Phew. Or actually … actually yes, I got it right the first time, phew. Just finished the final FINAL final proof of Miya Black III. I had a feeling from the start that it was going to be the last one, and I actually enjoyed this read-through quite a bit–without as many things to tidy up or errors to mark I could concentrate more on the story and the pacing, and generally I came out of it feeling pretty positive about the whole thing. I think for this particular book I did around five editing runs and five proofing runs, mostly because I wrote it so long ago. I can remember working on the first draft while my wife was in labour with our first daughter, over two years ago now. (Of course I didn’t just write all the way through, but if you’ve ever attended a birth you know there’s quite a lot of sitting around with nothing much happening in between the exciting bits. Seriously, those things go on for hours.) Proofing, for me at least, is like cleaning a room. You scrub away at a bit of muck on the floor and get it looking good, but that makes everything around it look shabby in comparison, so you work to clean the rest of the floor but then the curtains look all threadbare and dusty–it’s a gradual process, and for me it generally requires at least three passes before I’m happy.
Anyway, it’s done now! Proofed, formatted, compiled, all bundled up snug and warm in a lovely little mobi file. I’ll just put it aside overnight then look at it again in the morning–a quick flick-through on the ol’ Kindle just to make sure the ncx index thing is doing what it should and the navigation is working properly and so forth, and then I get to hit the big shiny ‘publish’ button. (It’s not actually big or shiny, but it still makes my heart beat faster and my mouth go dry when it comes time to actually hit it.) From my experience publishing other books I’ve learnt that it’s best just to get it over with and walk away–focus on something else. Once you’ve judged something ready it does no good to dwell, far better to publish-and-forget and move on. In this case to the next in the series, Miya Black IV! It’s been far too long since I even looked at this one, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being. I had to make some tough decisions in IV, but on previous read-throughs I always felt “Yes, that was the best call”. Hopefully I’ll feel the same way this time. Actually, I’m kind of excited to read it again.
Also, funnily enough, getting back into the themes of Miya Black III again turned out to be kind of inspiring, in a way–one of the underlying themes of Miya Black is the difference between what’s right and what’s easy. Well, I really didn’t want to do this last proof, I thought the penultimate proof was going to be the final one and when it turned out it wasn’t I considered just saying “Sod it” and publishing it as it was. That would’ve been the ‘easy’ option, but in the end I went with what I knew was right–I knew it needed another proof, and as it turned out I found a couple of errors, nothing major but they would’ve hurt had I published with them still present. This final FINAL final proofed version is publishable, there might be a few errors still hiding in there but I only found three on this last pass which is well within my standards of acceptable quality (I operate under the assumption that for every error I find there was one I missed; three errors in 130,000 words is, I think, acceptable).
Anyway, enough faffing around. Time for a small reward; I’m off to play a little From Dust.