The Writer’s Corner: Typeset Proof Pages
- revision after receiving an editor’s notes,
- review of copy-edited manuscript, and
- proofreading the typeset pages (galleys).
Each phase has its own difficulties and challenges. At present, I am in phase 3 for MW2: Witches in Red. The most painful difficulty for any writer in this phase is a hard-set rule laid down by the publisher…
Correct only typos. Do NOT edit the content.
They are dead serious. You’d think this rule would make proofreading typeset pages easier. It does not. Once I see my lovely words all laid out in perfect typeset, I suddenly see every over-used word, every awkward phrase, and every sentence that needs another revision… and I cannot address any of those things. My job is to look for typos.
Now, the publisher is not trying to torture me. Among important reasons for this rule is that this is the very last phase before the book goes to press. If I request an editorial change at this point, it means that someone in the production department has to re-typeset the master file. There is a chance that he or she may inadvertently add another typo that wasn’t there before… and will not be found because there will not be a second typeset proofing phase.
This happens. We are all just human.
Readers who review books on Amazon rage against and bemoan typos in professionally published novels. Even with copy-editors, professional proofreaders, and author review, if an editorial request is made at this last stage and a typo gets inadvertently added… that typo goes to press.
It’s embarrassing for everyone. So you can see why the publishers are so firm on the rule: do NOT edit the content.
Sometimes a writer doesn’t have a choice. If there is an inconsistency or something missed in the content, a change request has to be made.
With the recently released volume in the Noble Dead Saga, S3B3: A Wind in the Night, J.C. and I caught a scene during proofing the galleys where previously both we and the copy-editor missed a situation in which Chane and Osha are inside a room and crack the door to peer out. Afterward, Chane closes the door; two lines later, Osha closes the door. Yikes!
This made it all the way into the typeset proof pages, and we had to write to our editor and say, “Um… we missed something.” Of course, the publisher wanted us to flag that. If it wasn’t revised, it would have more embarrassing than any typo that made it into print.
However, having said all of the above, as I go through the typeset pages for Witches in Red, I cannot help longing to do another full edit of the manuscript. And I can’t. This happens to me (and J.C.) every time we reach this phase, and I’ve heard many other writers say the same thing.
So for you folks out there who sell a book to a publisher, prepare yourself so that you really understand when you get to this step. It is difficult to contain yourself and simply search for typos. Trust me.