It is a humbling experience. The first time an editor returns an author’s precious words to him with a few suggestions and comments, and he finds the first page covered in red blood. Fortunately for me, this was not my first time. Defensive instincts still rise, but when you have a good editor like I do–Kathy Carter–it’s easy to overcome them and dig in, searching for solutions to the problems posed by the editor. With my first draft, shown here, those problems were pretty massive. Their solutions required rearranging chapters, chopping much text, and writing new text (preceded by new research).
The second draft, offered after a year of rewriting, came back with less red blood, and the third had even less. Only after three passes of editing did I engage a book designer (Fiona Raven) to create the shape of the book itself–the fonts, the page layouts, the positioning and appearance of photos and maps–and the crucial front cover. As of today, the book has been typeset to Fiona’s specifications and a second editor is proofreading it (Kathy and I have both seen it so many times we’re blind to any remaining errors). After proofreading a professional indexer will do his magic. Then, finally, printing. Expect the final product in June.