Friday, February 27, 2009

The Book Production That Will Not End!

I was starting to think What You Need to Know to Be a Pro would never be finished. It seemed like every time we thought we were done, we'd find more that needed to be done. First I thought I hadn't prepared the document for In Design correctly because the program wasn't behaving correctly. But then we discovered that the Find/Change feature in my Word program wasn't working the way it should, so I spent too much time marking by hand where paragraph breaks should be. After that it was weeks of "floating the text," making the needed adjustments to the layout, then "floating the text," again, over and over, weeding out irregular page breaks, orphans and widows, and changing quotation marks. Rick had to decide where to insert the images and how to format the advice from other experts. We'd think he had it finished, then Jane would send back more notes, pointing out that the first word of each paragraph didn't appear to be lined up right. There would be more tweaking and cursing, followed by long hours of work, late nights of hunting for hyphens, examining the pages line by line (thanks goodness it's only 136 pages long!), until FINALLY we were done!

And THEN we ran into trouble preparing the document to upload to Lightning Source. For some reason, the conversion how-to is hidden at the bottom of the "File Creation" tab, so it took me a good night of hunting to find the info we needed. It had been over a year since we uploaded a book and since then the website had changed. I still had the info from a year ago but we both wanted to make sure we were following the most current instructions. (For the record, you need to scroll over the "File Creation" tab, then scroll down to "Digital Bookblock Creation. Click on that and you'll find all the various links you need to convert a file from In Design to the correct type of PDF they want).

At last the document was converted into the right PDF and uploaded to Lightning Source. I paid the money for a proof copy ($30.00) and eagerly waited for my book. In only five days, the proof arrived via UPS.

When I opened the package I stared at the 6 x 9 paperback, surprised to feel how light it was. I spent a year on this? It's so tiny. I turned it over in my hand, feeling mixed sensations of excitement and fatigue. Yay, the book is here. Whatever... can I just sell the dang thing now? I am honestly so sick of this book if I didn't have to look at it again I'd be thrilled.

With trepidation, I flipped through the pages, examining them for smudges, mistakes, blurred images or clipped words. All looked good. The layout looked clean, the print easy to read, the images crisp and the paper smooth. The cover was even and bright and they'd even managed to print the title on the spine without the words looking too smashed. My nerves calmed and I felt more excited about my little handbook. Here it was, fresh from the printer and ready to share with others.

Then my Muse said, "Did you put the page numbers in the table of contents?"

I sighed. Of course not. I turned to the table of contents, dreading what I would find, and sure enough, there were no page numbers. In fact, there were even a few periods missing.

"Shit," I said. This book just won't end. How the hell did THREE people miss that?

I told Rick and he said, "I have plenty of books with no page numbers in the table of contents. Do we need them?"

As much as I wanted to say "You're right. We don't need no stinking page numbers," I sat down and made Rick a list of each chapter's beginning page number. I also marked where the missing periods should be. He shrugged and said, "Okay," then promised to have it done this weekend.

This is the book that will not end. Every time I think we're finished, something else pops up. Pretty much everything that could go wrong with a book project has gone wrong with THIS book project. I'm so over it I don't care if it ever gets published.

I'm too stubborn to quit, though. Seeing as I've just spent over a year working on this thing, I'll be damned if I'll give up now. I will see this book to it's end, and then I will celebrate the launch, knowing I don't have to work on it any more.

At least until I update the information in a couple of years.

1 comment:

Kirsten Imani Kasai said...

Keep going! All those tiny corrections will be worth it in the end! Congratulations!!