Tuesday, 28 October 2008
The proof is in the post
My upcoming book, Ecologic, has reached the next stage of its development - proofs. I gather that back in the stone age, when books were set by hand, these were often in galley form, long sheets of paper with multiple pages on, but now they're just like any other output from a standard laser printer, with the properly laid-out contents of a book page centred on the A4 or letter sized sheet.
It might seem a tedious task, going through a book page-by-page, looking for errors, but I enjoy it, normally get through much quicker than the two weeks that publishers typically allow for it. I have to confess to having a special red pen I only use for this - in a childish way it makes it more fun.
By now it has been long enough since I last read the book that I can come to it almost fresh, and there's a sense of surprise along the lines of 'hey, this really isn't bad.' Embarrassingly, I enjoy reading my own stuff at this point, because it's pretty well always better than I imagine it's going to be.
The biggest problem is making myself slow down. I tend to read very quickly, which is fine to get the idea of the book, but not to check every word. I have to pretend I'm reading it aloud to find as many of those slips as I can. But despite my efforts and two other proof readers, something will slip through. It always does.
(Left, proof of Ecologic, first page of chapter 1)