Barbara and I have just finished the first round of fine-grained proofing on the type-set version of our new “Detox your writing” book.
Because we’ve done this proofing lark three times before, we now have a set routine. We first work on hard copy that we’ve printed from the PDF we’ve been sent. We each read the text right through, marking the errors and issues that we see – errors in pen and issues with post-its. We then talk through our separate readings. We have to do this talking by Skype of course because we are on opposite sides of the world. So each UK morning and Australian evening we talk for an hour or so, on a connection that varies wildly in quality. We always try to use video if we can, as it is more like our actual face to face, side by side writing. We can get through two chapters in each morning/evening session. We then have a final wrap-up conversation where we deal with any unresolved issues.
During these five days Barbara want back and forward to her holiday house outside of Melbourne. It is very hot in Australia right now and the beginning of our Skypes were a brief update on the temperature. England on the other hand is dark, but not cold. During our conversations, my office became progressively lighter and this usually generated some minor moaning from me.
We have both been a bit shocked about what had managed to slip through the iterative revisions and editing that we’d already done. We should have known that there would be more errors of course. But coming to terms with the sheer volume of things that needed fixing does seem to be something we have to learn every time. The quantum of additional things we didn’t see really confirms that taking time away from the text is a Good Thing. We – and you – need to have a rest from our writing and come back to it anew in order to see the mistakes, to finesse the text properly.
The other thing that is abundantly clear from our shared proofreading is that we often see different things. I am very attuned to repetition – not only where we use the same word too often and/or too close together but also when we make the same point too many times, the same point too many times. 🙄 I also seem to see where we need to reshuffle sentences in a paragraph to make it stronger and where our use of tense and pronouns need attention. Barbara is incredibly good at seeing where punctuation is awry, and when the focus of a sentence needs sharpening. She also tracks the continuity and wording of headings, subheadings, and titles of figures and diagrams. She tends to see different problems than I do 😛. (And because we each see different things in our text it really makes me worry about anything I might do that is single authored!)
I keep the “master copy”of the manuscript. I am now transferring all of our corrections to the PDF to send this off to the publisher. I’m hoping to get this done in the next day or so. Then I can then relax.
Well, I can relax until it comes back just one more time for final, final proofing and indexing.