How terrible would it be to have the word “cemetary” in a book about gravedigging? It almost happened!
I just finished an intense week of proofing the galley pages for We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the publishing process, the galleys are the pages of the book typeset into how they will look when the book is published. Authors get a chance to review the galleys for mistakes and make corrections.
My former teacher, longtime friend and mentor John Gaterud offered a few months ago to help me proof the galleys when they arrived. They came in the mail shortly before the New Year, so I contacted John to see if he was still willing to help. Bless his heart, despite his busy schedule juggling many projects, he said yes.
We met in four separate sessions for a total of about 10 hours. We took over the loft area at Weggy’s Bar & Grill near the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, where we poured some coffee and got to work.
John read the entire manuscript to me, OUT LOUD. Yes, he read 200 pages out loud. He paused whenever he had a question or suggestion. As he read, I was reading along on my own copy, really listening to how the words sounded. We mostly flagged grammatical issues. John is a journalist and taught for years in the Mass Communications department at MSU-M. I do not know a better editor. We found many clauses that were not offset by commas, and found a few instances of tense changes (a major weakness of mine), problems with we/us and me/I, and confusion over like/as. We found a total of three spelling errors. Pretty good for the entire book, but I sure hope we caught them all!
John was complimentary about the writing during this process. Coming from him, that means a lot. I trust John’s judgment completely. He knows his stuff when it comes to writing. Check out John’s Blueroad Press for some fantastic examples of exquisite writing. Blueroad’s A Song at Twilight won the 2012 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir/Creative Nonfiction.
This was my second time reading through the entire manuscript in six weeks. In early December, I reviewed the copy edits. I thought that I would be kind of sick of the book by now, and I actually was a little afraid to proof the galleys. What if I didn’t like the book? What if I started to have doubts about putting my story out there?
But I’m happy to say that as John was reading the book to me, I liked the way it turned out. I realized that in the last 12 years I have crafted and recrafted the words so they will tell the story in the best way possible. This is not a sloppy book; the process has not been rushed. At times, the slow process was frustrating, but now I see it had its purpose.
And am I finally done proofing pages! I hope so! It’s definitely time-consuming. For a person who isn’t real detail-oriented, it’s been a challenge. Now it’s on to setting up some events. Check out my Facebook page to stay updated on where I will be reading in the next few months.