Novellablog, BEA Edition: My Beautiful Advance Copies and the Grammatical Error on Page One

First of all, LOOK AT THE PRETTY!!

Beth at McNally Jackson took my PDFs of The Kairos Mechanism‘s book text and front matter and laid them out all sorts of pretty. Then, since I won’t have Andrea Offermann’s cover illustration until about mid-July, Erin at McNally made a basic cover from my title page (the back cover has the disclaimer on it about this being an advance copy and to check all quotes against the final text). Then, ten minutes later, there it was. The books come out warm, like cookies out of an oven or something. It is honestly and truly a really beautiful little book. I am going to be so proud to show it off.

Now. For the second half of the title.

You heard me. I literally have a grammatical error on the first page. Plus I also somehow deleted two lines of text from the last page that make the first line of one paragraph seem a bit like a momentary non-sequitur. Neither are things that will spoil the read, if I stifle my emotional reactions and look at them academically. Still. Perfect brackets, on the first page and the last. Plus, reading it through last night, I decided that Christine Johnson, the final editor to comment on this before my last round of revisions, was right about my needing to spend more time explaining how the mechanism of the title works.

Having read my previous posts about the editorial panic attacks I’ve been having, you might be thinking that I’m having a bit of a nutty here at Milford Command Central. The truth is, I’m not. On the one hand, the grammatical error on page one (although it’s such a common error that most readers are likely not even going to catch it) is exactly the kind of thing I don’t want happening even once in the book, and I certainly can’t have issues of the “this needs more explanation” variety in the final copy.

On the other hand, this will be the third time I’ve experienced the exasperation that is the Advance Review Copy.

The first time I saw the ARCs of The Boneshaker, I was ecstatic. I was over the moon. My book, in actual-book form for the first time, with its beautiful shiny red cover and everything. I was too starry-eyed about that to freak out about the typos inside that were still being ironed out behind the scenes. With The Broken Lands, it was a bit different. I got the ARCs a week after I’d mailed the first mechanical pass back to Clarion, and the number of corrections I made on that mechanical pass made me look sideways at the ARCs because I knew none of those changes had gone into them, and because they were being mailed out to reviewers all over the place. The changes were mostly cosmetic matters of verbiage and poetry and that sort of thing, but there were a LOT of them, and I knew the ARC had been printed from a draft something like three iterations before the one I’d just edited. You can’t freak out about that. You just have to make sure everything’s caught before the final manuscript goes to the printers.

So, although it goes against every instinct I have, I am not going to freak out now, either. Well, not much, I’m not. I’m going to fix what needs fixing, and pass the ms on to the copyeditor. (This is not her fault, by the way; she only just received the manuscript last week. I’m the smartypants who up and decided last week that she wanted some ARCs for BEA. It’s also not the fault of any of the readers who edited the manuscript up until this moment; I’m the genius who somehow deleted the sentences at the end while formatting the manuscript to the specs required by the Espresso Book Machine.)

And ultimately, the professionals of the book world understand what an advance copy is: it’s a snapshot of the book at a stage when it is (to the best of everyone’s ability), fully presentable while still being decidedly still in-process.

Plus, they’re just too pretty and–well, too real not to be overjoyed about. I love them, and with the help of some wonderful, brilliant, dedicated friends and a hundred or so Kickstarter angels*, I made them myself.

So, in the immortal words of Vampire Weekend, who gives a f*ck about the Oxford comma?

*There is still time for you to become one of those angels, you know. The campaign ends June 9. No big deal. I’m just sayin’.

 

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