This is it.
It arrived in my inbox yesterday. It took twenty-one instalments of twenty pages at a time, almost a complete ream of paper, two ink cartridges, and a maximum dose of patience to print out on my slow, hesitant ancient little desk-jet printer.
It is the final proof!
It’s a bizarrely strange and exhilarating feeling to hold this sheaf of paper in my hands. Clearly I have done many rounds of proofing before, right up to the final proof before original publication. But this is different. This is a document formatted for paperback publishing; each page is laid out exactly as it will appear in the actual book! This is a manuscript prepared and proofed for me by someone else. In a different font. It looks and feels completely different to the last version of the manuscript that I clutched in my trembling hands. This is final! When I am done with this, it will go to the printer. Whoa!
What will I do with it? First of all, I shall read it back to front, and bottom up. I’m not looking to read the story this time; I am looking once again for typos, missing punctuation marks, errant parentheses and other fine points of style and grammar. Whatever I find, I shall note down and send back to the wonderful team at Sapphire Star.
Next, I shall go through the proofing sheet sent by Sapphire Star to look through and approve the last set of comments or changes made by the publisher. This, I will do during a traditional front-to-back-top-to-bottom read. So essentially, in the next week, I shall read this manuscript twice. Thank God it’s the school holidays so I have lots of uninterrupted time at my hands… not! :-)
I am tremendously excited. This is it; this is real. Signing the publishing contract ‘way back when’ in February felt real, but in an abstract way. This is really real. Roll on 6 September when I shall hold, not a proof but an actual book in my hands. Whooooop!
It’s a big deal to me, and therefore I send apologies just in case I’m going on about it in an undue fashion. But it is very exciting… the last step on the way to actual printing.
If you’re an author, how do you feel when the final proof lands in your hand? And what proofing strategies do you employ at this, the end-stage of the process?