This week begins one of the most exciting times of preparing my book for publication: the final read through. Or what I hope and pray to the literary gods will be the final read through.
A few weeks ago, I formatted my manuscript for The Maze (which now has its own webpage, ooh, ahh) to meet all the requirements that will turn it in to a lovely paperback book (more on why I do a print book later). Since this is the third book in the series, and I want each book in the series to have a similar look, the formatting was pretty much just replacing the previous book’s content with the new book’s content (okay, it’s a tad more involved than that, but it’s nothing like formatting a book from scratch…a topic which could be fodder for a future blog post).
Anyway, with book formatted, buttons pressed to magically transform it into a PDF, and file uploaded along with my fancy new cover to Createspace, I then wasted a bit of time pacing the house like an expectant father from the 1950s, just hoping Createspace would approve the files.
Finally (after about 24 hours) the email came through that all files were good to go. Yay!! I dashed onto the computer to order my proof copy. Once it arrived, I snapped a few pictures of my new baby like any proud parent. Then, I crammed my baby into a drawer and ignored it for four weeks (it’s probably good I didn’t have kids).
Why did I neglect my child? Let’s just say, I needed a break from it (again, very good I didn’t reproduce). Stephen King (perhaps making a statement about his own parenting skills) in On Writing actually recommends ignoring your book for something like six months before you give it a final read through. Six months! Yeah right! I may not have the patience for that amount of time off, but I do know ignoring a book before heading into the final stretch of publication is vital because it allows you to see the book with fresh eyes.
And believe me, with all the errors one of my beta readers is catching**, this book demands fresh eyes. It’s an amazing bit of neuroscience (me having come from the realm of neuroscience research in a past life) that I have read this manuscript at least five times now and, because my eyes and brain have gotten so used to what they’re supposed to see, they don’t see what is actually there, including typos, missing words, duplicate words, and the like. Sometimes brains adapt too well.
**However, another beta reader has already raved about how quickly she was sucked into the story and couldn’t put it down. Woohoo!
After fours weeks, my brain feels fresh and clean (I’ve swabbed it out with several doses beer and wine) and I’m ready to tackle that final reading. While this is exciting, it’s also nerve-wracking. I’m desperately hoping I only find typos and grammatical errors, not plot holes that will require another round of rewrites. I would keep my fingers crossed, but then I would just end up with more typos.
So why I do a print book for this final read through? After all, the proof copy costs me something like $8, which equates to a couple beers during some happy hour offers around Portland. Why not just format it for an ebook and use that?
Because although I will endure ebooks for some reading (such as during travel when I would go way over the baggage weight limit if I took all the print books I wanted to), I am not an ebook reader. I prefer to have a “real” book in hand when I read. Plus, when I see a mistake, I can easily whip out the red pen and mark up my proof copy…and believe me, these proof copies look like a scene from a Scorsese movie (or a wedding in Westeros) by the time I’m done with them.
And for those of you who think print books may be dead, here’s bizarre statistic…of my book sales so far this year, I’ve sold eight times the number of print books than ebooks. Bizarre indeed.
Sorry, this has turned into a rambling, pointless post, but I promise I’ll be back Saturday with something a little more inebriating from Finn McSpool.