This morning I put on my T-shirt inside out and backwards. Then it took me an hour-and-a-half to notice. Since I’m pretty sure I’m only going to get worse, I need to go on record right now with a disclaimer that should hold up in any court:
From now until the release of The Space Between on September 12th, I cannot be held accountable for my actions, due to diminished capacity.
That sounds legal-ish, doesn’t it?
“I’m sorry, your Honor. Exhilaration made me do it.”
“Understandable, Ms. Rooke. Promise me you’ll stay away from Krispy Kreme in the future and I’ll consider your case dismissed.”
Even in my excitement I’d been managing to keep a lid on myself, but then this came in the mail on Monday:
It’s the proof copy. The one I examine to be certain it’s printed exactly to the specifications. Holding it in my hands (FYI, I don’t have man-hands. Those are Glen’s) just about made me swoon. It took twelve years to bring this baby into the world, and there were many, many days I thought it would never happen.
Needless to say, I’m giddy with delight. Even though I already knew when Glen opened the package that the proof copy was wrong. And it’s all The Daughter’s fault.
A few days before the printed proof copy was shipped, the e-book proof copy was ready. Like the print copy, it also had to be carefully screened for errors. We were pretty confident that typos had been eliminated by that point, but there were persnickety things to screen for, like:
• Text cut off the page or disappearing into the crease
• Images out of place
• Fonts or characters not displaying properly
In other words, every page of the e-book had to be scrutinized to be sure it looked the way it was supposed to.
I had a lot of other things on my plate, so I hired Katie to do the job.
This was the first time she’d read The Space Between since [what I foolishly believed was] its final revision. She loved it. All except for one problem that she couldn’t get past. She believed I had treated cavalierly a character I’d killed off near the end of the book. It distressed her that this character was never mentioned again after I’d snuffed him/her. She wanted me to fix that, believing that the character deserved better, and that it made me look careless and forgetful as the author.
I argued my point with her. I hadn’t forgotten, but the character was so insignificant that I had seen nothing wrong in complete erasure. Besides, I said, it was probably much too late to do anything about it now.
She disagreed with everything I said. The worst part was, I had disappointed her.
I thought it over for all of five seconds before realizing she was right. But what could I do? Quickly I read over the trouble spot, and saw an easy repair. All it would take was the addition of two short lines of dialogue. A total of nine words. The manuscript’s formatting was complete, though. Even adding two lines could make an annoying, troublesome difference, meaning those last ten pages would have to be reformatted.
I’ve told you about Danielle Hartman Acee before. She and Mindy Reed own The Authors' Assistant. She’s my final copyeditor, as well as my publicist. She’s also responsible for formatting both the e-book and print volume. Here she is:
I fired off a panicky email to Danielle describing the problem and my proposed solution. She responded at once with capable calm. Then, after fiddling with the e-copy for the rest of the afternoon, she fixed it. The two new lines inserted, the reformatting accomplished.
Thank you, Danielle! Katie was hugely relieved and so was I.
Some characters exist only to be killed off: shock value, their sole purpose in a story. This character was so very minor that I had seen nothing wrong in discarding him/her like gnawed chicken bones. Not all characters are created equal. Yes, they can certainly surprise you. Main characters can assume less importance and be sidelined. Minor characters can become the point upon which the story’s climax hinges. But a few characters are there just to up the body count. Even so, they should be treated with respect. I can’t just pretend they never lived at all.
When the kerfuffle broke out, the printed proof copy pictured above was already rolling its way to me. Of course. Therefore, there will be a printed proof copy #2. The final, final revision. In a few days I’ll be opening a new package. The right one.
Thank you, Katie.