Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Page proofs

Here’s a post at Kill Zone Blog: The page proof nightmare

In the traditional publishing world, milestones define the production cycle of a book.  You turn in the manuscript, then you get the global edit from the editor.  Next come the larger structural changes and you turn those in.  Copy edits are next…

The final step is the one I hate – the page proofs.  That milestone is my last shot at making sure that the book is exactly what I want it to be.  Did the copy edits I rejected make it through anyway?  Have any other errors made it through?  …

For me, this is a staggeringly stressful process. … Once I get lost in the “fictive dream” … I don’t see the little stuff.  So, for the page proofs, I have to force myself to . . . Read.  Every.  Word.  It takes forever.

I hate page proofs.

Ouch!

Actually . . . although I get what Gilstrap means about getting lost in the fictive dream (a very nice place to be lost imo), I enjoy page proofs.

You don’t have to try to figure out how to do a biggish change as per your editor’s advice. You don’t have to stop every second page to evaluate a copy editor’s suggestion. You can just . . . read every word. Straight through.

It’s the nearest thing to seeing your book in print that you’ll have until it’s, you know, actually in print. You probably aren’t going to read it at that point — it’s in print! Yay! But you are super familiar with it and beside, you just read the page proofs.

For me, reading the page proofs is like . . . reading a book. Sure, every now and then I’ll pause and make a little change. But mainly I turn the pages thinking, “Oh, I forgot about this scene, but it works pretty well!” and “Hey, that’s a nice sentence.” Not only that, but if a sentence isn’t nice, I can actually whip out a colored pencil and fix it so it IS a nice sentence. I wish I could do that AFTER publication too, as I’m certain to happen across things I want to change every single time I open a real copy.

By and large, for me, the reading experience is a pleasure for page proofs — the stage when it’s easiest to imagine the reader’s own reading experience. When I enjoy the page proofs, it makes me feel that yes, there’s a pretty good chance readers will enjoy the book.

Yet another example of Everyone’s Process Being Different. I just bet Gilstrap likes developmental edits better than I do.

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6 Comments Page proofs

  1. Rachel

    Could be! Every now and then I have to read a page twice, but mainly, if I’m concentrating on reading alllll the words, that’s different enough to help me keep in mind that I’m proofing.

  2. Pete Mack

    … and whatever you do, make sure never to mistake discrete and discreet. It is an error most discretely* indiscreet. (I see this one surprisingly often, even in professionally published books. Quite annoying.)

    * improper synonym for distinctly, too bad.

  3. Rachel

    Pete, I must confess that this is one where I have to pause and gaze at the words for a second to remember which is which. And if I’m typing fast, I can throw the wrong word in there. I SHOULD catch that before the copy editor has to …

    One of my personal favorites was when I meant Cyprus but put in Cypress, and only caught that at the very, very last minute. But hey! At least I did catch it.

  4. Pete Mack

    Webster’s online has a nice rule: discrete has the ‘t’ between two *separated* ‘e’s.

  5. Rachel

    Pete, that’s handy. I’m going to tuck that away as a good, reliable way to check, even though I bet my fingers still won’t be sure of the difference for a while.

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