Monday, June 13, 2011

You Want Me To Actually READ My Final Galley? Isn't that Your Job?...words of advice from Nan Swanson in Production

Do you ever wonder what happens to your book in those weeks between the last time you see the galley and when you get a final version with the release date?
You thought you had polished to perfection before you ever submitted your manuscript to The Wild Rose Press, after all. And the editor must have thought it was pretty good, to offer you a contract for it.
But then she sends you an edited copy with track marks all over it – a comma here, a word there, a question, a comment, a quibble... Okay, so you fixed every one of those little problems and even saw a few other spots that could use some tweaking and tweaked them and sent it back.
Lo and behold, back it comes from your editor in a little while with a few more questions and comments, and again you fix and tweak and return. Isn’t it about done now?
Next she sends you a galley, or maybe what she calls a pre-galley, and she asks you to read through and if you see any typos or anything you want to change...oh, but wait. You can’t just change this copy. It’s made so you can’t do anything to it.
What did she say? Make a list with the page numbers and the line numbers? And maybe some words or a phrase so she can be sure what you want to change? Well, you guess you can do that. But it’s a pain, and you get about halfway through the book (at the most) and figure that must be good enough. You haven’t found much of anything you want to change, and you haven’t noticed anything wrong with punctuation, just that one quotation mark that’s two spaces away from the end of its sentence. There can’t be any errors in the last half of the book, can there? Your editor is going through it, too, so she will catch any other errors, surely. And didn’t she mention a copy editor going over it? Well, it will most definitely be perfect. Nothing to worry about. Anyway, you’re busy writing on your next great romance novel and switching gears to proofread the one that’s nearly ready for publication is just such a bother...
After you send in your list, your editor puts in your corrections, asks you to approve the copy she has attached, which you do without even looking at it, really – it doesn’t have any marks on it, to direct your attention to any problems, so why worry? – and she sends the edited manuscript to the copy editor. If the copy editor finds any typographical errors or other problems, she hashes it out with your editor (wonderful person, isn’t she, to deal with all these picky little things!) and gets a final galley from the production department.  
You have already approved it, so can there really be any need for you to look at this final galley, as your editor requests? But you skim through, and it looks lovely with all the margins lined up and everything, the chapters all starting at the same place on their first pages. The dedication makes you cry a little. You do wonder about the paragraph about the author on that page at the end; does it make you seem rather colorless, uninteresting? Hmmm. It could use a little more work. After all, you haven’t even thought about it for months, not since you sent in that form that came with the contract. And is the excerpt at the very beginning quite the right thing to grab a reader? Maybe you should look for a better scene to put there. As you flip through the book to find a better excerpt scene, you happen to see a paragraph you can’t possibly have written. It’s the idea you had in mind, but surely you didn’t write those words. It would be much better said this way...and so you write the improved version (in a separate document, of course, since you can’t change this thing the editor has sent you). Gosh, would there be any more paragraphs like that in here?
You feel the need to check, and you end up reading the whole book and finding a dozen more places where you are sure you have a better idea for the wording, and you write those into your notes for the editor, too. Well, it’s a good thing you happened to see those, isn’t it? You feel sure your editor will be delighted with the improvements you’ve made, and you send them off to her with a note saying, “Approved with these changes. Could I please see it once more, to be sure?” It’s only ten pages of items for her to coordinate with what she has already.   
That strange sound, like steam escaping from a valve, is evidence of your editor’s “delighted” surprise. How many times has she asked you to check the copy? How many times have you had the opportunity to read through the entire manuscript to make any changes in wording that you would like to make? And now you are rewriting? More sounds of hissing steam from the production person as she makes yet another galley copy for your editor because of your belated changes.
To answer the original question: once that final galley copy is made and double-checked for formatting accuracy and approved by you and your editor, it goes to the final production department, where it is assigned a release date. A final release copy is made and sent to you along with the date. A lot goes into making that final release copy. Having to change it is a major operation, so we hope you won’t again find paragraphs you’d like to change to sound a little better. We’re always happy to make necessary changes, although we would like them found earlier than the release copy. But rewriting? revision? word, phrase, and paragraph changes? Please do that during the regular back-and-forth editing, read and re-read carefully whenever your editor asks it of you, and then you can breathe easily when you draw the line on such modifications after giving your approval to a galley. 
...Nancy Swanson, Production Coordinator


NicDarienzo said...

Excellent blog, Nan, LOL and I love the title.

It's a great reminder that we're all a team effort on that finished product.

Another great tool that helps alleviate some of these issues is the preliminary galley--if your editor doesn't do this, ask her to send you one at the end of the editing stage. Then the author and/or a critique partner or trusted friend can read it over while there's still time to make those creative changes.

Great blog Nan, and something that really needed to be said.

Susan Yates said...

Love it, Nan! And so true--reading and re-reading a story is tedious for all concerned, but it's amazing how many mistakes you can find, even after you would have sworn it was perfect!

Jannine Gallant said...

This was great! I could see the steam coming out of your ears. LOL I've learned that the only time I shouldn't read my book (for the 101st time) is when I get the final, final approved galley with a release date. At that point, I figure it's a done deal!

Kathy Otten said...

I'm one of those people who can never stop fixing things, so I understand the need to make it perfect. My editor used to emphasis that the final galley was NOT the time to make creative changes. I never did, but I always had the feeling that others had. From your post I assume it's happened to you a few times. Hopefully, your little reminder will make your life a bit easier in the future.

Sarah_Faery said...

Well said, Nan. Eye rolling and steaming ears often accompany galley changes from authors. That's why we already read it through 7 times...remember?

Jill James said...

Nan, definitely something that needs to be said and understood. Final means final.