The digital proofs for Confluence arrived the other day. This is a PDF of the typeset book.
It looks like a book. It’s the last stage before the books are actually printed. From this we get the green galleys—uncorrected proofs—that we can start sending out to people to read.
We do one final read. (Optional, according to the publisher, for they have someone doing the final read as well.) In our case, Sherylyn does the final read. She does nearly all the editing from the copy edits on. (It’s great to have two people with different skill-sets working on a book.)
You can’t change anything at this stage, only pick up errors.
Meantime, we have moved onto the next book, and there has been time between our last copy edit and this typeset document arriving, so this is the first read in a long time that we actually have some objectivity reading the book. Beforehand, we have been so immersed in the story we have no objectivity at all.
There are a few things we’d change. Clunky paragraphs here and there, repeated information. But overall, Sherylyn’s enjoying the read.
Our editor sent back further edits for Confluence. They’re due on Monday.
Around this time in the editing process Sherylyn does most of the work. I get to relax (mostly), and every so often follow along to see what the edits are and whether I agree with them.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes. Sure. That sounds good. Hmmm. Not sure about this one. I’m going to change it. Are you okay with this change? Yes, yes, yes, yes.”
The book is off to the copy editor on Monday.
We’re far enough removed from Confluence now to see some things we’d like to improve, but we don’t have the time. I think every writer does that, can’t let the story go. What is the definition of done?
This final tidy up has cleaned the book up nicely, though. It’s good.
Last night over dinner we had a long chat about what we learned writing these three books, what we’d do again, and what we’d do differently next time.
Mid-February our editor, Anne Sowards, returned Confluence with marked up with comments and suggestions for revisions.
Sherylyn and I talked through the main changes she suggested—storylines to cut/add, suggestions for improvements—and agreed on the basic changes we planned to make.
Then we started work. Sherylyn went through the story and added comments and highlights about the changes we wanted to make. I came along behind and started making those changes. When Sherylyn finished the initial mark-up, she went back to the start and began editing the changes I had made.
When I finished my changes, I went back and started editing her changes.
We do this in a single document. It’s shared on OneDrive. We show all revisions and comments. We have Anne’s comments scattered throughout as well, so there are three different reviewers that we’re trying to keep track of.
At the end of all this, we send two copies back to Anne. The first copy shows the revisions and the comments (just in case she wants to see what we’ve done and where). The second is a clean copy, with all revisions accepted, and all comments deleted. We’ve never asked if she wants the first one, we just send them both.
Hassles with Word
Around this time in the novel writing process we stop saying nice things about Microsoft Office and how handy the cloud is and start swearing at Word. And we save every five minutes (which makes things much worse), and swear at Microsoft again.
I like Word. I prefer it to Scrivener and any other word processing software I know of. As a co-author, I also like OneDrive, and the ability for multiple people to work together on the same document.
Word is incredibly powerful. It has its problems, however.
It struggles with a full 120,000-word novel with mark-up. Especially when the revisions and comments add at least another 30,000 words. And when the mark-up is across three people.
Toward the end of the revisions, which is where we’re at now, the changes we make are small. A couple of minor mods on every second page, say. But they add up, and we might do fifty or more pages in a day. That’s each person doing that. If we lose our work we can’t get it back. So we back up frequently.
Every night. Once onto the hard drive, once onto a flash drive, and once a week onto OneDrive itself. Paranoid? Us? Very. We have learned the hard way.
Word’s little foibles
I don’t even want to talk about syncing. Suffice to say, OneDrive gets itself into a twist occasionally and mixes up which file is the latest.
It doesn’t like people touching the same part of the document. If Sherylyn adds some text, then I update it by deleting part of it, next time we open the document Sherylyn’s text is back in all its glory. Along with mine.
Or if one of us adds a comment, saying, “Maybe we could fix this by …” and the other agrees, makes the change and then deletes the comment, next time we open the document that comment is back.
We’re nearly done
We’re almost complete. We’re about to change Australian spelling to US spelling. That’s scary, but the last two times we didn’t do it, and the poor copy editor had a lot of words to fix.
Once we send the rewrites off (due early April) we’ll start again with a nice, clean copy, all revisions and comments accepted, for the next round.
Today we mailed off the manuscript for CONFLUENCE to our editor.
It’s finished, but it’s nowhere near finished either.
Our editor will come back with suggestions, we’ll make changes based on those suggestions. She’ll come back with more, and the whole process will go around and around until we’re all satisfied.
This is the first time our agent, Caitlin, is seeing the story this late. We normally send it to her first, and she gives us feedback before we send it to Anne. With both the previous books we’ve done big rewrites after Caitlin’s feedback.
As you can imagine, we’re nervous.
We told the story we wanted to tell. We’re happy with how it turned out.
Even so, we’re way too close to it at the moment to know if it’s any good. In an ideal writing world, we’d put it away for a couple of months now, and come back to it after the break, when we have some distance from it. Given we don’t have the luxury of that time, we’re very grateful for the editor and agent feedback.
That was the final book we were contracted to write. We don’t know what comes next. We don’t have a book we must write. That will depend on what Caitlin can sell, which in turn, depends a lot on how well the Linesman series is received.
We’ve almost finished the first major edit of ALLIANCE following initial editorial feedback. Our deadline is Friday, 14 August.
Based on the first book, we’ll have at least another round of edits after that, possibly more, but for the moment we’re almost done with this draft.
This is one time we back up the changes frequently. Sometimes two and three times a day if we’ve worked a lot on the draft, because we’re at that stage where we’ve done the major rewrite, and now our changes are little more than tweaks. Cleaning up the text, fixing typos. If we lose those tweaks we’d never be able to reproduce them, we’d just have to redo the work.
As the deadline approaches my housekeeping gets more and more … rushed is a polite word. So come 14 August, I’m going to clean house.