Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Dear author, who should remain nameless

If you are writing a book for publication...

1. Can you please find out what happens when your wrods leave your tender care?

Your book is not set by tiny fairies waving wands. Not laid upon the page by naked elves yearning to exchange their midnight labour for cute green hats. Neither are your wrods magically hoof-printed by silver unicorns toiling by the glimmering light of a half-shadowed moon.

Your wrods pass through a setting and printing process which is scheduled. Those processes include drafts for you to check and correct, sometimes final proofs for you to make minor amendments, then a timetabled stage for sign off, and print.

When you are given final proofs of your book, do not say things like, I don't like Chapter 3. I'm rewriting this chapter now. I'll pass it to you next Wednesday. If you try that, I reserve the right to violate your copy. I may secretly and silently type eatshit in the second paragraph on Chapter 13.

Let's face it, for some of you, if I sneak that in, no-one would notice. Not even your mother. Even though she is getting a good discount rate on the 435 copies you are selling her direct for her knitting circle.

2. Be nice to your publisher, the printers, the proofreaders, the typesetters.

Do not think we have been sitting here with nothing to do until your book came along. You may like to imagine the day your wrods came to us was the day we knew our salvation. It wasn't. We can just make it look like that to flatter you. By this means we hope to be paid on time.

3. Please write well. We working ants, low down in the food chain, must read your wrods. Sometimes more than once.

Remember, we all like reading interesting wrods. So please do not write tedious sentences of 200 wrods without a comma. Do not use impenetrable language to show off to your mother. Try to write elegantly. Remember to close your (brackets, include full stops and generally finish your sentences in a timely manner. You wouldn't believe how many authors

Yours wearily,
A typesetter.

PS. Yes, typesetters still exist, spreading our skills across copy editing, book layout, print processes, graphic design, pre-print services. And type. We like to see nice type.


darth sardonic said...

damn grit, are you picking on me? lol. i love my typesetters. it's not their fault i hate my chapter three. i think it might be mine. damn. i enjoyed, as always.

Grit said...

hi darth! prose is no problem. prose can be a pleasure. 400 lines of transcript greek where the alignments on the translation must be 100% accurate or the author flies into a prima donna rage ... well, let's just say things don't always go smoothly round here.

and i'm sorry ladies, but the gender politics authors... don't get me started. a sodding comma is not a statement of the hegemonic male social hierarchy, right? it's a sodding comma.