As a conservative estimate, by the time The Book went to press, I’d probably read and re-read the text four hundred billion times.
My method of writing was to start at around 6pm – after a day of procrastination – and to work through the night, powering through a few thousand words without stopping. Except to procrastinate and mainline coffee.
And then – at about 5am – when I couldn’t form another word – I’d spend another hour or so taking a second pass, sharpening up sentences and adding in jokes that only an idiot would have missed the first time. Then I’d pass out, despite the coffee.
Next day I would repeat the process, but the first hour would be spent going over the previous day’s output for a third time, correcting and editing.
Then – when the entire thing was finished – only about two months after my deadline – I went through it all again a couple of times, hacking and rehacking – often deleting entire chapters and restructuring how everything sits together. Then I read it again for typos.
Then I read it again, screaming to the heavens about how shit it all was. Then I did a Save-As to call the manuscript something more publisher friendly rather than ‘Paul’s Piece of Crap Book v43 (New).doc’. Then I submitted it. And then I vomitted.
Then the publisher took over – bringing with them a lawyer stage, a copy-editor stage, a proof stage, a corrected proof stage, a final proof stage and probably a bunch of stages I’ve forgotten. During this time, there were countless reads and re-reads, changes and un-changes.
Errors always slip through. Always. Either factual or grammatical or – worst of all – typographical. No matter how good the editor, copy-editor, typesetter or proof-reader (mine were all brilliant) and no matter how many pairs of eyes scan the pages, there are just too many points in the process at which fuck-ups can sneak in.
This is why the author is supposed to read the final, final proofs with an eagle eye – it’s their name on the cover so the buck stops with them. This is also why so many authors say in their Acknowledgments that any errors remaining in the final book are entirely their own fault.
I meant to say that in my own Acknowledgments, but I forgot. An error.
What I did say was that if anyone spots anything wrong, they should email me and I’ll correct it on the blog. And I will – every Sunday, in fact, in a regular feature I’ve decided to call ‘The Sunday Afternoon Fuck-Up Round-Up’.
Part one coming up any minute now. Watch the space directly above this one.