A lot has been happening in the publishing process for Her Own Vietnam. Here’s a quick update.
Rosalie, my publisher, sent me her marked-up version of the manuscript. I was not surprised to see that her edits strengthened the book. She noticed all the little writing tics that I’m blind to (like an over-reliance on rhetorical questions – who knew?) and suggested ways to alter them. I had a week to revise the manuscript and send it back to her.
Dingbats are real
Now Rosalie is working with the designer to design the interior of the book. Even as a published writer and avid reader, I had no idea how many decisions go into designing a book. They are considering elements such as the font for the text and chapter headings, how much space there should be between each line of text, and even what the “dingbats” should look like.
Dingbats are those little symbols that appear between sections of a book and signal, as our designer says, “significant breaks in time, space or consciousness.” They’re used primarily in novels, because most short stories are too concise to call for such breaks.
An invisible art
My theory is that book design – like movie music – is most successful when no one notices it. The design should subtly facilitate the reader’s experience with the book. If you notice the design as you’re reading, it’s too obtrusive.
Building the ARC
This month Rosalie will print Advanced Reader Copies, or ARCs, to send to review outlets. ARCS are semi-finished versions of the book; for example, they may not be proofread yet.
It generally takes several months for a review to be published. Nor is it certain that anyone ever will review my book; there are far more new books than reviewers or places that publish reviews.
Leaving my hands
The publication process is thrilling and nerve-wracking. There’s also an undertone of sadness, as my book slowly leaves me. The farther a manuscript proceeds through the production process, the more the writer’s role diminishes.
Already the novel is on its way to becoming almost as much Rosalie’s book as mine. Soon it might be yours. And at that point, as you hold a novel in your hands or e-reader, it’s all up to you. In the end it’s the reader, not the writer, who gives a book meaning.