The (What's Another Word for 'Refinement'?) Phase

I've done signifigant revisions to my novel a half-dozen times, and each time I performed four to six editing sweeps. I've hired two different editors, one to provide high-level feedback, and the other to copy edit it. I received the copy-edit changes last week and, excitedly, incorporated all of her changes in two long editing sessions (the most common issues were comma and semicolon misuse, and a couple of grammar rules I'd completely forgotten about—like laying vs lying).

It was time to create a proof, an actual paperback version of my book. I went to work on formatting for print, and Jody went to work drafting the first option for a cover. Again, two or three long working session later we'd placed our order for proof copies.

They arrived on Thursday (today's print on demand technology is incredible) and look like this.

Now, I should tell you. That's a draft cover and even the title may change. I at first wasn't going to share this picture because of that, but hey—there are so few of you reading this site that the least I can do is give you some insider information. We're hoping to draft a few more cover ideas and run a poll to get your feedback on which one is best (although I really like this one—Lakewater Design, Jody's graphic design shop, is awesome).

Anyway. We got the proofs, which was really exciting, and now starts the process of reading the proof and marking any issues. In fantasyland this is when I'd only be finding formatting problems, right? So I sit down with my red pen, take another moment to admire the look and feel of my manuscript in the form of an actual book, and turn to the first chapter. I didn't even make it past the first page.

I don't remember changing that sentence in a very long time, which means I've read it dozens of times and never noticed the double-probably. Or maybe it just never bothered me before, but it bothered the hell out of me now. I kept on reading, and made similar marks on every two out of three pages.

I'd have been depressed but in truth, I knew this would happen. When I went through this step with Escape from Devil's Canyon, a book that was 'just for fun', I found stuff I didn't like every single time I read through it (including after it was finally published).

And so it goes. Once it's in book form, and you're really getting ready to pull the trigger, you start to read differently, and a whole new phase begins. I suppose we could call it the refinement phase (although then I'm not sure what phase I've been in for the past four months).

I'll try and get through it as fast as I can, and I've enlisted others to help, but it's going to take just a wee bit longer before this baby ships.