Eight ways you can correct book errors in print!

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We’ve just published a book (The Art of School Boarding) that probably reached the printer (McNaughton-Gunn) yesterday. I’ll double check tomorrow to be sure the text we sent and the artwork (from Pakistan) are there. It used to be that once a book reached the paper or hard back printer (here, to Saline, Michigan, from California) you had one chance to correct errors, and that was an expensive and major headache and delay. Other than that, you pretty much had to live with the goofs until the book came out again, if ever.

Admittedly, I started doing this (and using M-G, I think) in 1982, probably before you were born. Printing was slower, the proofs took their time to get back, shipping was a bit faster than mules, and since the type was still set then in either lead (at the very end of that process) or by an electronic teletypsetter (in 1400 dpi, for about $500 a book), if you found errors you had to get the bad parts reset, then repaste and remail to get back in line to reach the presses. (We didn’t have a computer then that set in proportional type; Selectric typewriters and funny type balls were it. But the next year the Eagle computer appeared that changed our world.) We could only make changes when we read the mailed proofs. That was it.

Now there are eight times or eight ways when you can save your publishing hide and the client’s love, none costs much, and they are as fast as a telephone line!

The first is exactly the way it was done before: read the proofs from the printer and send back the corrections, if any. No cut-and-paste. You correct the digital text and send it that day or the next, with explicit instructions where the small changes go. If the changes alter the pagination, you might have to send the whole book again. In fact, you’ll probably do that anyway. It’s not free but it’s not much of a time impediment either.

But now you also have two alternate paperback paths where you can quickly send corrected books to your first recipients while the long-run press gets the text or cover corrected. For example, if we are running a thousand books, or many thousands, from M-G and we find changes that will slow us down from promised deliveries, we can make text or art changes and post the corrected book at CreateSpace in a day, and after checking that proof a few days later, we will have ready-to-go paperbacks in maybe 10 days. Or we can do the same with LSI (Lightning Source) and get the books back even quicker. The prices won’t differ much either.

So that’s two ways to sidestep some major snafu or a misspelled title or an interview full of libel and still have the book at the convention or to an antsy buyer while the full-run errors are being corrected.

The other ways you can get corrected text or covers out in a few hours is to produce secondary ebook copies by open publishing, like Kindle, Nook, Smashwords. and Scribd–plus your own pdf ebook that you can sell directly. (More details from How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days!) Let’s say you release your book through Kindle only to find that an image is missing and you gave the book hero three different names! You just stop its sale (that’s immediate, I’m told), correct your Kindle draft, resubmit the new file, and get it back on sale (within an hour, usually). That’s another five ebook ways you could get modified text in print pronto.

So what? you ask. If you’re new to publishing, what’s new? It’s like writing a blog telling you that your iPad reads stock prices, tells time, takes photos, shows movies, and hums.

Two reasons to share this. One, you may not be aware of the many ways you can get past errors in new book copy or art. (An even better way is to get a dandy proofer and use her/him regularly.)

The other reason is that I am still almost speechless (the proper way to be if you’re a print publisher) by the print miracles that have taken place in the past decade or two, or however long it’s been since they unplugged the linotypes.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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