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  • Stan Sudan, Author of Sisters of Light

Galley Proofs - Christmas in July

Six chapters finished on final line proof for the print edition. Shooting for an August 1 print release. Won't that be grand! I've never been so excited about doing edits before, but reading your own real book for the first time is...well, it's just darn cool.

From the smell of the fresh ink and paper, to seeing and feeling both the cover and the weight of the book as you hold it in the air before doing a mini pagan dance to the muses who gave birth to it, there is no validation quite like it. Yes. It feels good. Especially after waiting for so long to finally be able to carry your new baby to bed and tuck it under your pillow.

I'm so glad to have it despite the current trend toward eBooks. One of my marketing advisors suggested that having a print book is a luxury these days, with 99.5% of potential sales of any book being an e-version. It's probably true. But to a first-time author that's like saying you can't have Santa Clause deliver a present under the Christmas tree.

With the advent of electronic media, we are completely separated from the viscerality of writing. After years of feeling the keyboard under my fingers, here it is. Finally. Physical proof of what I've written.

No longer do we pen novels first in cursive or handwritten print; no longer do we need to insert pages into a dogeared manuscript that is full of corrections and manual edits. Perhaps it's because of my age--remembering what it was like to crank out stories on a portable Olympic typewriter and then having to retype, and retype, just to get a finished product--that I have such an enormous reaction to physically scouring each word to see if it is appropriately placed in the new book that lies in front of me, pencil in hand, post-it tags perched like sentries waiting to be called to action. Perhaps it happens to every author.

My social media friends do their own celebratory dance, so I think it's probably a universal feeling.

The proofing is arduous...but I love it. I get lost over and over in the story--especially when I slip back into the electronic domain and run a global edit, word by word, on a particularly nuanced change that needs to be verified throughout the entire book.

I did that last night. Then I fell into the plot and started reading. If the writing is any good, I think that's probably a hurdle every author faces. I didn't mind. There's so much that jumps off the pages of a book that doesn't meet a reader quite the same as a computer screen. But it was two hours of non-proofing time that was lost after getting sucked into a particularly poignant part of the book that was fifteen chapters farther down the editing road than I wanted to be.

What that experience hammered home for me was why I write. Perhaps a reader will also have that reaction when they reach that point in the story. I'm hopeful that they will. That, for me, will be the ultimate validation after years of effort. But I won't truly know that unless I'm there to offer them a box of Kleenex and give them a hug of appreciation for meeting me in that land the muses so persuasively painted.

Off to proof-land. Or is it the North Pole...

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