Monday, July 29, 2013
Editing a Galley Proof
By Beth Groundwater
I just finished editing the galley proof for my November book release, A Basket of Trouble, the long-awaited third book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer series. What is a galley proof, you might ask? It's a page-by-page layout of the print-ready manuscript, sent to the author and others to do a final edit before it goes to the printer. Where did the term come from? As Wikipedia explains, "Galley proofs are so named because in the days of hand-set type, the printer would set the page into galleys, the metal trays into which type was laid and tightened into place. These would be used to print a limited number of copies for editing mark-up."
My Midnight Ink copy editor sent me the galley proof two weeks ago along with a few questions and a request for two missing items, a dedication and the acknowledgements. I was given the choice of marking my changes on the paper manuscript itself and mailing it back or emailing detailed change instructions to the copy editor. I always choose the second option and send back a list of directions that say, "Page xxx, xxx lines from top: change xxx to xxx." and so on.
This time, the file of changes was 5 pages long. Why so long? Well, one page of that was the Dedication and Acknowledgements. Another set of changes were suggestions of which reviews of prior books in the series should be quoted in the pages prior to the start of the novel.
A full page of changes was due to a reader winning a character name in a silent auction at the Left Coast Crime conference in Colorado Springs, CO, this spring. I not only changed the character name to match hers, I changed the character's hair color to match hers and the character's shirt color to match her favorite color. I try to weave in personal details like this for readers who "win" a character name in a silent or live auction at a mystery conference.
Another set of changes were to address a question asked by the copy editor, who pointed out that I was inconsistent in talking about a business trip taken by my sleuth's husband, Roger Hanover. I made sure all references to the trip were for the same length of time and that references to his return all used the same day of the week. I sent him on the trip to get him out of the way, so Claire could feel free to snoop as much as she wanted. The trip was unimportant, really. But this is just one example of all of the small details that have to be kept consistent in a novel. This is especially true for mystery novels, where inconsistency could be interpreted by readers to be a clue!
Am I sure that all the errors have been caught? Heck, no! The copy editor and I are human, after all, and humans make mistakes. But at least there will be fewer mistakes in the final book than there were in the galley proof. And, the proof is going out to other Midnight Ink staff and reviewers, too. They all may catch errors that I and my copy editor did not.
My main concern is that A Basket of Trouble be a fun and exciting read. Hopefully no readers will be pulled out of the story by stumbling across a typo, spelling or punctuation error. Have you been pulled out of a story recently by such an error? Share it with us here!