Hello, friends. I am here today to sing of unsung heroes.
We’re back in Kingston, and I’m applying myself to a final proofread of Rivals in the City. I have an ARC in hand! (The cover is gorgeous. I say that not to taunt, but to tantalize: the Booksmugglers and I are planning a big cover reveal in September, with an ARC giveaway. Stay tuned for details!)
The terrible thing about having drafted, polished, repeatedly edited, and proofread a book is that it’s impossible to read it anew. Authors are the worst possible proofreaders of their own work because every phrase follows one of two scenarios:
1. We’re perplexed by the phrase because we’re haunted by several alternative versions, OR
2. We struggle actually to process what’s on the page, because we think we already know how it goes.
This kind of readerly short-circuit means that we’re well-intentioned but patchy proofreaders, at best.
You want proof? Today, I will confess to you the clunkiest sentence my terrific editor at Candlewick Press, novelist Deborah Noyes, turned up last week. Remember, this sentence has passed before many pairs of eyes, and is actually published in the UK edition. Oh, the shame! But here goes:
“Even if she were actually here now, in town, we’d never find each another unless we actually ran into one another in the street.”
As Deb politely points out, “‘one another’ is used for more than two, so technically we should change this to “each other,” which introduces a rep[etition]“. She also observes that we already have a repetition of the word “actually”. Do you see what I mean? I really should have noticed these problems. Yet I didn’t. Repeatedly.
Happily, a Candlewick proofreader (a person whose name I don’t know, but who has clearly worked with such care on this book) suggested an alternative: “unless we actually collided in the street.” So here’s the new version of the sentence above:
“Even if she were here now, in town, we’d never find each other unless we actually collided in the street.”
It’s shorter. Cleaner. SO MUCH BETTER. And I had nothing to do with it.
But oh, I am grateful. It is a terrific privilege to work with such talented and experienced readers, and to benefit from their care. Thank you, proofreaders of the world! And of Candlewick Press, in particular.