Phil: While the Nolan has been packing her life into boxes and moving into the 70s splendour of the new house, I’ve been slaving away doing a bit of publishing work which has taken me away from the job of submitting The Book to agents.
Editing a bookazine (it’s about trains so we will say no more about it here) has been an interesting and eye-opening experience. Compared to the one I wrote last year, I’ve had an awful lot more input on the project. Basically, it’s me, a designer, a proof-reader and the publisher.
All this has meant I’ve been brought face-to-face with the process taking words to a design that can be checked at the printers.
The main lesson learned is that everything takes a lot longer than I think it will. To be honest, I’ve always been hopelessly over-optimistic when working out how long it takes to do anything but this has hugely exceeded my plans.
The second is that you have to keep checking everything. I’ve examined every single page at least 3 times in addition to the initial writing and subsequent proof-reading. For 170 pages, that’s a lot of work. As an example, each of the 200+ photo captions seems to change at will. Not all of them at the same time but the odd one or two so you can’t relax.
Even on the final check, I came away with a list of 10 changes required.
Some of this is human error, ably assisted by the technology. Text previously fixed has reverted to faulty. Even the cover has been a problem, the first advertising poster design used an old version.
All has (crosses fingers) been fixed and the result looks fabulous. I’m certain that every other similar publication goes through the same pain too. I look at the magazine rack in WH Smith with a far better appreciation of the efforts behind each and every publication. OK, I’m not editing Vogue (yet) so no-one is going to make a film like The September Issue about me, but even on a small scale, the mechanics are pretty involved.
Which brings me back to The Book.
One option we are very seriously looking at is self-publishing. That’s going to see us taking control of the process of turning text on a screen into physical and electronic books. Having already dabbled in this and with the experience I now have, this is a much bigger hill to climb than it appears at first.
Newbies think, “You just press a button in Word and the book appears doesn’t it?”
No chance. Even from a little research I know that there are a bundle of e-book formats to content with. Physical books need the text flow checking to avoid pages with a couple of words on them at the end of a chapter. We are going to be very sick of reading our own story by the end of this.
Suddenly, the traditional route looks very appealing.