Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Making Reviewer Copies

Once I've written and polished and checked out the novel as much as I can, it's time to call in other eyes. Over the years, I've found volunteers who will read my story and mark it up with the errors and problems they find.
Originally, I gave them a copy of the manuscript in the form that I wrote it -- the 'standard manuscript format' that all editors prefer. This is single sided, double spaced, one inch margins. Anything that's supposed to be in italics is actually underlined and bold is actually underlined with a wavy line. In the past it was even more restrictive, including good bond paper, courier 10 font and other limitations. However, some of those restrictions have loosened. The main problem with manuscript format is although I've very comfortable with it, and editors demand it, ordinary readers had problems with reading a whole book one sheet at a time, unbound, out of a box.
A few years ago, I developed this new format, times font, two column, like a magazine. Real italics, real bold, and single spaced. It's a lot easier to read, and takes a whole lot less paper. This 500 page manuscript is printed on 97 sheets of paper. We bought a binding machine and I developed a macro that automatically converts standard format to this reader format in one step.
So, now comes the next step, I have to mail out all of these, including a return mailer, and hope that they all come back in a reasonable time frame.
It's been a little harder this time, with the toner running out, and having to reprint a number of pages. The easiest time was in Breckenridge when I just turned it all over to Kinkos. Of course that costs a bit more.

Some reviewers have come and gone. But the number appears to be growing over time. And each reviewer brings different strengths to the mix. One is a great proofreader. Another always seems to bring a fresh insight to the mix. And sometimes there are errors that everyone finds. It's an expense, but worth every penny.

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