Latest bulletin: We should be able to get out of driveway by 2:00 this afternoon. Of course with the temperature going to 101 degrees and our ozone alert level headed for "Code Purple." I'm not sure why I would consider going outside.
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I've been passing the time by running one more "final" edit on my upcoming book, even though its editor and I have already passed it back and forth several times. This time, I'm just looking for last-minute blips, not substantial changes. As a guide, I've been following a list put out some time ago by Joel Friedlander. This is what he says you should look for before you submit your final manuscript
1. Get rid of extra spaces. Whether you’ve used them for spacing or between sentences, your file should contain no double spaces at all.
2. Get rid of extra paragraph returns. We space things out so they look nice on the screen, but we don’t need or want them for typesetting. Your file should have no double paragraph returns in it.
3. Style, don’t format. When you highlight and format a piece of text, it may not survive the transition to the layout software. But if you learn to use styles your document will be more consistent and all the styles will translate just fine.
4. Account for unusual characters. If your manuscript uses unusual accents or other diacritical marks, make sure your designer knows in advance. They’ll be able to tell you the best way to ensure they are accurately translated.
5. Eliminate underlines. In book typography, we use italic fonts for emphasis, and almost never use underlines, not even for URLs.
6. Eliminate bold in your text. See #5, above. Although bold is often used for headings and subheadings, it doesn’t belong in the body of your text, use italic instead.
7. Resolve markups. Sometimes manuscripts arrive with unresolved issues in the markup, perhaps from an early reader or an editor. Your designer won’t know how to resolve them before the file is stripped of its code and ported to layout software.
8. Check for completeness. It’s very common for some parts of your book to arrive later than other parts. For instance, you might be waiting for a Library of Congress number or a CIP block, or there might be permissions late to arrive, or an index that will be dropped in after everything else is done. But don’t send a manuscript off to production if it’s missing major elements, whole chapters, some dialogue you’ll “be finished with in the morning,” or the rest of the quotes you want at the chapter openings, but haven’t picked yet. All of this makes the production of your book less efficient and more prone to errors.
9. Find and eliminate errant spaces. This is a tricky one, but will be caught in a close reading. You are proofreading before you go to press, right? What happens here, especially in books that are heavy with dialogue, is that a space will creep into the wrong place. You can’t catch these by searching for two spaces in a row. For instance, a space before a closing quote might turn it into an open quote when it gets to typesetting.
10. Proofread a monospaced copy. Every one of the errors I’ve talked about here is easier to spot if you do this last one. Save a copy of your book manuscript and change it to a monospaced font like Courier. You can use 10 point or 11 point and set your line spacing to 1.5 lines or double spacing and print it out or make a PDF. Then proofread that one, you’ll be amazed at the things that pop out that you completely missed when you read it in Garamond or Times New Roman.
Have I found problems? Oh, yeah! Of course I have, and I have many pages to go. That last idea of using a monospaced copy really makes a difference. I hate it, but it works. That's where I see the errors.
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One last item. In the next couple of days I'll be sending the completed manuscript out to a selected group of beta-readers, with several goals in mind.
(1) If there's a real problem with anything in the book, I need to hear about it now, not after it is in print.
(2), I'm asking that each beta-reader send me a review that could be used (or quoted from) in the book, in promotional materials, and on the internet. I still have a couple of slots to fill, so if you would be interested in doing an early review of "The Road to Frogmore," please let me know right away. I could especially use a male point-of-view.
(2) I will reciprocate by giving each reviewer full credit and by promoting your own work (book, website, etc) in my promotions, social media pages, and my own website.