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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XXXIV The Reading of Proofs

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XXXIV The Reading of Proofs

BOOK publishers invariably furnish the author with galley proofs of the manuscript, usually a half dozen or more proofs at a time, Occasionally, however, the entire book is set, and the author receives the proof of the whole of it, with the exception of the index, if there be one.

Galley proofs are long strips of paper, two or three feet in length, the type matter appearing in the center, with wide margins. These proofs represent the width of the page, but not the length.

The author is supposed to read these proofs carefully and to make corrections upon the margin.

Because it is much easier to correct a proof in galley, than it is after the type is paged up, the author should read the galley proofs with the utmost care and attempt to make all of his corrections upon these proofs. After the type is put into pages, it is both difficult and expensive to make more than minor corrections.

The galley proof can be of any length, and words or lines can be added or omitted, when to do so in the page proof might require the transposition of several lines of type through several pages.

Most book publishers allow the author to make corrections up to not exceeding twenty-five dollars worth, or ten per cent of the cost of setting the type in the first place. For example, if it costs, say, three hundred dollars, to set the type for a book, the author may be allowed, for corrections, ten per cent of three hundred dollars, or thirty dollars. If his corrections exceed that amount, he is charged the additional cost of making them.

Many an author, through carelessness, has been obliged to pay for author's corrections more than the entire cost of the first setting of the book. Recently a friend of mine, an inexperienced author, although one of the broadest education, was obliged to pay nearly double the cost of the original setting for the changes and corrections he made on both galley and page proofs.

If the manuscript is typewritten, and carefully read, both by the author and by the one to whom he has submitted it, the author's corrections are not likely to exceed the amount allowed by the publisher.

After the galley proofs have been corrected, the type matter is paged up, with running headings. For example, if the book bears a title of "John Smith, Merchant," the proofs of even pages will have at the top the line, " John Smith, Merchant," with the page number at the left of it. The right-hand pages will carry either a repetition of the title of the book or the subject-matter of the chapter, followed by a page number. The page number may be placed at the bottom of the page. Occasionally a book is published without running headings.

The publisher usually sends the page proofs to the author. These should be read with great care, and the author should remember that corrections made on page proofs, for the reason which I have already stated, are both difficult and expensive to make.

If the author desires to change a word or sentence in the page proofs he may usually, if he be careful, make changes which will not require the running over of a line or lines into the following page or pages.

Practically all books are electrotyped, and electrotype-proofs may be sent to the author for final revision. Minor corrections can be made upon them, but at large expense.

The author's manuscript should be as near correct as possibility admits, particularly if it is to be set on the linotype, which machine casts full lines, making corrections more difficult to handle than when the composition is done by hand or on a typesetting machine. Many books are set on the linotype, because it costs less, and the effect on the printed page is practically the same, unless coated or hard paper is used.

The author is semi-responsible for spelling, punctuation, and paragraphing, but misspelled words, unless of a technical character, will undoubtedly be corrected in the editorial department or by the compositor, and the making of these corrections not charged to the author.

Each publisher, as a rule, has his own style of spelling words which admit of more than one spelling, of capitalization, paragraphing, and punctuation, and he is likely to follow it, irrespective of the manuscript, unless the work be purely technical.

Some publishers punctuate very freely, others do it sparingly. One publisher prefers many paragraphs, while another uses a less number. As there is no standard for punctuation or paragraphing, except that all styles follow a general rule, the author should not object to the styles maintained by his publisher.

Every literary writer should understand the rudiments, at least, of proof-reading, so as to be able to correct his proof.

The following pages present all of the proofreading marks in common use. Although these marks vary slightly, all of those given will be readily understood by every compositor, printer, editor, and publisher.

The marks should be written in either of the margins, and not between the lines of type. If a considerable amount of matter is to be added, it is better not to write it upon the margin, but to cut the proof in two, the addition to be written upon a piece of paper and pasted between the two ends of the severed proof.