Thursday, March 24, 2011

“No Sue, you absolutely mustn’t email the printer!”

You remember I received my approval (pre-release) copy of the book last Saturday? And that it had a gloss cover when I had asked for a matt one? Well, I spent the weekend reading the text again and found a dozen mistakes, and on Monday sent a corrected PDF of the text to the printer along with some requests about the cover -  “matt, please, and a deeper turquoise”  and “please will you slot in that symbol on the title-verso page that shows the paper comes from managed forests?” Then I sat back thinking – Ooh, it’ll be perfect now. I can’t wait for the next approval copy to come next Saturday.

Then I woke up this morning and picked up this same imperfect copy from my bedside table to have a little gloat despite its imperfections (as one does), and I opened it and saw that the font size on the title-verso page was way too big. Oh God! Why hadn’t I noticed before? What was I going to do? Here was I trying to get the thing to look perfect with not a whiff of self-publishing about it ( e.g. there is nothing that shrieks THIS NOVEL IS SELF-PUBLISHED louder than a gloss cover) and the font size on the publisher details page was three sizes too big. There followed an agony of indecision. Should I tell the printer and send him a new page? Should I wait until the final copy is printed in May?

And then I thought of a conversation I had with Zoe, who said it was absolutely fine for me to be ridiculously picky about the book production: it was nice for me to have something to pour all my pickiness into. And then I thought about the cultures where craftsmen deliberately include a mistake in their work, because only God can create things perfect. And then I thought of that motto that Dave gave me years ago - “Perfection is our aim. We must learn to tolerate excellence.” And then I thought – No, I don’t want to get the printer’s back up. This correction can wait.

But if the printer happens to be reading this and wouldn’t mind, perhaps he could email me. Or if you, dear reader, are married to the printer, or are his best friend, or you once saved his life in a freak yachting accident, perhaps you could ask him a favour for me.

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