I received the galleys for SUFFER THE CHILDREN last week. Galleys, I learned, are the final proofs of a book before it goes to publication.
I don’t know what format galleys take for a print book. Mine arrived in the form of a PDF document, that had the acknowledgements, dedication and back cover blurb included as well as the manuscript. It arrives in PDF format is so you can’t mess about with the formatting. I was also sent a separate word document in which to list any changes I wanted to make.
Read the galley very carefully, my editor told me. It’s the last chance you get to make changes. I took this advice on board, and took a day off work so I could give it my full attention. By 9am yesterday I was at my computer, ready to read my galleys – just like a proper writer.
I thought at the time, how many changes can there be? The manuscript has gone through countless edits already. I’ve read it so many times the text has burned itself onto the back of my eyelids. It’s also gone through a copy editor (several times) and line editor.
Even so, on first reading, I picked up rather a lot of things that needed correcting. Missing punctuation. Punctuation in the wrong place. Missed words.
So I went onto the second reading. And picked up even more errors. More missing words. More errant punctuation. Even glaring consistency errors that had somehow managed to slip through (I have one of my major characters in black-framed glasses near the beginning of the novel, and gold-framed glasses a bit later on).
By the end of the second readthrough, I was starting to think that the mistakes were somehow reproducing themselves. And the more I read it through, the more would magically appear. By that point, though, it was gone 11pm and my eyes were getting blurry. I decided to bite the bullet. Anything I’ve not picked up by now, I’m not going to see. And I emailed the worksheet back to my editor.
I fear that a mistake or two (or three) will have slipped through. But I’ve read many published books with editing mistakes in them, and I now have a new appreciation of the editing process. No matter how often you edit a manuscript, you will still find mistakes. In fact, it seems the more you read, the more you find.
So, now I am done. The manuscript is now out of my hands, and I no longer have any influence on the version that will appear with publication. I can live with it. Maybe there’s still a misplaced set of punctuation marks in there somewhere, but if there is, it’s not the end of the world. Maybe I’ll get some vigilant reader emailing me with a list of mistakes. I can handle it. At least it will prove they read it.
And on a further positive note, SUFFER THE CHILDREN is now on Lyrical Press’s ‘Coming Soon’ page. Check it out (it’s right down the bottom, with the other 19 April releases).