A Grueling Search for Tiny Things – Careful Proofreading matters

The proofreading is finished! It was a grueling and worthwhile task. My team of 3 (my editor, my eagle-eyed friend, Barbara, and myself) have combed proof copies of Immigrant Soldier.

My editor used a time honored method for checking a final proof of material seen too often—she read it backward. My friend read it for the first time, and her skill as a finder of errors was amazing. I sat down and read it as if I was simply your average recreational reader. Between us, we found close to 80 things that needed to be corrected—about 1 correction for every 5 pages of the book.

Some things were literally tinier than the head of a pin—a period missing from the end of a sentence. Other errors had to do with consistency (my name written without the hyphen in one place) or continuity (the date for starting the interviews with Herman being 1991 in the author’s notes and incorrectly as 1998 in the timeline at the end).

Because you might find it entertaining, not to mention instructional if you ever wondered how a published book makes it to the shelves of a bookstore with errors remaining, I offer you a short list of some of the things we discovered in the book’s proof copy and have corrected. Remember, this is after a year of methodical editing and rigorous proofing in manuscript and PDF formats.

•    Changed “material” to “materiel” as in “war materiel.

•    Well run changed to “well-run.”

•    Removed “Uncle Theo” and replaced with “Cousin Renata’s dear Morris” because the character of Uncle Theo had been previously removed from the manuscript.

•    Replaced “most of” with “half of” when referring to money spent to make it more accurate to 1939 prices.

•    Replaced “Aunt Lina” with “Cousin Renata” to avoid introducing a new character who does not appear anywhere else.

•    Changed the word “sloppy” to “slanting.” This reference was to a character’s penmanship which was previously described as “clear script” so later it shouldn’t suddenly be sloppy.

•    Changed “two” to too. As in “night marches too.”

•    Changed “chaffed” to “chafed.” As in “he chafed at the thought.”

•    Changed the word “nauseous” to “nauseated.”

•    Changed word “gravely” to “gravelly.”

•    The German term “u-boot” put into italics. Also at end of same line the word “Uterseeboot” changed to italics.

And in addition to these and other similar changes and corrections, there was the map where the important area of the Battle of the Bulge was lost deep in the central spine. After several readjustments and teamwork between the graphic artist and the book formatter/designer, we all are fairly confident the map will now display all the important bits.

Publishing my own book has been much like building my own house—and those of you who know me are aware I have done that a few times. For Immigrant Soldier, I have been the architect, the draftsperson, the engineer, and the general contractor. I have hired some sub-contractors, but the final responsibility is mine as the owner/builder (author/publisher). I hope my readers will enjoy the book as much as my friends enjoy coming to my home for a gathering or a home-cooked meal.


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