Friday, December 26, 2008

Check the Facts, Ma'am

I hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a good one yesterday, and everyone who doesn't enjoyed some time off anyway.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that, in addition to reviews by Editor Charlie and a copy editor, Abrams had sent a draft of WHTTWOT to a professional fact checker. Thank goodness. I got the fact checker's notes a few days ago, and his or her fresh set of eyes caught mistakes everyone else had missed, including a couple of blunders that would've been very embarrassing if they'd made it to print. Nothing major, but the sort of typos and brain farts that might make a knowledgable reader think, "Hmph! If he couldn't even get that right, why should I believe the rest of it?"

My reaction to the notes passed through three discrete stages: 1. Embarrassment that I made the mistakes. 2. Relief that they were caught before it was too late. 3. Anxiety about all the embarrassing mistakes I may have made that haven't yet been caught. I expect to live in that state of anxious dread for the next half year or so. Anyway, thanks for saving my bacon, anonymous fact checker. I salute you.

A Long Way from Gutenberg
Editor Charlie told me about the video below, which shows how the next volume in my friend Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was printed. I don't expect everyone to find it interesting, but I love this "process" stuff. The one piece of Mom's Cancer art I have on my wall is a poster-sized sheet of 16 pages of the book (with another 16 pages printed on the back) as it came off the press and before it was cut into pages. Modern printing technology is so precise and specialized, and the way these machines work and move fascinates me.

The third Wimpy Kid book drops on January 13. I understand there'll be embargos, security, and midnight releases the likes of which haven't been seen since the last Harry Potter book. When Editor Charlie and I talked just before Christmas, he bragged that he had the only available copy sitting on his desk. Honestly, I didn't really care, but I pretended I was envious just to make him feel better.

Anyway, if you're anything like me--who when I was a newspaper reporter a long time ago used to sneak away from my desk in the newsroom just to watch the presses roll--then you might enjoy the video. Ten minutes.

6 comments:

Sherwood Harrington said...

Uh-oh. Am I in trouble now?

Editor Charlie said...

You didn't care?
Just wait until I talk to Jeff about your book.

Brian Fies said...

Sherwood: Not at all. Your advice was flawless. I made all-new mistakes entirely on my own.

Charlie: Uh oh, you actually read this thing? Crap. I'll never write in this town again.

Rachel Clark said...

Sadly, the link for the video is showing up as an empty, white square. Has it been removed at the source?

Brian Fies said...

Rachel, I just tried it and it worked for me. I don't know what to tell you. I know some videos have restrictions so that they don't work outside the United States and such, but doubt that's the case here.

Here's the direct link to the video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQCDmjjN1Xg

Brian Fies said...

Rachel, are the Rachel Clark who is Arnold Wagner's daughter? If so, I still think about your dad a lot, and wish he were around to share his wisdom. He was great.

If you're not that Rachel Clark, my comments still apply to Arnold.