Page proofs

Let’s hear it for the publishers Pen & Sword (Military)!

On the 23rd December a downloadable pdf of the 1st proofs of Surviving the Death Railway: A POW’s Memoirs and Letters from Home dropped into my inbox and on the 24th a print-out arrived in the post. This has meant that during the post-Christmas lull I have been able to settle to the task of checking them. DSCN8754 The rather altar-like appearance of my workstation is because I have decamped to the post-Christmas dining room table. The numerous Post-Its don’t represent errors, but queries to myself… there do seem to be rather a lot… hmm. The redacted text is exactly that – a photo of a letter with a couple of lines obliterated by the censor.

Previously, I had a nightmare time with a small Indy publisher (novel one) and two arduous self-publishing experiences (novels two & three). This is my first experience of (niche) mainstream publishing and I’m impressed. Pen & Sword asked for specific reductions, but no radical changes, to the text; they changed the title, but I was encouraged to offer suggestions (not used, but I had my say and a veto); they consulted me about content for biogs and blurbs; they allowed me to influence the cover – their covers are not my kind of artwork, but they listened and had three goes; they showed me samples of text formatting before they went too far and changed the appearance of elements that worried me.

Basically, I have been incorporated into the decision process at each turn and problems have been quickly and straightforwardly sorted. The text – a really tricky combination of letters, memoirs, editorial content and 90 odd in-text illustrations, looks infinitely better that I had dreamt it could. So far so good.

Today we went on a kindling collecting walk across fields to a nearby small village. The sun shone, the air was warm and scraps of dead wood abounded. I have always been curious about this ruin in a field in the middle of the small village. I doubt it was a privy as there is too much window and there are no houses (now) nearby. Any ideas?DSCN8766 DSCN8767

Anyone know what this fungus is? (Andrew can you help?) The nearest on the internet is Black Hoof Fungus, but that doesn’t look right to me. Is it something simple and obvious that has just aged into black?DSCN8763 DSCN8773Apologies for the photographer shadow!

Good writing, publishing and walking everyone!

45 thoughts on “Page proofs

  1. First, congratulations on your book, Hilary. I know that it has been a long, dear, and arduous project. Second, did you get a look inside of the building? That might rule out privy. 🙂 I am thinking pump house. And finally I went scrambling looking for shelf fungus but couldn’t find any that resembled yours. Happy New Year. –Curt

    • Thanks. Reading the proofs is unsettling as the book feels as though it has a very slow start. It is tricky with so many ‘voices’. No, I have never climbed the fence and looked into the building. I must next time! I think it would have to be a very small pump. I am very ignorant about fungi, so at least you have given me a category by calling it a shelf fungus. Thanks.

  2. I follow all your publishing adventures with great interest. I had to ask Helvi what an Indy publisher is. Just shows I have a lot to catch up with.. I don’t know the fungus but I would not eat it. Could the structure be a shepherder’s hut?

    • In my case the Indy was a two man firm and one of them jumped ship half way through the process. I was given 48 hours sight of the manuscript before printing and it was FULL of errors. It could be a shepherder’s hut, but it’s incredibly small.

  3. I am in awe! I too will buy a copy, probably 2 as I have a pal who would be very interested to read it. He is writing his own book on a related theme. I will try to check the fungus tomorrow. As for the building, well I am stumped. Thinking cap on.

    • Thank you, I hope it comes up to scratch. Compiling a book of non-fiction from multiple sources is new territory for me. Reading the proofs has given some jitters, it is so very different from a novel. The start feels slow and complex… however there is no going back now!

  4. Pen and Sword sound like an admirably professional outfit, I’m glad you’re having such a positive experience with them. I imagine the sort of editing you’re doing must feel like quite a responsibility but I’m sure you’ll do an excellent job. Not that I’ve ever been in a similar position myself, but from what I’ve read, it seems that compromise (on things such as cover design, fonts, layout, etc.) is an unavoidable part of the whole process. I should think there are plenty of publishers who would go ahead with those decisions without consulting the author/editor, or at least not listening to their views.

    Re: the building(s), the roofed bit seems more recently constructed, doesn’t it? There also seems to be some metalwork attached to the side which makes me think of pipes and I wonder if there is some plumbing involved. Most mysterious. I don’t know what that fungus is but I hope it’s not giving the tree any trouble.

    • Yes, it’s the nitty-gritty editing now (like noticing a father and son in the family tree with the same year of death… should have been ten years difference, and the camp names in Thailand are a nightmare). Yes, P & S have been very open and accommodating, but clear about what they planned.
      Yes, there do seem to be two phases of building. Next time we walk that way I will climb the fence for a closer look. Curt suggested a pump house and Gerard a shepherd’s hut. I’d better find the local historian.

  5. Happy New Year. It sounds like a good experience overall with your new book. The tiny building reminds me of some cabins shepherds have in the part of Spain where my Dad comes from and where they used to stay or leave their things, but usually are more rustic and indeed the two bits of the building seem different… No idea about the fungus…

    • Yes, I’m know of how lucky I’ve been with the book. You may be right about the shepherd’s cabin, but as you say, you’s expect it to be more rustic, it is very close to the middle of this tiny village, but every shepherd needs somewhere for their tools or just to get out of the rain.

  6. My Grandad would love this book I’m sure and his birthdays late March so I hope it’s out in time. Driving home shortly been waiting for the rain to ease off a bit, wishing you and all your family a fantastic 2016 😊

  7. Hi! I’ve just finished Border Line, and I’m glad you mentioned it, in a comment. How did you choose that topic? It strikes me that the only reason I might consider taking my own life is it I knew I was headed for a long, debilitating illness (such as Huntington’s), and wanted to spare my children the burden of the care of the old gal!

    Good luck with the editing.

    • Thank you so much for buying and reading Border Line. Nothing makes an author happier. I was curious about how people treat others who are guilty of hurting other other people, and how people dealt with their owen perceived guilt. This interest crossed with a brief stay in Ljubljana (and a longer one in Venice), including a crazy day in a taxi with three other people speaking rather too many languages (except the French lady who spoke just the one). The third strand was listening to my theatre director daughter talk about actor’s exercises. All of this meant that when I had written a draft, I needed to go on a ten-day research trip to Slovenia, of course.

  8. A belated happy new year, Hilary, and huge congratulations on the progress of your new book. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on the pluses and minuses of all your different publishing experiences when you’re done!

  9. I, for one, am awaiting your final published works on this historic look into the unparalleled sacrifices of that great generation. Having but TRIED to write a story, I applaud you on your determination and ability to convey his story. I wish you every success.

    • Oh, Koji, I hope it lives up to expectations. I am at that stage where all I can see is the mistakes and the things I failed to put in there. I think you did write a story, with your pilgrimage and blogs about your uncle’s war.

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