Yeee-haw! Whoop-de-do and hot-diddley-damn.

I sent the copyedit back yesterday, making the deadline in spite of–well, of course there were problems, this book has had nothing but problems. And despite it all, I like the book. I love the book, the characters, the setting(s), the story lines, the way it all turned out. The copyedit was good, solid, work, cleaning it up, making a number of ends match up more cleanly, changing words so they said what I wanted them to say. And of course, getting the trains, cars, and Cornish accents right.

My editor will then glance at my changes, pass it over to a hard-working (is there anything else, in publishing?) assistant who will take various copies and incorporate all the marks into one, and send it to the typesetter.

I don’t know what they pay a typesetter, but it isn’t enough. Even the clean pages have changes, and the bad ones use every one of those squiggles and widgets the dictionary gives under “Proof marks” with sections that were so absolutely illegible they had to be retyped and stapled onto the original. Maybe fifty of those, if you’re interested.

(There’s a reason this object, which has been worked on by half a dozen sets of hands and is eventually returned to the author for her files, a tattered, dirty pile of paper, is known technically as “foul matter.”)

But the next time I see it, TOUCHSTONE will be a set of clean, perfect, pages that appear as they will in the actual book. That’s the proof page stage, or galleys, and I read those just to make sure the typesetter caught every one of my ten thousand changes, or enough of them to make sense of the story. The ARC (Advanced Reading Copies) that are sent to bookstores and appear almost instantaneously on eBay are printed from these pages, which is why ARCs say on the front that quotes in reviews need to be checked with the final version. No fair a review criticizing something that is then changed before the hardback comes out.

And then, after I send back the proof pages with their more genteel marks and additions…


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  1. Kerry on September 5, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Congratulations to you, and yay for us, too, with Touchstone that much closer to our hot little hands. But your last line now has me wondering — do you never read your own books after they’re published? I mean, I can understand why you wouldn’t, truly. But I got a real jolt thinking that something that will, if previous books are any indication, bring me as much pleasure on the 5th reading as the 1st not doing the same for the author.

    Weird, but not . . .

  2. Roxanne on September 5, 2007 at 11:26 am

    Wheee-hoo! and Yeee-haw! indeed! A congratulations to you and an “I-can’t-wait” for the rest of us . . .

  3. admin on September 5, 2007 at 11:30 am

    If I read the book later, all I see are the misteaks that excaped me. The multiple uses of turned, the sentence that uses the word “back” in three different senses, the spot where one judicial phrase would have illuminated so much…


  4. Carlina on September 5, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    “Hot-diddley-damn”! Now there is a term I haven’t heard in ages. You must be over the moon! Much congratulations! I cannot wait to see the final project and sink my mind into it!

  5. Kerry on September 5, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Yes, that’s what I assumed when you said you never had to read it again. I wince when I read old stuff of my own, so can sympathize. I’m just sorry you can’t see it with our eyes and experience it from our perspective. We’ll just have to be vocal in our admiration so you can enjoy it vicariously!

  6. cherie on September 5, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    While I understand your feelings of gleeful abandonment, I, too, wish you could experience the same excitement we do when we see the final product for the first time and then gleefully abandon whatever we ought to be doing for what we want to do: hide away with your work!!

  7. nkk1969 on September 5, 2007 at 7:09 pm

    Funny you should mention the ARC copies on Ebay. About a month ago we had a discussion over at the Books and Writers Community on Compuserve about this very thing. Someone was selling MP3 copies of Diana Gabaldon’s books on Ebay (which is illegal, as Recored Books has not released them in that format) and this led to us searching her name and book titles on Ebay. They were selling the ARCs of her new (as then unreleased)book, no big surprise there, but the price was astounding. The final bid went for something close to 4 times the retail price of the book.

    This just blows my mind. If I got ARC copies of a book written by a beloved author, I’d never let one go. But then, there are those folks who bring boxes of books to signings so they can sell signed first editions in Ebay. The love of money truly is the root of all evil…book sales evils, anyway. 😉


    P.S. Vicki mentions the legal dept. quite often on the VBC. Does me mentioning the other forum bother the legal dept.? If so, delete the reference and I’ll know not to do that in the future.

  8. nkk1969 on September 5, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Okay, so posting that last message made me wonder if they were selling illegal MP3s of any of your books on Ebay. Guess what? They are. From What Diana said, RBI does not yet offer MP3 formats. If you want to have RBI conact Ebay and get the listing removed, you can. If you need more info, email me and I’ll give you the listing number.

  9. vicki on September 5, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    No problem mentioning the other forum, Nikki–we love to have readerly/writerly community cross-over! Regarding the Legal Dep’t, what we’re trying to be careful about is having pieces of fanfic or specific discussions of particular fanfic pieces right on the VBC, since Laurie is a participating member. But for anyone interested in Mary Russell fanfic, there is an excellent community called Letters of Mary, where many of our VBC members are active, both writing pieces and offering supportive critiques and editing. Check it out–


  10. corgimom on September 6, 2007 at 8:20 am

    Many grand congratulations and a hearty celebration to you! I hope to soon figure out access to the VBC and wonder whether we will be having a publishing party either there or here, or both? I’m thinking the standard wine and chocolate, with perhaps some specialized polenta…

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