Paranoid and complicated

By Evangeline Jennings

Paranoia. When you are a teeny-tiny start-up indie press – of sorts – with no resources at all, it can be both a godsend or a curse. Here’s why.

We are publishing a book called CARS & GIRLS. It features four different writers. Two of them are working as editors. I’m one, and I also hold what you might call producer level responsibility. So beyond the normal rounds of beta-reading and revising, we’ve been through – I kid you not – five formal iterations of editing and three of proof-reading. We have an ebook format that EVERYONE has signed off on and a PDF ready for uploading to CreateSpace, ditto. So we’re good to go, right?

Well, no.

Because I’m paranoid, I decided I needed to do two more checks. Read the entire ebook again and then print out the PDF and read that too. This is 68,000 words, by the way.

This is the godsend bit.

I was reading a story called 500 on my Kindle in bed this morning and something seemed badly wrong. At the end of chapter four, after some mildly kinky sex, there is a shooting in a forest. Only on my Kindle, chapter five kicks off halfway through that forest scene. And although it actually reads very well if you didn’t know, I do know. A small section has disappeared and several important plot points have gone missing.

So I backtrack through my version control and I’m amazed to discover that the damage was done three iterations ago. AND NOBODY NOTICED.

The lost six hundred words are back in now, of course. And I’m going to use the lesson learned to improve our editing and production processes for the future. But. Dude. What the fucking fuckety fuck?

The plan now is to continue the final read with extreme care and possibly prejudice even if it means delaying the release date by a couple of weeks. I should have known better than to schedule CARS & GIRLS for April 1st.

Here is the curse. The sting in the tail.

Because I’m paranoid, every time I read this book I find places where I think we could have done a little better. Take out that word. Change that one. Do we really need that comma? If I wasn’t already, my compulsion to fine tune would drive me insane. But I can’t shake this fear that The Reader will immediately spot that one wrong word and ignore the sixty thousand or so good ones.

It would have been easy to forgo this final read through – and better for my nerves – but I’m glad I didn’t because we’ve just avoided a serious disaster. Now all I have to do is learn to let go.

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2 thoughts on “Paranoid and complicated

  1. I understand exactly what you mean. Everytime I press the publish button on Kindle I have to run away and hide and then I can’t bear to read any of my things because I always, always find something to change. Well done though on finding the glitch. A while ago I was reading something by a very well known author. The main thrust of the plot was the discovery of torso and one chapter in they estimated the victims height by measuring his Femur. When I wrote to the author (cheeky thing that I am) he said that it happened because they had mixed up two versions so I don’t know if you can ever be totally confident. Sorry if this adds to the paranoia 🙂

    1. I don’t think you could add to my paranoia 🙂

      I just wish I understood how that “glitch” happened. It had to have been when copying and pasting between the two formats but … well, I don’t know.

      I do like that story about the femur. Apparently there’s an Alistair Maclean where a Formula One car is given headlights – something they don’t and didn’t have.

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