Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Proof Is in the Pudding

(Mmm. Pudding.)

And the proofs are also in my hands, as you can see here:

(I imagine y'all might be getting sick of my nattering about Second Sight, but I'm going to talk about this anyway, as it's a nice opportunity for you writers to see a little of the behind-the-scenes book manufacturing process.)

So: This is the cover proof, which I have to approve for color and final text. Both at work and here, the cover proofs come with clear plastic overlays, one for each of the various kinds of cover effects. Here I'm just getting a gloss coating, so there's just one overlay; but if I were getting, say, matte lamination along with spot gloss (aka "spot UV"), then there would be two overlays, one showing the matte layer, one showing the gloss layer, each one positioned precisely to show what areas of the color proof that effect would cover.

And then there can also be overlays for embossing, debossing, foil color #1, foil color #2, printing on foil . . . all the myriad ways in which you can bling up a book, for better or worse. Each individual effect costs money -- an additional three to eighteen cents per effect, per book (costs quoted off the top of my head), depending on the effect and the amount it's used and the print run and so forth -- which goes directly to the unit cost of the book. So the more effects a book has, the higher the unit cost, and the more expensive the book itself might be as well; but that can also pay off, if the effects result in more attention from buyers or a more attractive package overall.

Here's something I don't see at work: an actual bound book proof for approval! At work we see "lasers" or "blues," which likewise provide an absolute last chance for any text changes, but which arrive either as loose pages printed on both sides of special laser paper, or on blueprint paper printed in signatures (hence the terms). I assume whether the proofs come bound or unbound depends on the printer and its arrangements with the production department. And I think I prefer unbound proofs, actually, as they're easier to lay flat, consider, and mark up.

(Which is not to say I am not THRILLED with this as a proof: It's a book! A real book! If my unit cost had increased every time I squeed over this today, I could no longer afford to print it.)

And here you can see the actual interior, showing a spread from "Words, Wisdom, Art and Heart." The pictures are printing very nicely, which was a big concern for me; sometimes you need heavier paper to prevent bleed-through, or more grayscale to render the tones of a photograph correctly, but that doesn't seem to be an issue here. I'm going to go through this proof page by page to confirm that all the pages are there, in order, and no lines have slipped or text gone missing; and then I have to sign and return both proofs to the printer.

Then, in just under three weeks, it will be a real book, with the cover attached. I've set the official pub date as 3/11/11, by which date the books should have reached the warehouse and be available for delivery. (Ordering information to come soon.) Once again: Squee!

ETA, 2/17/11: The cover proof was fine, but I decided to make three corrections to the interior: one italicization that went wonky in the last round of proofing; one incorrect word I'd missed; and one fairly large typo I couldn't let stand. Cost of making these corrections: $52. Feeling like my book is that much more complete: Priceless.


  1. I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special read. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  2. Cool cover, Cheryl! I am so looking forward to reading your book and finally having all your fantastic (and incredibly informative) talks in one place. And thanks for sharing the details of the cover process . . . very interesting! Cngratulations! :)

  3. So why doesn't fiction have internal pictures too (other than the occasional spot art)? I can imagine a fantasy book with a few detailed pictures of fairies, etc.

  4. That's so exciting! You should definitely talk about all this stuff. Glad publication day is coming soon.

  5. Excellent fun. Do you plan to publish electronically as well?

  6. Your sense of excitement is catching. Congratulations! I can't wait until your book is available.

  7. @Rusty: We frequently DO publish novels with internal illustrations for younger readers. But in U.S. children's/YA publishing, illustrations make a book read younger. And from an aesthetic perspective, they can be redundant with the text; and from an economic one, they can add a lot more money to an already strained P&L. So it has to be a justified expenditure that really adds to the book.

    @Munk: I do plan an e-edition at some point, but my focus has been on the physical edition first (which has been quite enough work on its own!). Maybe later this spring.

  8. Your grandfather would be so proud. I think everyone in Missouri would have heard about this imminent publication several times over.

  9. Thanks Cheryl: My penny pinching ways be damned, I'm in for the hardback.

    @Floyd P: Brilliant comment.

  10. Can't wait to order it!