More Steps Forward

I thought that I would be making my next post about the continued progress of Never Givin’ Up: The Life and Music of Al Jarreau sooner than this. But things don’t always go according to plan — or at least to schedule. Just a disclaimer here: while I’ve tried not to include too many details in the following post, there will be more than many of you care to read. I am not offended by that. What I’ve written is for those who want to know the “gory” details of getting a book ready for publication. For the rest of you, you can scroll down to the bottom, where you’ll see, for the first time online, the front cover image of the book.

I received the “first proof” back from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press on January 26. This is an exciting moment in the process, as an author finally gets to see just what all those words and photos are going to look like on the pages of the book. I was given two weeks to review those page proofs. This may seem a generous amount of time, and I’m not complaining, but in those two weeks I needed to once again pore over every page — every word — of the book. My familiarity with what is in the book at that point was both a blessing and a curse. Sure, I know just what is supposed to be there, and how I (and others) want it to look; but I’ve also read it so many times that it’s easy to see what you think is supposed to be there, rather than necessarily what is there. Nonetheless, I slogged through the roughly 330 pages of text and 40 pages of endnotes in a timely fashion. “Lingering issues” was the subject of an email exchange that lasted for another week or two beyond that.

Next, believe it or not, was submitting a photo of myself for the inside back jacket of the book. My friend Ric Damm at Ripon College took a photo that makes me look better than I actually do (to my relief).

Next up, in late March, was reviewing the copy for the full cover. We already had the front cover set (which you’ll see at the end of this post), but there is plenty of text on the inside front and back panels of the dust jacket, as well as the back of the book, which includes “blurbs” about the book (including one from Al Jarreau’s sister) and another photo of Al, and a quote from the book. It’s hard to know how many people will be in an actual book store and see this book, pick it up, and on the strength of what’s on the jacket decide whether or not to buy it. But for those people who might stumble on it, it’s important for the whole outside package to be as attractive as possible.

The first week of April I was sent the “second proof” for review. My heart almost sank at the prospect. However, my editor Liz Wyckoff laid my worst fears to rest. She said that no, I didn’t need to read the whole document again. She gave me about 20 things to look at that had been changed from the first proof. She also told me to look at anything else I wished, but that I only had three days to check everything out. She also told me that often they don’t even send authors the second proof, but we had taken so much care — both of us, and others — with this book, that she wanted to give me the chance to give it another look.

So, was I finally finished? No, although I got a few weeks off. A month later I got back the new and improved version of the full cover. I had “overnight” to check that out.

Finally — I think — May 5, I received a copy of the index to look over. This may seem like a throwaway to some of you reading this, but to some book readers what is and is not in the index is important. Not every name in a book is in an index, and not every appearance of the names that are in the index is necessarily in the index, either. Putting every single listing of every individual would make an index way too big. And long. That is, too many more pages in the book. I had four days to check this out and reply to it. It is a harder task than you might think. And we went back and forth for several more days hashing out our respective ideas and priorities.

I think I am done with my work — at least for now. Even after all of these many steps, and those that preceded them, the book will not be here right away. Did you know that there is a paper shortage in the book business these days? Rough dates, though, are that the book will be “shipped” in August, and available for purchase in mid-September. We’ll hope for the best. Thanks for hanging in there with my on this journey.

And I hope you like the cover (photo from Milwaukee PAC, 1980).

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