33: Production Schedule, Part III – The Finale

29 June 2011

To choose a typesetting format, Charlotte (the designer) mocked-up Chapter 1 in three example styles. I commented, she altered them, I agonised for a week, then picked one.

Sara (the production manager) and I then went back and forth, tweaking the chosen style, for eight days and 23 emails, before I signed it off and she sent the manuscript to be typeset. 

The first proof of the whole book came back a week later. After a day poring over typeset pages, I made a list of 108 changes (that’s three pages of bullet points), before it was sent to the second (and final) proof-reader.

I received the revised proof (an inch-thick stack of A4) in early May, at which point I had two weeks to:

  • check it was set out properly and
  • make sure every number in the book could be referenced.

The of-the-moment e-diary, which forms the spine of the narrative, comes with a stream of data regarding human civilisation (and other things …). However, at the time I was scribbling it down, I wasn’t noting where I’d found the numbers. They were mainly from internet-derived primary sources and high-end current affairs periodicals, but if I’m honest I got at least one statistic off the back of a Rizla packet.

If The Jolly Pilgrim is going to have the razor-sharp intellectual credibility it requires (and it will), then everything needs to be referenced on the website. I therefore had to either source every number in the book or replace them with ones I could.

Massive job.

It took two days, from morning till midnight, poring over chunky reference books, UN reports, IMF surveys and scientific publications: hard, grinding, mentalist, coffee-fuelled work. Did it though. Not a decimal point can’t be backed-up. I posted the red-pen-peppered stack of paper back to Sara on 25 May.

Seven days later, the final proof arrived in a big brown jiffy bag. Sara (who bosses me around) told me I had to read the whole thing again, so I arranged my life accordingly, got home that Friday, ate a meal, cleared my logistics and hit it hard on Saturday morning. So, on the second weekend of June, I read my own whole first book, from cover to cover, for probably the last time.

Systematically spotting inconsistencies in huge pieces of text is a skill which only comes with practise. That year in a shed sure did tool me up for those final production phases. Sara was right to make me re-read it. There’s a bit in Chapter 9 (opining on the medium-term goals of civilisation) where too many cooks had made my broth slow: something that’s forbidden in The Jolly Pilgrim.

After two 4 a.m. finishes, a slow Monday morning, a 90-minute call with Sara to action the changes, receiving the (revised, revised …) proof by email and giving it the thumbs up, there was one more stage: Sara would do a final read through (you can’t accuse us of lacking psychopathic attention to detail). She completed that across the 15th and 16th June, proposing nine minor changes (two: the additions of commas, one: a line spacing). I responded: no, no, no, yes, no, no, no, yes, yes.

That afternoon Sara sent the files to the printers. That was 12 days ago.

Since February, when people asked if I was excited, my stock response has been that I’m too busy with the next stage’s details. Well, that evening I got back to Manor Park, had a chat with Norge, my webmancer, then, strolling home, felt a rising tide of joy from within.

It’s all good. The 144,000 words in that book are exactly the right ones. All the things I’m itching to say about the world. A modern synthesis. A message of hope. My heart and soul.

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3 Responses to “33: Production Schedule, Part III – The Finale”

  1. Joanne Taylor-Horne Says:

    I too feel the rising tide of excitement, anticipation and lack of patience to read the damn thing!!!! Can’t bloody wait! xxx

  2. Mark Snare Says:

    is it a cookery book? I suffer from disappointing meringues

  3. Josh S-D Says:

    looking forward to seeing it being bound on wednesday!

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