Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby's Day Out

You know it’s fall when Bob Woodward is getting ready to drop another headline-making tome. Yes, fall is here. Publishing’s best season.

We publish all year long but the heaviest books—literally the heaviest—come out in the fall. Biographies, current affairs, and big-name authors take center stage in the season leading up to the buying holidays.

After weeks of anxious emails from authors, the fall books begin to arrive in the office, fresh off the printer’s truck. But opening the box can be a little nerve-wracking.

A year of planning and production (from word documents, to copyediting, to galleys), leads up to the moment when the books are done. The book is born and any mistakes still left in the pages are here to stay—unless, maybe, hopefully, the book is reprinted due to great demand.

Like a parent counts their newborn’s fingers and toes, we check for mistakes as we unpack the boxes. And then, after we've sent the book to the author, we wait for them to call. What will they say? Will they find something we overlooked?

The problem with an error in a finished book is that no matter how small it may be, the error overshadows the rest of the book. If an author is unhappy with a bio, for example, that incorrectly states where they received their Ph.D., well, it doesn’t matter how great the rest of the book looks. The book might as well be stamped with the word: faulty. It’s a bad feeling.

Last week, an author called and said he was thrilled with the way his book turned out. Phew. It had been a complicated book with illustrations and color inserts, typical of a fall book. He was so happy, he said, he was taking the book out to dinner. I didn’t think much of it, but the next day he sent me a picture of the book propped up on a table at a fancy restaurant next to a glass of wine. Looks like it was good, well-deserved night out.

1 comment:

  1. HA! That's hilarious! If I wrote a book, I would take it out to dinner too.

    Are you going to review the Woodward book?? wink wink