Book blog – our endgame revision and proofing


Barbara and I are now on final descent with our new writing book, Detox your writing. We’ll have it to the publisher sometime next week. Yippee.

Our process of final revision and proof-reading has been in several stages.

About three weeks ago I amalgamated all of our ten separate chapters into one text. I put the whole lot into a different font, so ‘the book’ appeared different from our draft chapters – and there had been several drafts.

I then added a title page and wrote the acknowledgements. The manuscript now looked like a real book. Then we knew we were really at the last stage.

I then worked on formatting and consistency issues – I went through the whole document checking for:

(1) consistency in the ways in which we had used, numbered and introduced break-out boxes, tables and figures
(2) consistency in referencing and citations. At this point I ensured that everything was in Endnote – I picked up a few things we’d missed including the inevitable page number here and there
(3) any permissions that we still needed – and got them where necessary
(4) spelling and grammar – I used the computer facility to re-check (but actually there weren’t really any major issues as we’d got most of this right in drafts)
(5) any obvious gaps in introductions, conclusions and transitions that we hadn’t come back to
(6) anywhere where there might be better or more examples added
(7) congruence between the ways in which we’d talked about the chapters in the introduction (we’d written this a long time ago) and the chapters as they now are.

While I was doing this Barbara made a list of chapter titles and headings, to check for consistency of style and for flow. The titles and headings should make sense on their own as an outline – they didn’t quite in a couple of cases. Barbara also looked at the basic moves in each chapter – the problem we were addressing, our reframing and the strategies we proposed – to see if they were still OK. We’d done lots of work on these but it’s always important to check. We then skyped about the work that Barbara had done, and made a further few adjustments to the whole text.

We’re working from a shared drop box so this second version of the whole text was carefully labelled so we can always differentiate between the versions – and work on the latest one.

Barbara then printed out the whole text and worked through it looking for:

(1) consistency in the ways in which we’d introduced people – first and second name, area of work and institution
(2) inadvertent rather than deliberate word repetition
(3) surplus words and paragraphs where we’d labored a point too much and needed to cut
(4) places where we’d got a bit cryptic and need to expand (not much of that)
(5) places where we’d introduced a key term before we’d actually explained it
(6) style issues – places where we could just say something better than we had (lots and lots of those).

She’s now tracking these changes in the document and highlighting anything that she thinks we need to talk about.

I’m following along a couple of chapters behind, checking on the changes she’s made, and adding any others of my own. I’m working on the screen, not on a print-out. I’m also particularly looking for consistency in the way we’ve added emphasis – I know there was originally a mix of italics and bold in the separate chapters and I’m not sure I got them all the first time through. She works on the document at different times to me, and we do need to make sure that we don’t overlap on my morning and her late afternoon.

We’ve already cut about three thousand words from the first version of the whole text and I’m interested to see what the overall tightening up will achieve. Less is good.

When we make any major-ish changes we’re emailing each other to say what we’ve done so we understand each other’s logic. We have a skype planned this coming weekend where we’ll compare notes, discuss any highlighted bits and make final decisions. I’ll then accept all changes, make another version of the text and we’ll have one final read-through and an email exchange.

I’ll then make the final version. I’ll format the manuscript in the way the publisher wants it, get together all of the accompanying files – permissions, pictures, tables and figures – and send it off.

That then will be it!! Well, it’ll be it until the copy-editor queries start to arrive. It’s always handy to have that other pair of eyes on the text but I don’t look forward to more fiddly bits …

Oh, and the inevitable discussion of the cover is now starting up.