I RECENTLY EXPERIENCED a series of very sweet ‘just desserts’ while working on the final stages of releasing my first novel, Tank Water.
Proofreading is an art. It’s best done as part of a team, and a team is what I was treated to with the polishing of Tank Water, recruited by Anna Solding of MidnightSun Publishing .
The interior of our book was formatted by Zena Shapter. Like the cover designer Kim Lock, Zena is an author in her own right. So is MidnightSun’s editor Anna Solding. There is something rather wonderful about being part of a team of writers who know how to nurture a new book into life.
When I independently published my other books in 2015, I had plenty of assistance for the proofreading stage. Other writers, mainly, but I also learned to rely on my first readers. When you don’t need to print hundreds of copies due to the luxury of Print On Demand (POD) services, you can afford to capitalise on the first eyes that experience a limited run of your paperbacks.
Confronted with a series of gradually improving proofs of Tank Water to check over, I did what I always do when it comes to checking my own work: I read the whole thing a few times. No-one will ever read Tank Water more than me, which is as it should be. Over the years since the full manuscript was completed, I’ve consumed the whole thing so many times I have forgotten the number.
It had been around a year since I’d experienced my coming-of-age Outback Noir tale, a hiatus I took from the work in order to make the proofreading all the sweeter.
Finally, I did what I advise all authors to do at this stage: put the dogs out, turn the phone off, shut down social media, make copious cups of tea and read my work as though it’s the last time I’ll ever do so.
How thrilling it was to see that Zena chose two of my favourite fonts: Garamond for the body copy, and Bradley Hand for the chapter headings.
Garamond is one of those classic serif typefaces borne of the invention of the printing press, more ‘open’ and rounded than Times and designed to suggest hand-written penmanship.
Bradley Hand emerged in the mid 1990s and is a font I have often chosen for publishing projects of my own. In Tank Water, it’s used to suggest protagonists James’s handwriting, since he’s a journalist attached to his notebook and unable to switch off from the task of recording his thoughts and reactions.
Seeing my chapters and the narrative arc that binds them together so beautifully laid out took my breath away. It feel surreal. Suddenly, internal processes that have taken a lifetime are set to burst into the consciousness of many other people.
I also came face-to-face with exactly what I’d created: a story that takes place in two time zones, with multiple inner thoughts from different characters. These required differentiation in the formatting, and Zena worked extremely quickly, efficiently and creatively to format these ideas on the page.
It rained all week, and I spent the whole time inside my very own tale.
The husband test
Uncorrected proofs of Tank Water arrived by post soon after. In three dimensions, the publication has a wonderful, moody style to it which I immediately fell in love with. There’s plenty of Outback Noir out there right now, and we’re hitting a phase of this genre that deals reaches further into diverse territory than ever.
I always wanted the novel to be the type of book I would be drawn to on the shelf of a bookshop, to appeal to me visually. Having a stack of fully-fledged proofs in the house inspired by husband Richard to pick up a copy and begin reading; while I had the luxury of doing my final proofread with a paperback version to rest in my hand, not a computer screen.
All the hard work has paid off. Thanks to a team that includes professional proofreaders (who picked up several typos ans literals), Richard (who picked up two) and a good friend Jo (who picked up one that no-one else noticed), plenty of eyes have been on this publication, and it’s gone to press.
Richard’s biased, of course, but he couldn’t put Tank Water down!
Please preorder yours today, it’ll be out on October 1.