Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum: Thoughts on Life as a Galley Slave

This morning, I received the galleys, or page proofs, for my March release, Touch of (cue ominous music) Evil. Since I only completed edits about a month ago and went through it again for copyedits two weeks back, I have to admit, I wasn't exactly thrilled to see it darken my door again so soon, especially since galleys always have a fairly short turnaround, and I'm working on getting a couple of proposals shaped up for submission.

But galleys matter. Really matter. They're the very last line of defense for your readers, and it's up to you to save them from any missed typos, screw-ups introduced during the editing process, and continuity errors. They're the last chance to wash the face and tie the shoelaces of this project you've sunk hundreds of hours into creating before you send it out into the world.

Give your galleys short shrift, and problems will come back to haunt you, if not in the guise of angry reader letters, then in lackluster reviews or more importantly, a lost opportunity for repeat business from readers jerked out of the story by your sloppy workmanship. Some writers might think, "Well, it's my job to write the story, and the editors' job to clean it up," but in the mind of most readers, the buck stops with the person whose name graces the cover of the book.

So there'll be no rum for me, or wine or vodka either, until I finish and not a lot of yo-ho-hoing, either, only sustained and serious concentration on a story as I wish it luck and send it on its way.

It's a goodbye for me as well, for this will be the last time I read the novel I've read so many times before. Many of my colleagues read their books as soon as they're in print, but I'm always afraid I'll spot some error that slipped past me, ones that can't be fixed. Besides, by the time this book appears, I'll be immersed in other projects, and as a writer, I much prefer looking forward and not back.

If anyone has any brilliant tips for improving your focus on galleys, I would love to hear them. Otherwise, I'll see you on the other side!


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