Another thought about proofs

4 March 2009 in The Mistress of Nothing

An odd thing about correcting the proofs of a manuscript:  the process is identical to that of twenty years ago when I published my first book.  The proofs (picture below) arrive via the post in a jiffy bag envelope, loose-leaf on A4, but typeset in the font and style of the finished book.  You sit there, and you read it, with a red pen to hand, making proof-reading markings for crossings out and additions - that whole ‘stet’ thing.  You add notes, etc., as you see fit, questions, comments, then you parcel the thing back up in a jiffy bag and post the thing back to your editor.  Nothing remotely electronic or digital involved.

This strikes me as odd and interesting.  My editor could have e-mailed me a pdf of the proofs - in fact, she did, but she offered to print it out and post it to me as well, and I took her up on that.  I would not be able to read and correct a set of proofs for a print book on-screen, though I read and correct electronic drafts of digital fiction online perfectly happily.  My keyboard doesn’t have the funny marks I make on the page when I proof-read - I could use track changes or highlighting or whatever, but that’s not as much fun, not as satisfying. And I hardly ever get to use a red pen ordinarily.

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