things you don’t think about

One of the changes I’ve noticed with Warner turning into Orbit is that now my CEM and page proofs come with cover sheets that explain those parts of the process in more detail. (Page proofs arrived yesterday.) I always knew changes at this stage were expensive, and that if I made too many I’d have to pay for them myself, but this time around I’ve got concrete info: the allowance for author changes is generally somewhere between $200 and $800 dollars, depending on the book, and changes cost about $1.50 a line.

Which led to me noticing something. Thanks to the way I chose to structure it, MNC has a grand total of (I think) seven hard page breaks in the text. Things like the act openings with their epigraphs get their own pages, but the narrative itself leaves white space at the end of a page only seven times — at the end of each act, plus the prologue and epilogue.

Why does this matter? Because changing at the page-proof stage has a ripple effect. If the alteration I’d like to make in the first para of the prologue shortens it by one line, that will pull a line from page 2 onto page 1, and so on back until you hit a hard page break.

Of which there are only seven in the entire book.

There are many reasons to ponder things like chapter structure — how many, how long, etc — but this is a new one by me. Building the book this way means I have to be even more economical with my page-proof-stage changes, or next thing I know they’ll have to reset the entirety of Act Four. So I’m very glad I made myself read the entire CEM out loud, to catch as many verbal infelicities as possible; now is not the time to fix broken sentences. But even so, I find myself wanting to delete two words from the first paragraph, and I have to be really careful about that.

Note to self: chapter breaks are your friend.

0 Responses to “things you don’t think about”

  1. jimhines

    That’s good to know… I usually end up sending a lot of corrections back, in part because my copy editor and I differ about comma usage. But I also try to tweak any word or line changes so that the paragraph itself remains the same length, trying to avoid that ripple effect.

    But $1.50 per line could add up awfully quickly.

    Personally, I’d like some sort of incentive if we come in under-budget. If I can get the manuscript polished the first time, give me the $100 that’s left over. It might inspire better manuscripts from the authors 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      I finish all my fights with the copy-editor at the CEM stage. (Or try to.) It helps that when I e-mailed the CE director asking about their capitalization policy, she told me I could capitalize however the heck I pleased, style guide be damned. So I just made up a list of changes to be universally stetted.

      But yes, I wouldn’t object to a “clean MS bonus” being written somewhere into my contract. ^_^

  2. tessagratton

    That is fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

    • Marie Brennan

      You’re welcome. It’s the kind of random behind-the-scenes detail that you generally don’t hear about before it becomes an issue for you.

  3. d_c_m

    Note to self: chapter breaks are your friend.
    Wow. Good to know. Thanks for the share.

    And if figured Bellatrix was a good icon for a MNC post. 🙂

  4. ninja_turbo

    Note to self: chapter breaks are your friend.

    I’ll consider myself lucky that Shield and Crocus has short chapters, then.

    Thanks for the peek behind the scenes.

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