Page Proof Anxieties

I wonder if the old hands at this game still get excited when they receive their page proofs or the first bound copy of their book. Y’know – does Stephen King tear open the package and enjoy the feel and look of his new book? Does Ian Rankin put his page proofs on his desk, centre stage?

Well, I’m still new to this game so . . . I do. I feel excited when I see the first cover designs. I love receiving a bound book proof and the page proofs. And then finally holding the completed article in my hands? Oh yeah, I love it.

Dark Horizons Page Proofs

But there’s something lurking underneath. I mean, isn’t there always something lurking underneath?

Yesterday the page proofs for DARK HORIZONS arrived, and that means it’s getting close to publication time. This is the last step in a long process that brings the story out of my head and settles it between some well-designed covers. This is ‘last chance saloon’ for me to re-visit my story before it is finalised; a story I wrote some time ago. In fact, I’ve drafted two novels since I wrote DARK HORIZONS. So it is with a jumble of feelings that I’m going to read it. Excitement? Sure. Enjoyment? Of course Pride? Well, maybe a little.  But we writers like to change things. We like to use a different word here, remove another from there, change a few around over there. We like to shape and mold and improve. We always see something that could be better; something we want to fix.

Gene Fowler said ‘a book is never finished; it’s abandoned‘ (which he pinched from Leonardo Da Vinci who said a similar thing about ‘art’), and I think it’s true. Most writers could probably go on changing and tweaking forever, but when it gets to the page proof stage it’s ‘hands off unless absolutely necessary’. After all, it has to be ready at some point, right? There has to be a moment when you turn away from it and say, ‘OK, it’s ready for people to see.’ And we’re getting to that time.

So while it’s thrilling to read what is the final, typeset version of my novel, I just KNOW that I’m going to want to change things. It’s in my nature.

And after that? *sharp intake of breath*. Well, I just hope everyone enjoys reading it.

(aside – I’ve read, re-read, changed and edited THIS POST, for goodness sake! And when I click ‘publish’ I’ll still see something that isn’t right. A typo, maybe, or perhaps a place where I might’ve phrased something better. Obsessive, much?)

Right, go and pre-order DARK HORIZONS. You’re going to love it.

Visit Dan Smith’s Official Website


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