I am delighted to announce, that at 5.50pm on Wednesday 27 May 2015, two pallets of books entered my life. After quick checks – cover colour ok; no inverted text; no pages missing – the books were pronounced saleable. Author and publisher are both doing well. So now, when people ask whether I have a family, I can reply ‘Yes, I have 3 boys and a book!’
There were, of course, several last minute hiccups in the printing, which turned out for the best. For example, when progress stalled while designer Debra and Griffin’s Emma tried to sort out why fractions weren’t printing, I decided to do another final proofread of the already finally proofread document.
The errors one finds when proofreading a travel narrative are intriguing. For example, an incorrect or misspelt place name would only be picked up by readers who live there or are familiar with the place. So, if Bill Bryson incorrectly named an American town, I wouldn’t pick it as an error unless it was obviously misspelt. But if he said ‘East Fuggville’ instead of ‘West Fuggville’, I wouldn’t know it was wrong, but by golly, those West Fuggers certainly would – watch out Bill!
Introduced errors – the ones you make when editing – are a pain in the butt, especially if they are last minute changes because they may escape further scrutiny and get printed. Having done countless hours of editing, rewriting and proofing – and introduced errors several times in the process – I am well aware of these dangers. When I find an error in a book I am reading, I usually pause to think about how it may have occurred. Often I think it was most likely a last minute change, or the consequence of an earlier change, the editor not realising the potential for flow-on effects.
Simple typos are the worst errors, as every reader will pick them up and wonder why you didn’t! I wrote most of Southern Cross Safari on an ageing computer. Well, that’s not quite right; it was new when I started, but obsolete by the time I penned the final words. Along the way it went on strike, telling me my document was far too big for spell check to work, so from now on I should use a dictionary – or words to that effect. I now use that cheeky laptop for picture storage.
So my last, fast, furious proofread did yield some errors, mainly small ones, but one, along the lines of the Bryson example above, a biggie – was my face red! I’m sure the book will still have mistakes, but hopefully only small ones that most people will read over.
So, the writing/printing/publishing finishes, and the marketing begins – last night! I donated one of my newly minted books to the silent auction at the ACT Conservation Council’s annual fund raising dinner. It sold for $75, well in excess of its $35 RRP, which is a good sign for the future. I also sold several copies to friends who had patiently waited through the birth pangs, so overall it was a good start to my new life as a book seller.