I'm approaching the final stage with my book that will be released in September 2007. Press deadline falls in June, so this week and possibly the next will be filled with last minute details. The map of ancient Mesoamerica is finished and approved. The final copyedits were made last week, and now I'm waiting for the typeset proof (also called a galley).
Last minute things include finalizing endorsements, writing a pronunciation guide for the audio book, and proofing the final galley.
This stage is always a little intimidating to me. It's the first time that I'll see my manuscript in the printed format of the book, but it's also the last time I'll be able to change anything. And since the editing stage is already passed, I can't change much more than a typo or grammar error.
It's also crunch time. Usually the turnaround time is 48 hours to proof the typeset and turn it back in. Last year, I split up the book between a couple of readers and myself. When I read my own work, sometimes I miss the smallest details. So it's always nice to have a 2nd pair of eyes.
Even after all the hard work, there always seems to be at least one or two errors that will slip through. And I won't be the one to find them. Usually a reader will point them out to me. Once the book hits the shelves, I'm too afraid to read the printed version. I know I'll find something I want to change. And it's too late. Interestingly enough, the errors that do come through are from the diskchanging process. This means that when I make a correction on the manuscript, I don't physically make it. It's typed in by another person (disk changer). This is where the error can occur. And so that makes reading the final typeset all that more important.
In my first book, the word mountain was spelled wrong. I couldn't believe it. I checked my original submission and sure enough, it was spelled right. But the sentence must have been transposed somehow in the copyediting process and mountain was retyped.
So as I'm on the eve of the final read, you can be sure I'll be extra careful.