Any of you who have written something that’s gone through multiple rounds of revisions will be familiar with the way that you start to memorize your own words after reading through them enough times. At a certain point, it becomes difficult to tell whether you are responding to the actual words on the page anymore, or to what you *think* is on the page instead. This is why having lots of help editing and proof reading is helpful, and that’s one of the promises of publishing that Stash Books has definitely delivered on during this process. But it’s also helpful to just step away from your work once in a while so that you can approach it again with fresh eyes that are unclouded by your quasi-memorized ideas of what you think you wrote. These last couple months, during which my editors have been working on the manuscript without me, have allowed me to do just that.
One of the things about the publishing process that I didn’t anticipate was how much distance would develop between me and my manuscript, and this distance has actually been fantastically helpful. If my last post, about doubt, was all about the subjectivity of writing a book, my most recent step in the process–signing off on what Stash Books refers to as the “Flow”–has reintroduced a little objectivity back into my view of the book.
The flow is a hard copy document that places the images that will illustrate the book in line with the text. It doesn’t have any of the fancy design work or formatting that will make the final book look different from a Word document, but it does give the author and editors a sense of where the illustrations will fall with reference to the text. It also gives us one last chance to make sure that everything reads correctly and that there are no errors in the illustrations, captions, or photos. After I sign off on this version of the book, they won’t be able to make further changes to the text or illustrations, so it’s a rather high stakes document to read through. But, as I mentioned, the distance and perspective that I’ve gained from having a few months away from my text have helped me to look at it again through clearer eyes.
Fortunately, I like what I see–my developmental and tech editors have done a fantastic job of whipping my manuscript into shape. As an added thrill, I got to see the how-to photos and diagrams that will be included in the book for the first time. I’ve mentioned before that photography is one of the things that I find most challenging about blogging and writing patterns, and I couldn’t be happier with the way that the professionals at Stash Books have translated my amateur snapshots into photos that communicate to the reader how certain steps should be accomplished. I actually drew most of the illustrations and diagrams myself–either by hand or in Adobe Illustrator–but my understanding is that the illustrators at Stash Books had to tweak, or even redraw, them to meet the book’s specifications. Again, I’m so, so, pleased with what they produced, and it’s a special thrill to see something that you’ve roughly drawn out on paper re-interpreted into a smooth, beautiful diagram by a professional illustrator.
My years of college and grad school, in addition to the experiences I had working as a writing tutor and art history instructor, have made me a little heavy handed with the correction pen, so I hope that I won’t seem too critical in the flow draft that I send back to my tech editor, Alison. At the same time, I feel that I was really able to concentrate on the little nuances this time through. Even more than before, the book is starting to feel like a real thing instead of just a figment of my imagination. (And if that wasn’t enough, the five-pounds of paper that comprised my flow draft certainly reinforce the “real” factor.)
If you haven’t yet, click over to the recent post by my developmental editor, Michele Fry, at the Stash Books blog! She gives a great overview of her role in the publishing process, and there’s even a sneak peek of one of the quilts from the book!
Next month I’ll get to post about the cover of the book (which is already done, but I can’t share it with you yet). As always, though, feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments, and I’ll also try to address them in future posts! This series is for you readers who are curious about the publishing process, and I *love* to hear from you! Thanks again for reading!