Now we’re to the beginning of April. I received email from my project manager—the person responsible for the production of my book—in which was outlined these steps:
- A copyeditor will ensure for grammatical correctness, consistency, style, and mark for any changes in the manuscript.
- The copyedited manuscript will then be typeset and the page proofs will be sent for your review from 11th Apr.
- I request you to review the proofs, mark the corrections, answer any queries from the copyeditor/typesetter, and return the annotated proofs to me by 18th Apr.
- The proofs will also be sent to proofreader and to an indexer to compose the index.
- As we have tight production schedule for this title, we would provide only one round of proof for your review. I request you to send all intended corrections at this time as this will be your only opportunity to check the proofs. I will ensure all the changes are incorporated to the final proofs.
- The final files will be generated and sent to the printer by 20th May.
- The manufacturing process requires 8 weeks and the books will be published on 15th Jul.
As promised, I received the PDF proofs on the 11th. My assumption was that the copyediting process would be a fairly simple thing. I write reasonably well, and I’m a capable proofreader, so my writing has very few errors in it. To my horror, I found that more errors had been introduced in my writing than had been corrected.
I was unimpressed with the typesetting. The entire book was justified, which resulted in really bad word spacing. Screenshots had been poorly cropped. Strange decisions were made, such as putting a period at the end of every figure caption, even if it was just a title, such as “Years of experience.” The introductory paragraph to Part 1 was completely left out.
The introductory paragraph to Part II was there, but it ended in a widow. The final sentence was, “Buckle your seatbelt; we’re going for a drive.” The word “drive” wrapped to the next line. So, I highlighted the word and entered the comment, “widow”. I assumed I was dealing with professionals. I must have been wrong, because when I received the corrected proofs, the sentence read, “Buckle your seatbelt; we’re going for a widow.” They had marked it with a question, “Should this be ‘window’?” As if that makes more sense.
Those problems were annoying, but they were easily noticed and corrected. What really ate up my time was having to proofread my writing all over again. So many changes had been made. There were stylistic changes that had been applied inconsistently, as if different editors were taking on different parts of the book. I asked that these be backed out completely. They had no business changing my voice, especially if they weren’t going to be thorough about it. And whoever it was, they weren’t up on pop culture. I wrote a sentence in Gollum-speak: “Nasty embedded CSS. We hates it, yes we do, my precious.” My editor tried to correct it: “Nasty embedded CSS—we hate it, yes we do.”
Then there were changes to technical terms that they obviously didn’t understand. For example, anyone who works with code knows what a “diff” is. If you are going to compare two files to find differences, you would say that you are going to do a diff. You would never say that you are going to do a differential.
It was aggravating. I had to spend many hours marking up the PDFs and entering comments. But, these changes didn’t hold a candle to the mess that was made of my code.
To be continued…