On the 3rd of May I blogged about copy edits, the 2nd stage of editing my novel. Today the subject of this blog is proofing, which is the last stage before the book goes to the printers.
Proofing is done in writeable pdf format. You open the proof file which you’ve received from your editor, click on Comment, and this opens an Annotations box, which is full of helpful editing tools such as “delete”, “insert”, “replace with” and more, which allow you to make comments on the actual typeset document.
In contrast to the 1st and 2nd editing phase, proofing is only for minimal changes like missing words, repetitions, punctuation mistakes, etc., and a final spell check. Because the document has already been typeset to look exactly like your book will in print, you can’t make too many changes as this carries the risk that the text will go over the page and will have to be partially typeset again.
Having said that, if you discover that both you and your editor have missed out a word which will then take the text over the page, there’s usually scope for deleting a word further down or on the next page, so it balances out or so only two pages will have to be typeset again.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending in perspective…) this is also the stage where you suddenly notice all those tiny little mistakes you never saw before because back then you were concentrating on getting the story right, and then the language. I never realised there were so many ways to use the word “flick” – my characters flick their hair, flick the light switch, flick the kettle on, flick through the pages of a book. Needless to say, I flicked some of those in the trash!
So what happens next? After the proofing stage the book goes back to the typesetter who incorporates the last few changes. Off it then goes to the printers, and a few weeks after that you’ll take delivery of a box of shiny new author copies.
Is it now time for me to sit back and rest on my laurels? Hmm, maybe not. There was something else I needed to do. What was it?
Oh, yes, write another book…
My previous publisher did all our edits on hard copy. My poor postman would deliver a big brown bag with page proofs – and I would read them with a pencil in my hand. Electronic editing will be such an improvement next time.
Although I sometimes find that technology moves a little bit too fast for me, this nifty little editing tool is just perfect. So glad I didn’t have to work on hard copy!
Fascinating post, Henri. You’re just ahead of me (I’m doing final edits) so it was really interesting to learn from you what to expect in a few weeks time! I wonder what my repetitive haunting phrase will be. I’ll let you know… after, of course, it’s too late me for me to address all of them:)
Interesting to see what I’ve got to look forward to – or dread – we shall see! Good luck with starting the next book
Beverley and Angela – Glad you found it useful. It doesn’t seem quite so daunting when it’s been broken down into its various “components”, I find.
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I’m just about to start round one of editing for the first time, so not only did I find this blog really useful, I went back to see part 2 and 3 as well. At least now it won’t all be a total shock to my system, so thank you very much – very informative and excellent timing!
Kathryn – I wish someone had taken the time to explain to me how it works. When we worked on my first novel, it was quite different, but I think the process with TEG is more like it normally is. So you’ve got the fun bits to look forward to!
I’m sure this will be really useful to many writers, thank you Henriette.
Finished edits a couple of weeks ago, and found it to be both exhausting and rewarding. (I find masochism a useful personailty trait). Thanks for such informative blogs, Henri.
I’m getting more nervous about them by the day. Thanks for sharing this.
You’ll be fine, Jules!
I’ve found your posts on editing really interesting Henri-thank you!