Proofing the Proof

Ere I Saw Elba Proof Copy

Ere I Saw Elba Proof Copy

Two days ago, I received the proof copy of my new novel, Ere I Saw Elba, in the mail. My POD publisher refers to this proof copy as “galleys,” but given that I’m old enough to have published a book through a traditional publisher that sent me real galleys to edit, I know the difference and realize this use of the term is simply a linguistic play to make POD publisher appear more reputable. Whatever. I rip open the Fed-Ex package and revel in a bound copy of the novel that filled so much of my “free time” during the last four years. My reveling quickly fades.

As soon as I open the book, I find a mistake—a mistake that few, if any, will ever notice. Does this anxiety-provoking flaw make me turn an editorial eye to every word and comma? Nope. I race through the pages, quickly assessing whether there are any major layout issues resulting from the printing (unlike traditional galleys, where the author can make any edits that don’t change the structure of the page—i.e don’t force the last word on the page to flow over to the subsequent page, for POD proofs, the only changes you can make without paying an additional set-up fee are changes incurred by printing errors.) Why the counter-intuitive nonchalance?

  1. I am up against a book tour deadline for which my hosting bookstores have put in their orders two weeks ago.
  2. I also am so busy at work that I have absolutely no time—even in my insomniatic pre-dawn hours—to spend one more minute editing this manuscript.

These excuses are all too true, but there is also another deeper truth. I am terrified of once again entering the editorial abyss. If there are any authors reading this blog, you know what I mean. The editorial abyss is like the Hotel California—once you check in, it is extremely difficult to leave.

After my cursory review, I approved Ere I Saw Elba for printing, knowing all too well that there will likely be a gut-wrenching editorial gaffe lurking somewhere within. Fortunately, I also know that if said gaffe bothers me too much, I can at any time re-publish if I choose to pay another set-up fee. This is one of the benefits of POD publishing. I finally did this with Able Was I, and so for all copies printed after March of 2009, readers will no longer be jarred mid-sentence on page 222 by a nonsensical “picnic attack.”

Upon finishing this post, I put my proof copy of Ere I Saw Elba in my bookshelf beside my proof copy of Able Was I. Like the thematically related storylines of the two books, the covers were intentionally designed with structural similarities, particular the spines. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my graphic designer camper them side by side. See below.

Able Was I & Ere I Saw Elba Side

Able Was I & Ere I Saw Elba Side

Do I pay the additional set-up see to fix the mismatched spinal graphics? Nope. Instead I have just separated the books on two different shelves. Regardless of what anyone says, denial can be so comforting at times.

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