the state of things

 

Proof

by Douglas Lindsay - 09:31 on 24 October 2008
Finished, at last, with the text for the reprint of The Long Midnight of Barney Thomson, and now the file has been sent off to the printers. In my last read-through I found a gap of one letter width where it shouldn’t have been, and a full-stop after a question mark.

It was time to let go.

As with all projects, it’s good to get your own part of it out of the way, but then you have the frustration of losing control and becoming dependent on others. The printing part, usually, is very quick and smooth, taking only a few weeks between delivery of cover and text, and receipt of the books. As the previous edition of The Long Midnight is down to the last of its print run, I have to hope that the printing process is just as smooth this time as it usually is.

You have to wonder about mainstream publishers and their deadlines, especially since they can get biographies of newly dead celebrities out within weeks. For the third Barney Thomson book with Piatkus I can remember proof reading the final draft some time in October 2000, and being hurried by them to get on with it, for a book that was due to come out the following May.

The previous two books in the series had been preceded by proof copies of the finished book, to be sent to the press, book buyers etc. For the third book there was no proof copy. They said it was because there wasn’t time. I realise now, as I suspected then, that this was a big fat fib.

Both the second and third Barney Thomson Piatkus novels are riddled with mistakes. As well we being proof read by the author - who obviously didn’t make a very good job of it, hence the fact that I now desperately proof read books a hundred times - they obviously saved some money by employing some sort of non-English speaking invertebrate life form, a slug or an amoeba, to be the actual proof reader. Or maybe there was no actual proof reader, and they just left it all to me, and I, assuming that someone else competent was doing it, just zipped through the task in a few hours and sent it off back to them with the odd squiggle attached.

When it came to reprint the books, it was a lot easier for me at the time to go to the same printer Piatkus had used, use the same text as they had done, and stick a new cover on it. So the mistakes came along too. I think at the time I thought it would be cheaper to do it that way, but in retrospect, it needn’t have been.

Current Long Midnight Publishing Plan A involves reprinting the second and third books over the next year, to follow on from The Long Midnight, re-written and proof read to the nth degree. (Although Plan A hasn’t been ratified by the full Executive Committee of the Board.) My new logo of Death will come along for the reprints. I think Iza, who drew Death, was thinking that I’d use the same figure on each cover. I reckon Death should be doing something different each time. Dressed as a monk, eating a sandwich, playing golf...

And I need to come up with a name for him other than Death. Death seems so mundane. And tragic. He needs a new name. Herman maybe. Maurice. Malcolm. Lucky...

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