Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Burden of Proofing*

Talk about mixed emotions. One day a little email appears in my inbox, telling me that page proofs for my forthcoming book on Joan Davis are ready for my review. This is good news, right? I've worked hard on this book over the last couple of years. I'm proud of the new information I've uncovered about her life and career, and I'm eager for readers to see it. I download the page proofs and they look terrific. Even before I wrote books for McFarland, I often read their books, and I loved the way they looked. They've taken my manuscript and made it into a beautiful book (love the new typeface, by the way!)

So what's the downside? Well, there's the little matter of proofreading. For the past week or so I've spent a lot of hours staring at those pages, trying to nip anything in the bud that I don't want found in the finished book. Even after a good copy editor has done his or her best to clean me up, there are still little things here and there. I'm really good at leaving words out sentences -- er, out of sentences -- and that's always a hazard. Sometimes things have changed since I turned in the manuscript -- sadly, my reference to Shirley Temple (born 1928) now needs to read (1928-2014). Despite all my best efforts, there will be flaws in the book when it's published. For someone like me, who's capable of slight perfectionist tendencies, that's frustrating.

But in a couple more days, I will send my corrections to the nice folks in Jefferson, North Carolina, and then wait for that day when the UPS man delivers ten author copies of the book to my front doorstep. And even after five books, that's pretty exciting.

*with apologies to Scott Turow

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