Posted on April 16, 2009 - by katy
So how does a pile of grubby tea-stained paper become a printed book?
First, an editor reads through the book and thinks about it carefully. Are all the characters interesting enough? Maybe one or two of them need to be got rid of. Does the plot move quickly or get bogged down? Are there too many plots in one book? Does the ending work or has the author rushed it and left loose ends dangling?
The editor and author agree (or not!) on what changes need to be made, and the author sends in a second draught. If everything is OK, this second draught gets passed on – to another editor!
The copy-editor reads through the second draught, checking it for mistakes. Does the main character’s hair change colour halfway through the book? Does the timing work? Perhaps a villain who was killed off in chapter one accidentally returns in chapter six. The copy-editor will also correct spelling and question anything else that doesn’t seem to make sense. After all these changes have been agreed with the author, or a compromise has been reached, the copy-edited manuscript is typeset.
The typesetter takes a Word document and makes all the changes requested by the copy-editor, then feeds it into a specially designed layout. The tea-stained bundle of paper is starting to look like a book. Part of the typesetter’s job is to ensure the text fits into the pages well. It is a difficult and fiddly task.
The typeset book has now become a set of proofs. These proofs are read very carefully and also checked against the original copy-edited manuscript. This is to make sure the typesetter made all the corrections, and that nothing has been missed out or accidentally repeated (like an entire chapter… ARGH!). The proofreader will also check again for spelling mistakes and any remaining errors the copy-editor might have missed. Once everyone is happy (they are usually working to an exceptionally tight schedule!) the approved proofs are sent to the printer.
Sometimes mistakes slip through the net! Have you ever read a book and spotted one?