Someone asked me once – during an interview – what I disliked about writing. My answer, stock though it was, was that there are no bad parts of writing. I think I still stick with that answer, but I have to admit that there’s one part of the whole process that drives me absolutely bonkers.
Page proofs. Ugh.
When I write a book for my publisher, the process is segmented. I send the manuscript to her, she reviews it and returns it (a four month process). I make the changes and it goes back to her. She passes it off to the copyeditor. The copyeditor makes changes and sends it to me. I approve, reject, or add changes and back it goes again. The third part of this 4-6 month process is when I get the page proofs. Those are pages that look exactly like the book, with two book pages on each proof page. They used to be sent to me next day air. Now they’re electronic. My tired little eyes are so happy about that change. There’s a reason I read ebooks more than paperbacks – it’s easy to change the size of the type.
The reason page proofs are so much a pain for me is that I have to check every single word and read slowly. I see sections where I wish I’d changed the wording. It doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. Unfortunately, it’s way too late to change anything major at this stage. By the time I’ve gotten to the end of almost 400 pages I’m a little depressed because I know every single one of those pages where I could have done better. (This is normal for writers, I think. I believe that there are more “down” moments than “up” moments for writers. Writing is a case of accepting those and just moving on.)
All this is to explain that I’ve been doing page proofs for the last two days and I’ve finally finished them. Yay! Nothing is as grueling as page proofs to my eyes and my psyche. 🙂
When I write a book that I publish myself I can do all those steps at once. I actually do a page proof kind of thing by reading the finished book on Kindle, before it’s published. That way I can see what it looks like in the final stage. By the time an independently published book is live it’s had all these stages (with me being editor and copyeditor), but it’s been done in a smaller amount of time. I think that system has spoiled me a little for the “traditional” publishing process.
I’m in the process of writing a new book now and the process starts all over again. I won’t get to the page proof stage on this book until next year. (Thank heavens.)