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Making the Deadline

Our by-line here at Shack Simple Press is "responsible for every word." That's easy to say, but it can be hard to do. With respect to our most recent, and soon to be published book, Land is a Big Deal, over 200 customers had already purchased the book on a pre-order status by last Monday, and the deadline for the book's release on Oct. 15th, 2022 was both firm, and well publicized. We had a duty to our customers and to our author to get the book out on time. On the other hand, we are committed to making our books as perfect as we can make them. We wanted to be proud of this title, and be able to stand behind it, not only with respect to its content, but also as an object, a made thing. The author wrote it, but we here at Shack Simple Press have made it into a book; a book that we hope our customers will enjoy and find instructive. Indeed, we rather fondly hope that it will be one of those books that is, as Ezra Pound once suggested every book should be - "a ball of light in the hand." Given our ethos, we simply couldn't overlook any errors that had made it into the final layout of the book. Alas, errors there were. There was still the odd typo, the occasional grammatical infelicity, and there was the final tidying up of a long running dispute between the editors and the author about how informal the style of the book should be, with the author wishing to retain the immediacy and folksy humor of the original articles, while the editors sought to elevate the tone and encourage a transition into a somewhat more formal writing style. This rather Lilliputian battle was waged for months - but fortunately, with gentle humor, wit, camaraderie and patience - and everyone involved eventually reached an angle of repose with respect to tone and style of the final book. There were, however, still a few such unresolved issues floating to the surface even after Shack Simple Press received the first proofs from the printer, and these had to be formally addressed. There were also some rather more serious problems - there were unaesthetic errors in the printer's layout of the cover, and on the inside of the book, a frustrating Microsoft Word software issue repeatedly resulted in compressed images that were difficult to read in the pdf proofs. With the deadline growing nearer, and nearer, we continued to find ourselves forced to reject and correct proof after proof. For a moment, we thought that we might be forced to choose between maintaining our standards as persons responsible for every single word or doing our duty and keeping our promised by getting the book out on time. In the end, it did not come to that, of course. Some four hours before the final press deadline (if we were to have the books in hand to mail before the weekend of October the 22nd) we were presented with an acceptable printer's proof of both the cover and interior, and after a final brief consult with the author, James and I approved the print run. As I write this, the books have been printed, the glue is drying on the spines, and the books are being subjected to a final inspection by the printers. Assuming all is well - the books will be boxed up and mailed to us on 10/11/22, and arrive on the evening of 10/13/22, ready to go out the door on Saturday to all of those who pre-ordered the book. It was a close thing, but we've learned a lot, and we hope to never get that close to the edge again. In any case, the deed is done. We hope that you will like Lars Doucet's new book. We certainly do!

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