Monday, September 13, 2010

White Rabbit

Things have been pretty hectic around here for the last several weeks and I know I've been neglecting my blogging duties. Most of the time I'm feeling about as harried as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland; constantly second guessing myself and certain that I'm forgetting something of the utmost importance.

I've been working on print projects at work for the last couple of weeks and my website work has fallen to the wayside. That's just the order of priorities lately. We have a partnership arrangement with another travel guide series and I've taken over managing the series while one of my co-workers is out on maternity leave through the end of the year. And of course all these books started arriving the minute I got back from my trip to Idaho.

Unfortunately, I can't be much more specific than that, partly because—you know—that would be unprofessional and I like my job and would hate to have this blog come back and bite me in the ass, and partly because I pulled a really bone-headed move a couple months back that made it just that much more likely someone I know in publishing might actually end up reading this blog, and that much more likely it could bite me in the ass.

You see, someone submitted a question to a publishing email list I'm on about linking protocols when blogging, and when I saw no one was answering him I decided to reply. I get asked questions about blogging fairly regularly, and I thought this was the email list from my editing class. The one with only 25 or so recipients, so I hit reply all, thinking other people from class might have similar questions.

Oh, but was that what actually happened? Of course not.

Instead of going out to 25 people I at least marginally know and may have exchanged pleasantries with, it turns out this was the Bay Area-wide publishing email list I'm on and my reply went out to over 1,000 people. I not only linked to this blog in my reply, but I also linked to the staff blog at work, which I post to with my real name. Oy. So yeah, anonymity out the window there. Not only that, but because it went out to such a large group, most of whom I've never met or heard of, I'm sure I came off as some supreme know-it-all. Which, of course, I am—but I try to keep it under wraps most of the time.

The moment I realized what I'd done, about 18 hours after the fact, I immediately went through all my posts since I first started blogging 2 years ago and either re-wrote or deleted anything the slightest bit negative about work. Granted there wasn't much (remember, I like my job), but still, that whole bite-me-in-the-ass thing. So anyhow, that's also part of the reason I've been keeping a low profile.

Anyhow, back to what I was saying… So yeah, I've been neck deep in a print project for the last few weeks  and oh my lord, I can't remember the last time I handled this much paper. I've got the papercuts to prove it, too! I'd give you a picture of all my bandages, but the camera battery is dead. (I'll let you image my whimpers of pain when I unthinkingly reached into jar of pickles over the weekend.) Today, alone, I went through 1st and 2nd pages of one manuscript (that'd be 2 copies of the same book), and 1st pages of 4 additional books.

Our publishing partner works with the authors and does most of the developmental and copy editing, handles layout, and is supposed to proof each book before it gets to us. Turns out, they didn't have a clear understanding of what proofing was until 2 weeks ago, so that's been part of the headache with this series.

Once the manuscript comes to us, I go through 1st pages once before sending out to the proofreader. I go through 1st pages again when they come back from the proofreader and check everything they've marked for correction. 1st pages then go to cartography for map updates and then to production. Production makes all the approved changes on 1st pages, then sends the 1st pages back to me with a set of 2nd pages. At that point I go through each set page-by-page and make sure all the marked corrections were made, flag anything that still needs to be addressed, then route the pages back to cartography for them to check. Then back to production they go.

Then 3rd pages come around. Hopefully that's the last set before the manuscript goes off to the printer (we're not at that stage yet, and since I've never been this involved in the process, I have no idea). The printer then runs a set of pages, bluelines, and sends them to us, which lets us see exactly how the book will appear in print. The pages make one more pass by me, cartography, and production. The only changes we make at this point are egregious factual errors that have somehow made it into the book—like the writers consistently misspelling the name of the travel guide series. Ahem. Did I say that? Then thousands of copies of the book are printed.

So how many times do I see each book? At least 6 or 7 times, and it's seen by at least 2 other people 3 to 4 times. Do I ever read it? No, I do not. Because I've got about 16 different books to do this with. Reading the book happens with copyediting, and the publishing partner is supposed to be handling that. That doesn't mean we don't still catch copyediting errors, but we're certainly not looking for them at the proofing stage.

It used to really annoy me when I'd find grammar and punctuation errors when reading for pleasure—and it still does. But now that I've worked in publishing for several years, I totally understand how they slip through. Though I still don't understand how that one book was missing the first 19 or so pages. You'd think someone would notice that.

Anyhow, that's what I've been up to.

In other news, I got my roo's in the mail! Grandma saves the day! They arrived with a hoody knit shirt, a tank top, and the one-and-only sweatshirt that I own. Yea, grandma! In return I sent her money for the postage and a copy of the recipe she had asked for. I made Orzo Zucchini Pasta Salad during our visit and it was a big hit. Though next year I'm stealing a page from my friend Becca's family gathering playbook and making my kalua pig. It never occurred to me to make it for a big group, but it's so super easy. Duh.

I may have pictures to share from vacation, but I don't know yet. (See note regarding dead battery above.)

Scoob and I spent the Labor Day holiday weekend apartment hunting and I've realized the budget I'd set for rent is not realistic and I'm going to have to come up with more money for rent. What really sucks is that our rent will be more than our mortgage. But we have to get out of here. We're trying to think of creative solutions, and we may have found one, but I can't discuss it here because of the bone-headed move mentioned earlier.

At any rate, I think we're going to try and stick it out here until March or so since the housing market typically slows through fall and winter—I do not want to be stuck holding rent and mortgage any longer than absolutely necessary. And it feels like listing the house now is just inviting unnecessary stress.

Also noteworthy, I did some serious shoe shopping over the holiday weekend. I've been told I need to post some pictures… Yeah, dead battery. I know, people. It's on the charger now.

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