So as it was impossible to get everything done by Halloween, we creep through November and I’m going through what will hopefully be the last set of proofs before getting the physical copy of Child of Doors so I can proofread it before, finally, releasing it upon the world. Halloween was a blast, got to see my favorite musical Evil Dead and the guy that runs it, Chance Newman, is a great guy and an amazing Ash and helped promote Child of Doors by handing out bookmarks at the Evil Dead showings. This year it was a bit odd to be handed something I helped create.
Of course the main point in creating it is to get it out to the public for people to enjoy, or rage at, which ever it ends up being. And so I’ve been going through the proofs, final typeset pages of the book, and making sure that everything has the right font and any little things like missing commas are corrected. The thing I keep running into is the utter disaster that is the tool-chain for creating books these days.
Here’s what I’m talking about. Generally the process is : write manuscript, edit, rewrite, proofread, typeset, publish. The problem here is that in the digital age where chunks of physical pages are no longer just sent through the mail for each of these steps, the process for doing each step has almost no relation to the next step. I love writing in Scrivener. My editor like using Word because it has Track Changes so you can comment per line in a document. I tend to do all of the text editing back in Scrivener and then I export it back into a Word document so that my editor can make additional changes. Then it moves on to something like InDesign or Latex for typesetting which involves taking the text and putting in section breaks and the correct fonts and line spacing and all of that. This tends to produce something like a PDF or Postscript file. Then this could either go to printing or be further processed into an ebook format. Of course the ebook formats are all different and every device renders them a little differently.
This leads me to RAGE AT THE HEAVENS.
I’m so used to the world of programming where these shenanigans would be laughed right into the dustbin of history. So there’s one format to write in, one format to edit in, one format to typeset in, and even more to actually publish in that are all rendered a different way on different devices? That’s just bug-fuck insane.
In my perfect world I could write in Scrivener and use all of it’s research and organizing capabilities, then somehow mark the sections that would be the manuscript. My editor could make comments and suggestions to this layer of the manuscript and I could accept or modify those changes. Then there would be some kind of ‘presentation’ layer that would overlay this that could be used to generate all of the different formats for POD and ebook readers. I know it seems a bit naive of me, but I’d think that if you were knee deep in the middle of trying to completely change the way an industry works, making a sane tool-chain would be at the top of the list. But then that takes willpower and/or money and agreement between everyone that this is way to do things. And I bet that herding cats would be easier.