The sign goes up on the whiteboard outside my office at least once or twice a year:
“EDITING BOOK PROOFS: KNOCK AND ENTER.”
For those of you who don’t know, the book-writing process takes on about a dozen phases, each more precise than the the last. Once the book is almost done, the folks at the publishing house lay the whole book out and send you a set of pages to examine for errors. This includes design issues, image quality and typographic mistakes.
In more than a few cases, I’ll catch typos or weird sentences where I must have accepted one change and rejected another from the copy editor in the previous editing phase. This leads to a sentence that sounds like I’m stammering through congressional testimony asking me how many mullets I grew in high school.
This week, I got the first set of proofs for the upcoming book, Dynamics of Media Editing, which should be out in January or February. If nothing else, the cover is really snazzy:
To really focus on the proofs, I have to close my door, put on a red football jersey (I don’t know why), put on a set of giant headphones to lock out the noise and sit about three inches from my monitor, picking at each sentence. Thus, I kind of get locked in and it requires someone coming into my office and nudging me with a stick to get me out of the zone.
No matter how hard I try, there’s always something that slips by. My great fear is that I’ll miss something really stupid like this:
In case you missed it, the supergroup of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did not include this guy:
It was actually this guy:
As a journalist, I’m also constantly checking anything having to do with math, given the stereotype that numerical stuff to reporters is like Kryptonite to Superman. I also worry about graphics, in that they are often created based on some of my crude sketches. If you want to know how bad that can be, realize that I once drew a six-legged dog on the board when trying to explain something in a class. Thus, fearing something like this happening isn’t really something too far outside the realm of possibility:
(Somewhere, a kid is confused by numbers and bananas. Or maybe it’s a Cardassian torture method…)
With that in mind, I’m going to sit today out and focus on the proofs. Once this is done, I’ll be back at the blog. Please bear with me and check back daily.