Back to doing what I do, which is….

First day back at work after just over a week off. It wasn’t terribly bad. I certainly kept busy with the usual stuff, because the holiday has crunched some schedules and my partner in crime was still out of the office. Oh, what’s “usual stuff,” you ask? I typeset large print books, for the most part. Well, “typeset” implies there’s actual type being set; this being the 21st century and all, it’s more accurate to say I “compose” books since the process involves desktop publishing software and, in the end, an Adobe PDF that’s sent to a printer far away. No ink-stained wretch, I. (Except when I’m sloppy while writing notes to the editors.) The general idea is, I get an XML file that represents the book (which has almost always been published already by a major fiction or nonfiction house in “small print”), and I “pour it into” the software, which magically makes about 80 percent of the book in big, beautiful type. I then massage the last 20 percent into place and send it to the editors, who have it proofed. Then I get it back to make corrections. The average book takes me or my P.I.C. about an hour, including corrections. Most books are, structurally, just a lot of paragraphs with occasional chapter titles. It’s a bad day when one book takes four or five hours; those are the ones with sidebars, images, and other fiddly bits that need to be placed just so. Not “bad,” I guess, but “challenging.” The product line includes genre fiction, though oddly not a lot of science fiction and less fantasy, some mainstream fiction and nonfiction, and a considerable amount of Christian fiction and nonfiction. We’re not really supposed to read them, but I occasionally can’t help myself from perusing a few paragraphs.
     I’ve done this for about six and a half years so far. Before that I was a production editor, shepherding reference books to the printer. The part of that process that I always liked best was the final production end, and now that’s pretty much all I do. The only drawback at the moment is, the company is moving inexorably deeper into “digital solutions,” so being a specialist in book production makes me wonder how tenuous my hold on my career is. The large print books are fairly popular, though, so I think things are pretty safe for now.
     I wonder how much more I could say. There have been books where I’ve wanted to say “Ooh, guess what I got to work on today!”, but I don’t know where nondisclosure agreements and what-not come into play. I also have opinions on stuff I’m not so appreciative of, but I really can’t announce those publicly. I guess it bears noting that I do not speak on behalf of any publisher, not the least the one I work for. Just thought it might be interesting to give a brief overview of what pays for my vacation days.


About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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4 Responses to Back to doing what I do, which is….

  1. changeling72 says:

    Interesting indeed. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a ‘safe’ job these days.

    • songdogmi says:

      I’m afraid there really isn’t. It’s probably more useful to prepare for any eventuality than anything else. But I’m not exactly jumping on that bandwagon yet, either, myself.

  2. That’s pretty cool. I didn’t know what you did.

    • songdogmi says:

      Yeah, it is pretty cool. I’m working with a bunch of people I like, too. I’m not just saying that because they might see this either. 🙂 Lots of longevity, and lots of interesting world experiences among us all.

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