Thursday, March 26, 2009

First Pass Galleys

The galleys arrived by UPS on Monday. We co-authors have until April 10 to read and correct them. This is a great step up from the days when I worked on a book on heart disease. I remember giving birth to S, then coming home from the hospital to a 300-page package of galleys and a note from the publisher saying, "You have 48 hours to make any corrections." I read the entire book and marked it up while sitting on an inflatable donut and nursing a newborn. Then I wrote a glossary for it, which is the other thing they wanted right away. My co-author at the time, a really, really nice cardiologist, wrote me an email. It said: "You seem annoyed." I wrote back. "Do I?"

Now we have more than two weeks to read and obsess about every detail. The note attached to the galleys thoughtfully reminds us that any changes we make at this point are expensive and could be charged to our royalty account. Any changes that are not factual in nature or that involve adding more than a few words should be submitted on disk in a certain format. There's a whole tea ceremony involved for that. This is good information, because I read the first page and wanted desperately to rewrite every word of it. I felt visceral, palpable shame while reading those first paragraphs. I thought: This is a disaster. The whole book is a disaster. We have to stop this from happening.

Fortunately, I called my co-author at home. He answered and before I could get into my shame-a-thon he went on and on about how much he loves the book. This is the book he wanted us to write. This is the book he's ready to promote. "Don't the galleys look great?" he asked. And I found myself saying, "yes, yes, they do" while my worry leaked out of me. The good thing about having two authors is that we can take turns being crazy.

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