For the last two days I have been absorbed in reading the galleys (aka author alterations) for TWICE DEAD, my February release. This is the very last time I will read over these words and be able to make changes before the book goes to print. The changes I can make at this stage are small, mostly just errors in spelling and punctuation, and this is the point in the publishing game where it always seems to finally sink in that my words are going to be in print. Mostly this realization strikes because at this point, the words are starting to look like a book.
Two nights ago my publisher sent me a PDF file to proof. The title page, dedication, and all extra materials are in the file at this point, and the text is formatted like a book. The only thing that can make it more real will be holding a bound copy with my name on the cover in my hands (which will happen in a little over a month!)
I decided to print a hard copy of the galley. In my experience it is easier to read over mistakes on the computer screen, especially since I have been staring at these word intermittently for nearly a year, and I want to eliminate as many mistakes in the manuscript as my sore eyes can catch. As I was scrounging around my office for enough paper to print the manuscript, I realized that this would be the very first time I saw these words on paper. When I was younger (particularly when I was in school) I used to write everything long hand before entering it in the computer. Then I always printed my drafts to edit long hand, entering my changes in the file after the fact.
The reason for all this printing was that I hated (who am I kidding, I still hate) to read off my computer screen. But as I grew older, and as I started actually finishing novels, printing out 100k words of text became quite an ordeal. Printing was not only costly, but I started feeling rather guilty about all the trees I was killing so I could scribble changes on paper that I had to then put in the computer anyway. So I forced myself to start editing on the screen.
The end result of this effort is that I am now holding in my hands the only printed copy of my story that I’ll see before it is an actual book. Wow. That’s kind of . . . cool. And woot for saving trees!
(Post title is a quote from THE LORAX by Dr. Suess. Am I the only one who tears up when the Lorax is finally forced to leave?)