This is a continuation of a series of posts that I started what seems like a long time ago about getting a book designed and published. The series starts here.
I’ve already posted about how I’m proofing the images for the book. However, there’s a less-fascinating (to photographers) but still important, proofing task: all the text. There are five main conceptual groups of text in the book.
- A forward, written by Brian Taylor
- An introduction, written by moi
- An afterword, also by me
- The captions
- All the miscellaneous tittles, copyright notices, credits, etc, sprinkled throughout the book, the dust cover, and the slipcase.
I proofed all the text for the first three before I sent the copy to Jerry as three Word documents. Brian’s writing style is quite different from mine, and I didn’t do any style edits on his piece. I dealt with the captions by putting them into the metadata of their respective images before I sent the images to Jerry. I figured that would keep each image associated with its caption, eliminating the embarrassing and frustratingly difficult to find error of captioning the wrong picture.
Jerry and his people put the text and photos into an InDesign document, exported it as a PDF, and sent it to me for proofing. I proof better from hard copy than from a computer screen. I don’t know why, but I just see little things when I’m looking at paper, things that might easily escape my attention on the screen. So I printed out the PDF. I immediately ran into a problem. The pages in the PDF were full spreads — what will become two facing pages in the printed book. Since there are many images that span two pages, this is a good way to visualize the aesthetics of the book. However, when a double page is printed on the largest non-photographic printer I have (8.5×11 inches) almost all the text is illegible, at least to these tired old eyes.
Jerry reformatted the PDF into pages, and things were better, but still not great. I had special difficulty with the captions, which are printed using a 50% gray spot color, so they don’t distract the viewer from the image itself.
I had to proof the captions on the screen. When I did, I found some of them were with the wrong image. Apparently, rather than having InDesign place the captions automatically from the metadata, Jerry and his designers placed them manually. I also found errors in my own captioning in Lightroom.
When all was said and done, neither Jerry nor I had high confidence that we’d gotten all the mistakes worth finding. Jerry offered to find a proofreader. I said yes.
Five hundred dollars and two weeks later, Jerry had a hard copy printout of the book marked up by the proofreader. She found a lot of errors, some of which I wouldn’t have bothered fixing, and many that would have made me blush had they found their way into the final book.
I wanted to see what the proofreader had done, but at the time I was housebound. Jerry’s designer had made the corrections in an InDesign file, and apparently InDesign doesn’t have an equivalent of the Word revisions tools. In any event, Jerry couldn’t email me the markup; if I wanted to see it, snail mail was the only choice. I decided not to do that, and just did an on-screen proof of what the proofreader had done. She made many changes that were hard for me to find, which I guess means that she did a good job.