I am currently reading through the proof of Dandelions and Bad Hair Days, getting it ready for publication on 10th October, World Mental Health Day. Even though it is a book I am absolutely committed to and believe to be packed with great writing from courageous people it is, frankly, a very difficult task.
Do all writers feel this way? I think it is the sense of responsibility – to the people who have put their writing ‘out there’ for publication and to the book itself. It has a life of its own now – it has a personality, an identity and its own dreams. What I do at this stage can affect its future, for better or for worse.
I have read the prose pieces and poems in the book so often now that it is all too easy to be blind to the occasional typo or grammatical error. My editor in chief, Rin Simpson, did a wonderful job on the original manuscript and I sort of assumed, in my naive way, that it wouldn’t need much doing to it this time around. But of course formatting it for paperback has changed things. Poems are not arranged on the page in the way the writers have requested, and the font used gives it a whole new look. Nettie Edward’s wonderful photographs now illustrate many of the pieces and my acknowledgement section at the end is looking a little thin. There are so many people to thank.
The proof was sent to me electronically and I find it so hard to read ‘on screen’ that I have had to print it off. Rather than use up bucket-loads of ink I did it on ‘fast’ and to be honest it looks as if the words have been whispered on to the page, they are so faint. I have to admit I have given it my husband to take a look through – he comes to it with more or less fresh, and less short-sighted eyes – and he sat in bed last night, propped up against the pillows next to me, highlighting things he thought looked ‘wrong’. Not too many I hope.
So how do you approach proof reading? I have also sent it back to Rin for another look, although I know her to be horribly busy. I don’t think I am being lazy (although it is a hard task to face on a sunny morning) but perhaps it is an avoidance technique. There is nothing worse than reading a book that has not been properly proof-read – it is one of the complaints made against so many books downloaded on to eReaders – and it can affect not only reviews but sales too. As this book gives ALL the profits to charity, any mistake I make might directly affect the amount of money raised.
So any hints and tips gratefully received!