Making the most of it

As Eric posted on his blog, our latest book One Continuous Fight on the retreat from Gettysburg, is going to galley this week.  The galley is the initial published version of the book that is used to do final editing, and also the version that is being sent to various book clubs for consideration.  Our publisher Ted Savas sent PDF files of the galley to us to take a look over, before it goes into galley print.  Eric and I looked it over this weekend, and we picked up on various macro issues that are pretty common at this stage, as well as one major issue:  None of the 29 photos I took for the driving tours (pics of skirmish and battle areas, period homes, etc.) were able to be included in the tours due to space limitations.

We had planned for the photos to appear there (just like the tours in our book Plenty of Blame to Go Around) but there just wasn’t room.  Knowing that we all wanted to include them, Ted called me at home tonite.  Initially, our discussion revolved around the fact that it looked as though none of those tour photos would be able to be included – taking up nearly a half page each (a total of almost 15 pages) would add too much to the pagination.  And it would begin to push the book out of the planned price tag of $34.95.

So Ted and I began to look at what we could do with the manuscript.  As we talked, Ted pulled up the photos on his computer.  We had to add some 29 photos, but keep the page count the same.  Sort of like buying a new tube of toothpaste, and then trying to squeeze more toothpaste into the tube with your finger.  Not so easy.

Here’s where I have to hand it to Ted.  He’s a writer’s dream (as we call him in our Introduction to the book) – but not because of his distinguished receding hair line.  He knew we all wanted to get those photos in, and we only had so much paper to work with.  While we talked, we both had the manuscript up on our computers, each of us scrolling through it and looking for ideas.  After throwing around thoughts such as eliminating the 30-page Order of Battle (not something any of us wanted to do, and Ted refuses to put such a book out without an OOB) or reducing font size in some sections to where you’d need a magnifying glass… we came up with two ideas.

First, I had earlier suggested that our centered, one-column Order of Battle be changed to two columns to a page.  That would save nearly 15 pages.  That worked, and it still was easy to read.  Then we looked at the driving tours themselves, and we determined that having a line space between the list of GPS points at the end of each tour was unnecessary.  Ted took the spaces out, and several more pages were freed up.  Ted began working in the tour photos, and lo and behold, everything fit.  We got everything in, and didn’t add a single page.

After nearly an hour on the phone, we had it done.  I’m not sure how many other publishers would have been as easy to work with than Ted (and on a Sunday night, too) but I bet there can’t be very darn many of them.  With many publishers, they determine in large part what will be in the book, not the author.  That’s why authors can’t get all the maps they want, or all the illustrations, or appendices, and so on.  But Ted (an acclaimed author himself) recognizes what’s important to authors and works with them, like we did tonite, to get it all in.  The final page count is about 576 pages, and it will all be in there – all the maps, all the photos… everything.  And the book retails less than 35 bucks.  This would easily be a $100 book at your local neighborhood University press.

We can’t wait to see the galleys and then the final book.  And Ted Savas has our utmost respect for all he’s done to make sure that the book will be everything we wanted it to be.

Published in: on February 25, 2008 at 1:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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