Proofreading and Book Block Blues

It seems that something always happens during the last stage of converting an edited, proofread manuscript into finished/published book. At this point, the proofreader turns the book over to the author for one last read through.
As the writer, I read it one more time and send any changes back to be incorporated in what is known as the “book block.” The book block is the first step in converting a Word or Pages document into a format that looks like an e-book. As an author, it is the first time you see it with the ISBN number, all the printer info that is on the book, the type face and how it appears, page by page.

Again, the publishing house sends it back to the author for another read through. At the end, if you like it, you complete the sign-off form and send it back to the publisher. Two to three weeks later, it is released in both e-book and hard copy.

I’m super sensitive to the proofreading aspect of it because I am a terrible proofreader. When Cherubs 2 first came out, it was an unmitigated disaster. There were hundreds of typos and reviewers hammered the book (that means me) for it. Furious, I had Fireship pull it off the market. We got most of it fixed, but in my mind, it needs another read through and proofing.

After I’ve written the first draft, edited it several, sometimes a dozen times or more and then gone through the editing process, I don’t “see” what’s on the page. Version control is critical throughout the editing process and even more so at this stage. If someone doesn’t maintain the “golden copy,” things can get bollixed up in a hurry.
What I’ve tried to do at this stage is make sure that only one person is working on the manuscript at a time. That’s easy for me to say and do, but not so with the publisher. They have editors, proofreaders and technicians who create the book block and one would think that there is a linear flow through the company. At least it should be, but it is not.

Now, each time I get a book block, I force myself to read it out loud to find any typos or sentences that don’t read well. It forces you to look at the page with a different part of your brain. Then, when the book block comes back with the changes, one has to go through it again and make sure the changes are made. So again, version control is key. He or she who has the golden copy is the ONLY one who can make changes. When that person is done, he/she passes it on to the next person in the production chain.

It took four versions of the book block of Inner Look to get it right! There should have been only two. Version control, or the lack of it, bit us in the butt.

The good news is that Inner Look made its debut on March 12th, 2017. YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!

Marc Liebman
March 2017

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