Sunday, March 31, 2013

One In, One Out

The Crown Tower on the left on it's way back to the publisher as The Rose and Thorn, on the right, arrives.

In March I received the final layout proofs for The Crown Tower. It arrived from Orbit in a soft manila colored envelope. I spent the last two weeks reading through it and making last minute corrections—in pencil. Not sure why, but Orbit insists I use pencil.

I’m not even certain why I’m sent a hard copy of the manuscript. I remember when I first started with Orbit I was asked if it was okay to do digital editing. I wasn’t certain what that meant. Digital editing? Was this some sort of high tech gadgetry that only huge publishers could afford? I imagined that a computer would digitally scan each page and automatically fix all the typos and grammar errors that a simple word processor couldn’t handle.

Not at all certain what they were speaking about, I asked. Digital editing was done via the Internet using Word and such advanced techniques as track changes and comments. This baffled me because I assumed that was the only way anyone would edit a manuscript. So I had to ask, what was my alternative?

A stack of printed pages mailed to me, and a pen.

I almost laughed. Seriously? Why would you even ask? Does anyone edit that way? Orbit’s response was—yes. Apparently a great many insist on it.

I still find this odd, but okay.

So last week I curled up on my bed with my stack of papers, my pencil and pencil sharpener, and thumb-licked my way through the first novel. Not a bad read, I thought. Just as I was packaging that up to send out, The Rose and The Thorn, arrived, which is good because I needed something new to read and really wanted to find out what happened to poor Royce and Hadrian.


  1. Well I wish they'd hurry it up so we could all find out too.

  2. Pencil shavings in bed don't sound like fun at all

  3. You can always count on Royce and Hadrian's exploits when you are in need of something good to read!

    You have no idea how excited I am for these two books to be released!

  4. Well Sir, somehow or other they got confused and sent you one as a hard copy, and you played along and revised the hard copy and sent it back, and now they're assuming that you're one of those "many" who demands the hard copy so now it won't stop until you call them up and demand the new fangled digital editing you wanted in the first place. Make sense? :D

  5. It's amazing where the world has gone. Seeing that stack of paper almost seems obscene to me now, and editing with a writing utensil feels daunting.

  6. I absolutely love editing on paper. Part of it is pragmatic: I spend a good 10-12 hours a day staring at computer screens and any time I can get away from them, the better. Part of it is irrational, in that it feels more organic and sensory-driven than editing on the computer.

    Also, there are few things more satisfying than seeing a manuscript page filled with red marks.

  7. At least this way you have a hard copy to point to. I would be worried with digital editing myself. One click and you've hit something like accept changes or erase or any other number of doomsday computer errors that could befall your manuscript. Better to be old school with this one.

  8. Personally I prefer editing on paper, as there are some errors that I simply don't notice until I see the words printed out. I also find that my eyes can't take as much staring at a screen as looking at paper. I think that it would also be easier to see each change that had been made when it's all laid out and marked with pen/pencil.

    Although, having said all that, digital editing does have definite advantages, too. (Such as saving one poor person the tedious task of copying all the changes onto the digital version! :P)
    I think that (once I actually get to the stage of trying to publish my writing) I would find digital better for short(ish) stories and a paper copy better for longer works of 250 pages plus. I'd have done all the big changes that needed to be made while I was writing it, but since I write on my laptop I think I'd be likely to miss the exact same mistakes that I'd missed during the writing and re-reading stage. With a paper copy I'd get a different view of my writing and be able to pick out the mistakes I'd missed.

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