Friday, February 19, 2016

#11: It's Galley Day! Best Day Ever!

If you're like me, you probably had a fantasy like this one all your life. One day, your editor calls you up to say:

"Hey, we're sending your galleys to the Times today!" 

Or Vogue or Publisher's Weekly or wherever. Or maybe this one is closer to your dreams: You open your inbox to see an email from your favorite author. "Your pub sent me a copy of your galleys this weekend. You're a genius! Come out to the Hamptons. We'll do lunch!"

I think at least a small percentage of the whole reason I became an author in the first place was to be able to talk about 'my galleys.' However, nobody I worked with at either Simon & Schuster or MacMillan - editors, agents, publishers, publicists - called the early proof of a book a 'galley.'

I think that's an old-fashioned term that actually refers to an earlier stage: the manuscript is typeset, but still on regular paper, which is how the book will look during copyediting. In my experience, the 'galley' was always called an "A.R.C."- short for:

Advance Review Copy or Advance Reader Copy. 

The ARC's are usually distributed about 3-6 months before your book hits the shelves.

Depending on your publisher's lead time, when your ARC arrives, you'll probably still be copyediting. (If you haven't read it, check out Beware Your Copy Editor.) 

The ARC's can also be distributed in electronic form. Whatever the case, they go out to major literary publications like PW, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, etc., and other relevant pubs that do reviews.

Getting ARC's out early is a really important stage of promotion because ...

Any good reviews will be used for 'blurbs' on your book jacket.

Since all writers want lots of nice blurbs, this part of the process can really help the success of your book. 

A physical ARC looks a lot like a trade paperback.  

It will be identified as an ARC in some way. My first one said "Uncorrected Proof: Not For Sale" on the cover. The cover art will probably have already been designed, so that will be on the front as well. Though the back and spine may still need work.

On the back will be a synopsis, the price, ISBN, your bio, number of pages, publisher, and the upcoming release date, since that's important for reviewers to know. btw there weren't any author photos on my ARC's, but some publishers may include those too.

The ARC looks exactly like a finished book inside.

Except for the fact that the typos you and your copy editor are correcting may still be there. So the book's not quite a finished product.

Truly, getting your ARC's - or come on, let's do it, just because it sounds glamorous - getting your 'galleys' for the first time will be one of the most remarkable days of your entire career as a writer. Indie writers know just as well how wonderful it feels to hold an early proof of their self-published books in their hands. It's a real highlight.

Of course, my 'galley day' didn't exactly turn out as hoped ...

Go figure. Before I go on, I want to say that I adored my editor, my publisher, my agent, my publicist - well, frankly, I adored everybody involved in the process of publishing my first novel - so I don't want this to sound like sour grapes. Because even if the grapes were a teensy bit tangy at first, they've matured into a very fine, drinkable wine. :)

But I think everyone involved in publishing my first book will admit that it was dogged by more than its fair share of problems. To. Put. It. Mildly.
And 'galley day' was no different.

I was sitting at home, suffering through the second round of copy-editing (at big publishers, there are at least four rounds of revisions over the course of 12-18 months: two with your editor, then two with your copy editor), when a package from my publisher showed up at the door.

Having opened one copy-edited manuscript already, and having almost had a nervous breakdown as a result, this time I was a little leery emptying the big, padded envelope.

Imagine my delight when 5 copies of my galleys fell into my lap!

Zowie, that's a day you'll never forget! Actually seeing your words in a book? Well, sort of a book anyway. I wasn't expecting the ARC's - nobody warned me they were coming - but compared to many of the surprises I had during the process, this was a great one!

So there I was, sighing happily away, flipping through my ARC, feeling like such an 'author,' when I started noticing little typos in the text.

"Well, these are uncorrected proofs," I thought.

Says so right on the cover. Okay, no biggie. I keep flipping. "Hmmm ... I thought for sure I changed that ages ago ... and that ... and that ... and ... wait a second ..." Even for an uncorrected proof, there were a lot of changes that should've been made. Not just typos, but actual creative changes in the text. I quickly flipped to the back of the book.

It had the wrong ending!!

The ARC actually had the second last ending I'd worked on - not the final version - and a totally different resolution to the story. I emailed my editor right away. "Uh, I know these are uncorrected proofs ...

"But should they actually have the wrong ending?"

She wrote back just one word:

Somehow the wrong disk had been sent to the printer. It was an enormous, costly, time-consuming mistake. I'm not sure how many ARC's had been printed - but I wouldn't be surprised if there were dozens or more. The publisher really got behind the book.

And they all had to be recalled!

Not only that, new ones had to be printed and then mailed out asap. I can only imagine that harried journalists whose desks were already piled high with ARC's really enjoyed fishing out the old copy of my book, sending it back to the publisher, only to wait for the updated version to be printed and mailed back weeks later.

I assume the reprint cost me at least a few reviews since most big magazines work on long lead times and the delay could've meant I missed by window.

At any rate, what a huge, expensive mistake!

The way my agent and editor reacted, it was clearly the only time they'd even heard of such a thing. So I'm sure this sort of oversight is extremely rare. However, it did happen to me, so be prepared for anything! Most importantly ...

... you shouldn't rely on anybody else to make your book a success.

Not even publishers. I think there's a tendency for writers - being creative, sensitive, (occasionally) lazy people - to think that somebody else is going to look after things for you.

And if you get a book deal, nothing is going to go wrong, and that, yes, you'll soon be having lunch with your favorite author in the Hamptons. 

But YOU are the most important part of your book's success.

Accept the responsibility, be realistic - and work your buns off!

btw if you were turned off by my Valentine's Day blog hop last Sunday, I apologize. I'd had too much pink champagne. It's the first blog hop I've done, so don't lose respect for me. I mean, come on! Vampire LeStat as my favorite character? Or Quint from Jaws? Pretend I said Madame Bovary. Jane Eyre? Scout Finch? No, wait, I have it. My fave character of all time: Gatsby!

btw I've changed this series to Book Deal Boot Camp. 

It sounds catchier and takes up way fewer characters in a tweet than Book Deal Survival Guide. But also because of Private Benjamin. Did anyone see that funny 80s flick with Goldie Hawn? 

I think it's a good image to leave you with because - like Goldie, who thought she'd get stationed at some swanky tropical base when she joined the army - she had a huge wakeup call in boot camp. 

That's just what getting a book deal is like. Waaaaaay harder than you thought it was going to be!  

Thanks for reading! Subscribe to the blog to know what to expect!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Blog Hop!

The awesome Victoria Griffin from Victoria Griffin Fiction tagged Katherine Dell in a fun Valentine’s Day blog hop! And Katherine tagged me!
You don’t need to be tagged to participate! So if you are reading this – join in and have a whole lot of valentine fun!
  1. Favorite Love-Story book? I think the secret, unrequited love between Lucie Manette and Sydney Carton in Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities is the most heartbreaking love story of all time.
  2. Share your best Valentines day memory? Today! The hubs had a bottle of pink bubbly chilling in the fridge for me, a red ribbon and handmade Valentine wrapped around it! :)
  3. Favorite fictional hero/heroine? Always my characters! Otherwise, Oliver Twist? Chief Brody or Quint from Jaws? (Matt Hooper wasn't as cool in the book.) The Vampire LeStat? ;)  
  4. What story has the best most memorable romantic moment; kiss, proposal, etc.? I think one of the best kisses ever is from The Notebook starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. But I also loved that Dirty Dancing takeoff in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Emma Stone and - you guessed it! - Ryan Gosling. I'm starting to see a pattern here ... ;)
  5. What is your all time favorite Romantic movie? The Way We Were with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.
  6. You can go anywhere for a romantic getaway (fiction or non-fiction,) where do you go? The South of France.
  7. Who do you want to be your valentine? Mark, my husband!
  8. Chocolate or flowers? Chocolate!
  9. Novels: Romance or Adventure? I usually prefer a good suspense - so I'd fall on the adventure side of things.
  10. What fictional villain, do you secretly love? Dracula!
Let the Tagging begin!
I tag:
Kevin Ansbro

To participate: Copy and Paste the following in your blog to participate in this tag.
Cupid’s Book-Lover Tag
The Rules:
1. Tag the creator (AbbieLu @ Cafe Book Bean)
2. Have fun answering the questions.
3. Tag 5-10 people to join in the fun.
4. Thank & link those who tag you.
5. Don’t worry about the rules!

Monday, February 8, 2016

#10: Beware Your Copy Editor!

Demon, Devil, Hell, Inferno, Lucifer
Welcome to Hades. I'm your new copy editor.
I've been putting off writing this particular post because it was one of the most painful parts of getting published for me. If you're a writer and you feel all alone, clinically depressed, terrified, paranoid, and deeply regret ever wanting to do this in the first place ... you must be copy-editing. (Or copy editing or copyediting ... depending on which copy editor you get!)

Because copy-editing is hell on earth!

Before I go on, I want to pre-apologize to all the copy editors out there. I'm sure you're all nice folks who love your children and take care of your aging parents and do great charity work and plant gardens and walk your dog twice a day and are on the PTA and recycle your bottles and whatnot, but - man - can you make a writer's life miserable. (I'm pretty sure we make yours miserable too! So I apologize for that too!)

Here's how copy-editing works at traditional houses: 

You'll have spent several months going through two to three rounds of 'revisions' with your editor. Any 'mistakes' in your manuscript will not have been flagged because an editor is just interested in the creative evolution of the book. Characterization, plot development, themes, etc.

(That part is no picnic either, btw!) 

But when that's done, you have at least two more rounds of editing to go through with your copy editor. You probably won't ever meet or talk to this person. I didn't even trade a single email or phone call with either of mine. The only thing you'll ever see of them are pencil marks - all - over - your - manuscript.

Even if you're a literary genius without a single typo, there will still be oodles of doodles. Because it's also part of the copy editor's job to work with the production editor (who lays the manuscript out in book form) to prepare it for the final stage of printing. It's a huge, time-consuming job.

Every period is circled. Every italicized word is underlined. 

Em-dashes are marked differently than en-dashes. Bolded or capitalized words are flagged separately and every ellipsis is marked too. Don't even get me started on commas.

Publishing a clean book is a very difficult thing to do (as I'm learning in the indie world) and I'm sure over the years, publishers have learned that the best way to maintain standards is to make sure nothing gets missed before it goes to the printer. So the vast majority of the marks on your manuscript are intended for the production editor and the printer. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this when I received my first copy-edited manuscript.

In fact, I didn't even know this part of the process was next! 

Because there isn't a 'Welcome Author!" kit when you sign a book deal. And once you get started, everyone is too busy to walk you through the process or hold your hand. It's totally sink or swim. Heavy on the sinking. Because here's how copy-editing worked for me ...

I was at home on a cold winter evening, reading up on how to ease the pain of PTSD from editing - but happy to at least be through the process - when a package from my publisher showed up at my door. I tore open the envelope expecting a nice clean copy of my manuscript, maybe with a gold star on it or something. When I saw all the pencil marks, cross-outs, loop-the-loops and margin notes, I nearly passed out.

It looked as if there was more to change than keep the same!

It was my husband who saved the day (and what was left of my sanity) by going online to research copy-editing symbols. So I was at least partly relieved to learn that most of the markings were for the printer.

However, the copy editor is still going to flag all of your spelling or grammar mistakes and also suggest style improvements.

For instance, I was told I use too many ... what are they called again ...? Oh yeah, ellipses. In my first book, I was also told that I overused italics. Something I don't do as much anymore. At least not quite as much;) I also had a tendency to make up the odd word or two - and that doesn't go over well with copy editors at all.

They prefer you to stick to words that actually, y'know, exist. 

Copy editors are also incredibly detail oriented. You could go through a manuscript a thousand times and they'll still find things that seem embarrassingly obvious!

It can really make you feel like a lousy writer. 

Although grammar and spelling mistakes can't be ignored, when it comes to matters of style, the author's preference should prevail. So as you go through the notes, if you don't want to accept a suggestion regarding style, you simply write 'stet' in the margin - which means 'let it stand.'

For instance, one character might have an unusual pattern of speech that gets flagged. If you intended it, you simply write 'stet' beside the note. Or, if you're working on an e-copy, you would 'stet' electronically. I'm sure I drove my copy editors crazy with all the stetting I did. And, yes, stetting is a word.Though only copy editors would know it.

Copy editors also must have unusually large brains. 

They don't just know how to use an Oxford comma or catch a tense change. They can usually spot inconsistencies in everything from quantum physics to history to gardening.

On my second book, my copy editor called me on a particular type of flower I mentioned. "Hydrangeas don't grow that time of year" she wrote in the margin. (Btw as opposed to traditional editors who seem to practice speed-chicken-scratch, copy editors tend to have very neat handwriting, which makes them even more intimidating.) Rather than hydrangeas, she suggested I "use day lilies instead."

I grumbled a bit (it was at the end of the process and my ego was in shreds), but I decided to take her note. But after a little research, I was delighted to scrawl back: 'Thanks. FYI - daylilies is one word.'

Nothing like getting a chance to copy-edit a copy editor.  

But put it this way: if you think finding an agent or a publisher is a humbling experience ... try dealing with a copy editor. My advice to prepare writers for this grueling process is to buy THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE.

Not only will you feel incredibly cool lugging this tome up to the cash register in your local bookstore, it's the style guide most houses use for fiction, so it'll come in handy as you're writing too. (Non-fiction writers might do better with newspaper style guides.) One way or another, it's a good idea to brush up on copy editor's symbols, so you know what to heed and what to ignore.

And if you get a chance to catch a copy editor on something, enjoy it! Because it doesn't happen much! 

Next time ... GO WITH THE FLOW! Working with your production editor! I'm hell-bent on getting you through your first book deal unscathed, so subscribe to the blog to follow along!