Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Own Private Guantánamo

When an author submits a manuscript to a publisher, he is supposed to adhere to the publisher's submission guidelines.

For example, one area of those guidelines pertains to chapter notes. My publisher requests that all chapter notes be compiled in a separate file (which is placed at the end of the book), and thus the number signals in the text would not link directly to their respective notes. (Linking means that, during the editing process, when you place your cursor over the number, the note text pops up. This enables the editor to see if the note matches the respective text and can only work if there are footnotes.)

The manuscript I'm working on has footnotes and, therefore, linked numbers in the text. I can only guess why the acquisition editor in this case accepted the manuscript as submitted, in blatant violation of the guidelines. Most likely, it is related to the intense pressure that traditional publishers (and acquisition editors) are under as they compete with the emerging digital publishing industry.

What I do know, however, is that the mechanics involved (and the time required) to transform more than 600 footnotes with linked numbers into a new file, and replace linked numbers in the text with unlinked numbers are sheer editorial hell. I will spare you the details.

Today will be devoted to completing that task. What comes to mind is how we used to blast rock music as part of PsyOps torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and military prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Uh oh, here comes the warden, and I think he's about to crank it up.