I just finished writing the 10th and last chapter of AdvancED ActionScript 3.0 Animation!
While it’s always an great feeling to type in that last sentence, hit save and exit and attach it to an email, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
I know many of you have probably been involved with with writing books in some capacity, but for those of you who haven’t, generally the process goes something like this:
1. The author writes the chapter and sends it in.
2. The main editor reviews it, makes sure it’s on track, on subject, communicates clearly. He makes any corrections, suggestions, questions, and passes it on to the technical reviewer(s).
3. Tech reviewers are usually not employees of the publisher, but experts in the field. For AASA, the tech reviewer is Seb Lee-Delisle (and he’s doing a great job). They make sure the author isn’t saying something totally wrong or naive, put a line in on best practices, and test all the code to make sure it actually works.
4. At this point, the chapter comes back to the author full of markup from the editor and tech reviewer. The author fixes stuff up, makes things more clear, handles any queries, or ignores it all and calls the reviewer an idiot. (Not Seb of course!)
5. The chapter then goes to the copy editor. This is a person who speaks and writes English like we speak and write code. For my chapters, this usually involves the removal of about 10 commas per page, and several dozen unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. They don’t seem to like practically, virtually, somewhat, actually, etc. nearly as much as I do. And they are always switching like, and such-as around. These people could make Miss South Carolina look like she knew what she was talking about.
6. The chapter then comes back to the author again to handle any notes by the copy editor. Generally, this means conceding that they are smarter than me and signing off on all their changes. But there’s also a lot of “what does ‘it’ refer to here?” type of questions that I need to clarify. Oh, and they make you shorten your lines of code to something like 72 characters. That gets creative.
7. Back to the publisher again. So far we’ve been working with Word documents. Now someone lays it out, puts all the art in and creates a PDF document that will be used to print the book itself.
8. Again it comes back to the author for the last round of checks. You’re not really allowed to do much here. You can’t change any text as it’s going to totally mess up the layout. All you can do is insert notes saying what should be changed. Formatting, font styles, image placement. If you spot anything in the text itself that’s majorly wrong, you might convince them to change it, but if it’s just a matter of, “I could have described this a little better,” it’s way too late at this stage of the game.
9. Author makes notes, they maybe fix it, it goes to the printer and magically appears on the bookstore shelves.
So, step 1 is done. All chapters written.
For steps 2, 3, and 4, we are done with six chapters. I have chapter 7 in my inbox ready to see how much Seb has berated my crappy code this time.
Steps 5 and 6 are the copy edit. We have four chapters done on that.
And the production edit, steps 7 and 8, only one chapter done on that.
So what’s left is:
4 tech edits
6 copy edits
9 production edits
19 chapters to work on still. Tech edits take anywhere from an hour or two up to several hours to get through. The copy and production edits are usually an hour or two at the most.
So, therefore, yeah, actually, there is pretty much somewhat of a fair amount of work still to go, but, I can practically see the light, at the end of the tunnel, virtually! (Take that copy editor!)