When I get ready to deliver (sounds like a baby, right?) I tell my editor in advance. I try to give her a couple of weeks notice, because she’s busy and I don’t want to startle her with a 385 page book on a random Tuesday. So a couple of weeks ago, I gave my editor a delivery date. April 26.
Novels are big. There’s no way around it. Delivering a novel is not like showing someone your 14 line love poem. Reading a novel requires setting aside some time. In fact, I’m setting aside a whole week to read my own book, before delivering. It will take me the week to read it carefully–and I already know what happens.
As I read, I try to catch little glitches, cut extra words, and improve sentences where ever I can. For this reason I always do my final read through on paper. I believe you can see infelicities on paper that you’d miss on the screen. Reading on paper is particularly good for continuity. Screen-pages scroll one to the next in a confusing loop. On paper, you stop and say–wait a second–let me look again at the shape of this chapter, or the strength of this transition. You can also catch blank pages, widows, or orphan text in a way you can’t on screen.
On paper I can mark up my text in pen. I print single sided, in case I need to add paragraphs on the back of a page. I write in the margins and generally get messy in a way I can’t on screen. Track changes just can’t capture this kind of hand written work. Maybe someday the technology will get there, but right now, track changes are clunky. They are simply typed text in a different color awkwardly spliced.
My draft is in good shape now. I’m not adding new chapters at this point, or moving sections around. In the past months, I’ve read the book twice for pacing and continuity. My goal this week is to read and mark and input corrections at a medium pace–about 100 pages a day. On Friday I’ll email the whole thing to my editor on my self-imposed deadline. I’m excited!