So the deadline of deadlines has come and gone. Mayday for me was Friday 24th and the day when my ms (manuscript) finally went into production. Was it a slight anticlimax? Well, the champagne’s still in the fridge and I can’t quite believe that it’s all over…for now.
Having sourced an excellent cartographer (Mary Spence MBE) from a wonderful Map Room contact at the British Library, I now have maps of Poland. The jacket image, which I trekked to a village in the middle of nowhere in Poland, to photograph, will be the icing on the cake for me and is the last piece in the puzzle to be completed. Imagine my joy, everything sent, publisher happy, when I discovered they want a permission form for the image. It’s one of those moments when you thank God, literally, for the hyper-well organised Roman Catholic Church and the Internet. Letter to said Church in the middle of nowhere, flying par avion as soon as I get to a Post Office.
Of course sending off the ms is only the beginning of the end. A few weeks’ respite are due while the production team gets its hands on the rough elements and crafts them into a first physical draft of a book. The magical part is seeing my text appear on page with page markings and numbers, unbound yet somehow imbued with the promise of a book to come. That’s the point at which you have two or three weeks to turn around the proof-reading of the whole 400-odd pages, you revisit the footnotes you’ve read hundreds of times and you become proficient in the intricacies of proper proof-reading marks.
Did I mention the index? Probably not, as this is the most contentious aspect of all. The deranged fortnight of no sleep and proof-reading marks appearing before your eyes, when you do sleep, is as nothing compared with the INDEX. Be afraid, be very afraid. Or pay around £500 not to be afraid. Sadly, this is no guarantee of happiness. £500, comparatively, is not much to pay to avoid spending at least a week of your life on an index, tearing out your hair and cursing. Suffice it to say I know someone who paid said monies, deducted from the royalties, and then spent the week re-doing the index anyway. Luckily this story ends happily, one of my best friends is an indexer – honest!