Hindsight is 20/20, as the old saying goes. This could not be truer of our Red Weather galleys. As the head of the design team, I sent off our first version of the file to print knowing it wasn’t perfect, but I was only expecting to make minor changes to the galleys. And then came the glorious day when our books arrived! The margins were wrong, titles were different sizes, stories had random typos, and one piece even had a very important chunk missing. They were less than perfect, to say the least. However, printing and re-working our galleys helped cement just how important it is to proofread on paper.
There were several challenges that were much easier to solve with our galleys in hand. For one, I would have had difficulty figuring out the margins without being able to measure the glued portion of the spine. Our printing company also mentioned that they had to center our spine, so [book-lover warning] I ripped out the pages of one of our copies so I could properly measure where the natural center of the spine should hit. Another challenge during the first round was figuring out if our fonts actually looked good together and if everything was uniform. As previously mentioned, I had not set some of our titles at the same font size as the rest, and some of the fonts just did not work. Details like those can be easily overlooked on a computer screen, but they become incredibly obvious in the print edition. A third struggle was in spacing. We had a lot of spacing issues in our galley that the rest of the class immediately noticed, from extra tabs in prose pieces to accidental hyphenation in the middle of poetry lines. At some point, looking at the same thing on a screen can numb you to the most obvious of mistakes, so the print version served to ground me with concrete and easy fixes to the manuscript.
Print copies also encourage collaboration and input from our entire class. The design team made most, if not all, the design decisions for the galley. However, once we had our galley copies, everyone in the class could offer feedback on certain aspects of the book in order to help us improve. It was very valuable for me to hear opinions besides my own on decisions our design team was unsure on. And because I didn’t have to sort through the 15-20 copies of the magazine from each of our classmates, the primary team editors: Ashley T., Olivia C., and Laura G. compiled their primary group’s suggestions and text edits into a single book. Our advisor and professor, the always amiable Nayt Rundquist, also gave me tons of great suggestions and taught me about optical margin alignment. This process would have been unnecessarily complicated by using digital copies. Instead, I just flipped through each of my five copies of the galley (including my own personal copy) one by one and added in the edits.
Putting together our galleys was a great experience for me and hopefully the rest of the designers. Having tangible proof of the work we’ve put in this semester is a great feeling, and editing in print is a serious benefit to any publishing process. We will be checking the final proofs this week and having our final manuscripts printed, so let’s hope those typos are out! If not, just blame a computer.