The Truth About Publishing, Part 5.

Just one last thing to do to get Le Road Trip manuscript ready for publishing.

I have to out my original art work and original hand-set type into a format that can be turned into a book-shaped object.

Heres how I do it (on my dining room table):

Top left: binder containing original manuscript.

Bottom right: 11-inch by 14-inch sheets sent to me by my publisher Bloomsbury with position marks for each page, numbered from 1 – 215.

Center: paper cutter to trim these out-sized sheets down to a more manageable 11-inch by 11-inch square .

Bottom left: pile of already-trimmed sheets.


This is my light box, on which I have taped (Scotch tape is crucial to the whole process) a guide that represents the true dimensions of the final trim of the book, with lines and markings to show me where the center lines of the page are, both vertically and horizontally.

I have to place every single page of my manuscript onto this guide and position it so that all the art work and text is straight, aligned, and mounted with the proper margins for top and bottom AND with extra allowances for the “gutter”…that is, the edge that is going to be bound.

Yes, I have to do this manually for each and every  page, all 208 of them.

Got that?

For reasons that have to due with the fact that during this scrutiny I still find stuff that three editors missed and rectifying it takes research and materials i.e. glue, scissors, tape, white-out, mucho cursing. I also have to keep all these loose, mounted pages in order and, well, it gets messy.

I got the bright idea to tape pages onto the walls of my dining room so they could dry — remember, I am gluing the art work, and taping the text into place.

This is true: I sprained my left hand with repetitive motion somewhere around page 135 and had to tape up my favorite index and middle finger to prevent further injury which meant that I was, for all accounts and purposes, left totally right-handed … and still I had to keep turning out pages, and pages, and pages…

Today I am happy to announce that I have finished all the mounting, the last-minute editing, the last-last-minute patching up, and the last-last-last-minute re-writes/re-paints (yes, I did re-paint two whole pages)/re-edits.

From now, until pub date May 2012,  it’s Bloomsbury’s baby.


15 Comments, RSS

  1. Laura George June 27, 2011 @ 8:37 am

    Wow! What a great look inside the making of your book! I can relate to the repetitive stress injury as I have tendinitis in my elbow…so glad it didn’t damper your spirits and you were able to finish your pages despite that. I’m sooo looking forward to buying a copy for myself and tons for my French-lovin’ friends! xo

  2. Carol June 27, 2011 @ 9:52 am

    It is TERRIFIC to see you this morning!! I cannot wait to see the book – it is a BEAUTY!! And your next project – what about Scotland? New York City? Long Island? the secret life of cats? Spoiled Readers who love your work and want to see what is NEXT!! I would say that your reason for being here is to remind the rest of us that life – precious, everyday life which is happening RIGHT THIS MINUTE, even in a Tax Office – is to be noticed and treasured. And THAT is a pretty cotton picking good reason for your being with us!

  3. Janet June 27, 2011 @ 10:09 am

    Welcome back. Hand layouts — I remember those, with wax machines that laid a think layer of wax on the back of the page so you could just press it down. And light tables…I nearly put mine on Craig’s List a couple of weeks ago and in the end, decided I wasn’t quite ready to part with it. Not sure why. Probably the same reason I kept about 200 albums, next to the turntable that isn’t connected to a receiver and speakers so I could actually use it. Like all your fans, I am eager for Le Road Trip and whatever comes after.

  4. Rachel June 27, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    Ah, Janet, thank you for the reminder, I too remember waxed pages and hand layout. And stacking one finished section on a radiator and then a cool snap turning the heat on one morning in August and MELTing a bunch of hard work.

    Vivian, it is so very very good to have you back here amongst the interconnected. And in fine fettle as well. Mondays and Fridays have just not been worth attending without your morning encouragement. And now that we are officially into summer…not my favorite season and I need all of the help I can get.

    Hoping that the computer purchase is going ok and really looking forward to more of your commentary on THAT process.

    It is just so good to have you back home.

  5. Susie June 27, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

    Oh dear Vivian, I’m soooo glad you’re back in the land of the internet blogging stuff! We miss your life adventures and photos!

    Seeing your dining room reminds me of making quilts. Not as nerve wracking, but I used the dining room table and stuck quilt blocks all over the walls. Till the cats grabbed them down.

    Your book experience must be um, well, kind of awful, I still couldn’t help laughing at how you describe it all. Did you sleep? Still go to work?

    We’re looking forward to this volume, especially dear since we’ve seen how it’s been for you to ‘birth’ it.

    Welcome back.

    PS. My baby, Derek (29 yrs old) is just now making enough money to travel if he wants. And Seattle is his first choice. I’m afraid he won’t come back to New York!

  6. JOAN June 27, 2011 @ 5:07 pm

    OH, yes! She’s back among the cybernets, she’s back among the fans of Le Vivian.

    I had no idea that the book making process (your end) was SO complicated. I imagine that blue bits of words were flying around that dining room, landing in little ashen pieces on those Oh so killer pages…physically wounding the author. Plus haggling with the editors and having to re-do, undo, redo…Oye! I’d be a very nasty person by this stage of the game.

    In this day of electronic wizardry I’m amazed that you toil at this primitive way of compiling your books! But thank goodness you do. It makes me treasure my first book even more since that one was HAND WRITTEN! Sheesh, you must be a masochist. Once this baby is shipped off…or do you hand deliver it via horse and buggy? I wouldn’t be able to trust the Postal Service. We have a long history of love/hate going on here.

    You said you had tons of options regarding the computer…what did you do? Buy a new one or stick with the old one?

    I’m eager to hear what your next endeavor will be…

    Hope Top Cat bought you a case of very nice wine or champagne to celebrate the end of the manuscript.


  7. Helen McHargue June 27, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

    Fascinating. I had no idea of the work entailed with such a book.

    I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a while and our decks and foundation were moldy most of the year. Great rhododendrons and fuschias…a gardener’s dream, but wearing a rain coat for most of the year is a drag. Mold is also a drag.

    Even though your writing skills and imagination would be unchallenged by the subject matter, I vote for a cat book for the next project. Because I like cats and like your approach to them and because I think it would sell very well and who doesn’t like a pay check once in a while???

  8. Nadine June 27, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    Where are the cats? Don’t they help?

  9. Cheryl June 27, 2011 @ 10:38 pm

    reading this post is going to make your book SO MUCH more valuable to me – I will love it not just for the beauty I see and the words I read, but for what all you have done to create it! AND I will feel so much more connected with it because I’ve watched it be created. and there are no other books like yours!

  10. Cheryl June 27, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

    oh, and I forgot to say that having spent 4 weeks one summer in Portland and Seattle, then a few subsequent weeks in later years in both Seattle and Portland, I sure can feel your pain and longing to be back there.

  11. Pinky June 28, 2011 @ 6:09 am

    Seattle and Portland — better than Long Island? nooooo.

    Loved your descriptions of hard work you’ve done for the enjoyment of the rest of us. AND YOU GO TO WORK five days a week. I don’t know how you do it.

    That crack team of computer experts you showed us before your break are still working hard, too, I suppose. Cats are very hard workers,for sure.

    Glad you’re back.

  12. Deborah June 28, 2011 @ 8:03 am

    With all the profits from your forthcoming bestseller, you can buy a second home in the Pacific Northwest — a retreat center would be nice so we could all come visit.

    I hate that each page takes so much work for you, but I love that you use such everyday items/products in producing the great works. Happy for you that it’s finis and that you gave yourself a little vacation from le blog.

    I had a short stint working at an academic journal years ago using the wax layout method. It was kind of fun, but my stint was short because I wasn’t very good at it.

  13. Sally June 29, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

    Congratulations, Vivian, on the completion of your book!

    I’ve been away from blog-reading for a while, and thought I’d have a lot to read to catch up, but no. Good for me, but bad for you, you were otherwise engaged.

    I really appreciate learning what goes into the production of a book like yours, and am amazed that it still takes so much hand work. I am reminded that after I learned to card and spin wool for use in hand weaving, my husband suggested that the next time I wanted to buy a dress, I should just buy a sheep.

    You are not grinding your own ink, or making the paper, but you have certainly put more of yourself into this book than authors who merely spin out words. Really impressive.

    Best wishes for the resolution of your repetitive motion injury.


  14. Bobbi June 30, 2011 @ 3:46 pm

    Wow!! One must suffer for one’s art! Well done you. I’m impressed and I plan to use this as a reason to put off putting my own idea for a travel book, at least for this week. No, just kidding, really inspiring and thank so much for letting us all in on the process. I’m excited to get the new book that will sit next to When Wanderers here in my little house in France.

    Keep the faith…

  15. Tracey July 2, 2011 @ 11:09 am

    I’ve just had to restore my entire operating system, so I sympathize with the computer problems. I, too, have periods of missing Seattle.

    You might want to see if you can get Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene,Brooklyn

    to let you do a book talk on the Damn France book. Dekalb Ave in Fort Greene has great Seattle-like cafe named Tillies that you would like.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *