Wednesday, January 28, 2009

FINAL Final Edits

Continuing my mission of documenting the process of getting a book published, I'm happy to say that yesterday I turned in my final files--for real.

I know, I've said that before. I turned in "final" files back in August, and wrote about it again in December. The pages I submitted in August were subject to review and comments by Editor Charlie, Editor Andrea, and an independent fact-checker. That took a couple of months. Turned out they found a lot to comment on.

I worked with Charlie to address those notes--most of which made the book better and, in a couple of cases, saved me from real embarrassment--and submitted a whole new batch of files a few weeks ago. Charlie and Andrea went through them again, and Charlie also ran them by another editor at Abrams who's a real stickler. That round turned up about 40 all-new corrections.

You know what I hate? When you're fixing one mistake and, in the process, you make another one. Those are hard to catch. I hate that.

Just a note here about how publishing a graphic novel differs from publishing a non-graphic novel. If I'd written a regular book comprising nothing but text, the editors could've quickly and easily solved the vast majority of problems themselves. A comma here, a hyphen there. But in a graphic novel, the words are part of the pictures. They can't fix them. If a word balloon requires a dash instead of an ellipsis, they have to tell me where it is and I have to change it myself, then send the whole page back to them. I just realized while typing that now what a pain in the neck it is for everyone.

So I finished those final corrections last weekend. Then, I went through the entire book myself very carefully one more time. I did that Monday and Tuesday, and, astonishingly, still found things to fix, including a typo no one had caught through any of the previous reviews. I revised six or seven pages and uploaded them yesterday afternoon.

And . . . I'm done.

What happens now is that Designer Neil lays out the pages for press. His contribution to the ultimate look and feel of the book is substantial: page design, fonts, graphics, spot art, the front and back covers. WHTTWOT will have a couple of "special effects" that Neil needs to make work. He and I have talked several times over the past months (all by e-mail or phone--I've never met him but am looking forward to it someday) and are working quite closely now. I think I'm lucky, in that Neil seems very solicitous of my input. I gather some designers get pretty prickly when anyone interferes with their vision for a book, even the author. I'm happy that's not been my experience.

I've been a writer for various media for a long time, and can say without a doubt that nothing I've ever produced has been as closely scrutinized by so many editors as WHTTWOT. Mom's Cancer got a pretty good going-over, but wasn't even close. As I joked last time I wrote about the editing process, I'm also certain that the very first thing I lay eyes on when I crack open my new book fresh from the printer will be an obvious gaffe. Because that's how I roll.

What 200 pages of graphic novel
look like. Please don't reveal spoilers!


Comic Nurse said...

I can't wait!!

ronnie said...

Me, neither.

I've never had quite the comparable experience, but I have just finished writing a manual for my workplace which will be made available to the public... before being laid out properly, it's about 130 8.5x11 pages of 12 pt type long. Three people besides myself have been involved in the proofing and fact-checking, and I am still astonished by the new typos I find every time I make corrections to the book.

I swear they're sneaking in there at night after we go home.

Good luck! I can't hardly wait to have the real thing in my hands!

Mike Lynch said...

What a process! I hadn't even thought how it all worked until you put all out there in this blog entry. There may be easier ways to make a living, but none so satisfying.

Looking forward to the book!

Unknown said...

I have no idea about the process - but Amazon is giving a release date of April 1st, that just seems to be cutting it a little close.
Is two months a usual window from turning in the final pages to release date?

Brian Fies said...

Thanks, MK!

Ronnie, I know what you mean. I consider myself a decent, careful writer, and can't believe some of the mistakes we found. Somebody else must've surely put them there, because I know better . . .

Mike: wait, you're saying someone actually makes a living at this?! I'm doing it all wrong!

DD, I don't know my book's release date--I don't think it really has one--but agree that April 1 seems optimistic. I don't know where Amazon got its information. Still, once the files go to the printer, things can happen fast. I'll be sure to alert the media (well, write a blog post) when I learn more.

Sherwood Harrington said...

I... I'm sorry... I know I should have posted a comment sooner, something like "Congratulations, Brian, this is a really exciting milestone in the genesis of a major work," but... but...

I'm sorry. I was dazzled and rendered mute by a flash of brilliance in your fifth paragraph in this post:

YOU USED THE WORD "COMPRISING" CORRECTLY. Do you have any idea how rare this is these days?

Blown away, I am.

Mike said...

You could make up a blog entirely comprised of entries misusing that word ...

... but I wouldn't read it because I'd be down at my local Amazon waiting for Brian's book to be released ...

Brian Fies said...

Oh, I've got composed/comprised licked! You ought to see me wail on insure/ensure/assure. Sometimes my keyboard actually melts.

"I'd be down at my local Amazon waiting for Brian's book to be released . . ." I appreciate the sentiment, but how does that work, exactly?