there and in two days, the proofs were waiting for me.

I know I'm a book nerd, but I remembered the scene from Little Women where Jo comes home and finds the proofs for her novel on the kitchen table. I remembered because during the dark days of February I used to show this movie to my American Lit students. It's an important part of American Lit and the movie is so well done. And every year, three or four times per year depending on how many sections of American Lit I taught, my eyes teared up with hope and longing at that scene.  It was a pretty wonderful moment.

The last three steps on the schedule had to do with printing and of those I was responsible for only one step -- re reading the entire manuscript to see "if everything was right." I hope you're laughing, because that's a hilarious idea. I had read it so many times, how would I see anything?
The manuscript is printed in 32 page signatures. These are folded and marked on the spine in the way you see so that things stay in order!

But I read it and found a few things, which I hope will be corrected smoothly.

Now I'm waiting...


  1. I remember watching Little Women in your class. I was on a Little Women kick last month and watched it several times. Gary could hear the movie's dialogue from his man cave (his office/computer room/board game room), and every time I opened the refrigerator for the entire month of October he would ask "Oh, isn't butter divinity?"

    I'm so happy that you're getting closer and closer to sharing your beautiful novel with every one!