There is a time to begin finishing every book. Sometimes it feels as though that phase may never come. But it does. And there is work to be done. Careful, meticulous, try-not-to-miss-any-detail kind of work. That is what I am doing now for my forthcoming COURAGE HAS NO COLOR. The process for a nonfiction book includes a lot of details that may surprise some people. Here are some of the things I do as the author to tie up any loose ends as we head into this final phase:
Make sure I have ordered every photo at a high-enough resolution to reproduce well in the book (tricky with archival WWII photos, and I do this with the help of the brill designer on the book).
Write the photo credits, making sure to check them against the most final layouts so all page references are credit, and cross-reference them against my photo source charts that I create.
Tally up my photo costs and make sure I haven’t gone over budget. And if I have, come up with a solution as to how to deal with this issue.
Compile all the source notes for any quote in the book. (This is a biggie—I think the source notes in Courage are ten manuscript pages, single spaced!)
Make sure that the Bibliography I created while writing the book is complete and up-to-date (i.e. I haven’t forgotten to include any books or articles or documentaries I may have used in the last few months).
Check all the captions I have written against the information in the text to make sure I haven’t inadvertently contradicted myself with any facts; in other words, check and re-check my research. Do this process again, checking any official information I may or may not have received with each photo. Note: sometimes my research turns up errors in official information and I get to correct it--very satisfying!
Re-read the acknowledgments and make sure I haven’t left any out. These omissions generally fall into two categories—people who have contributed something in the last stretch of the process so it’s new information and people who deserve such a big thank-you I assumed they were already in there!
Go over the layout issues with my editor and designer for tweaking of things like half and full title page, dedication, headers or footers, and any back matter issues that arise.
And last but not least—read through the text again in hopes of catching a glaring typo that has been hiding in plain sight this whole time! (Note: I just found one of those, so this is a really important step.)
All of these things actually come before I will have a chance to carefully read the final layouts—these steps are to ensure that everything MAKES it into the final layouts! There is a certain satisfaction that comes from tying up all the loose ends and seeing a manuscript transform into a BOOK.