Recently I was asked by a publisher to contribute to one of his projects by reviewing the manuscript of a book to be published in 2009. I consider it an honor to be asked, and I’m finding the experience fascinating. While I’ve reviewed friends’ manuscripts before, as the publisher describes it, I am now learning “how sausage is made”, the book publishing process from the inside. The manuscript pages are sent to me as Word documents and I’m supposed to “mark them up”. Nowadays that means using a word processing feature that allows the reader to quickly identify the changes. But I’m old fashioned: I actually print out the pages and use something called a “red pen” to make corrections or suggestions or ask questions. My intention is to compose another Word document with my suggested changes in a clear narrative. I feel uncomfortable actually changing someone else’s text, as I think it imposes my voice over the author’s and I don’t want to do that. One of the challenges is to make my suggestions in such a way that the author won’t feel defensive about his work. Not because I’m worried about offending him, but because I want him to take my suggestions! In the meantime, the author, publisher and I have been exchanging emails and clearing some things up as we go. Unfortunately, I’ve been busy with work and teaching and my son’s flag football, so while I’ve finished my initial pass on the part of the manuscript I’ve been sent, I haven’t had time to organize my thoughts on paper.
This is fun!