[7RQ] Digital proofing / Books for kids / Real cyberpunk x 2


I recently finished proofreading the galleys of THE TEMPUS PROJECT, so thought I’d explain how I handle digital proofing.

When you’re proofreading a manuscript in Word, you have the Track Changes feature at your disposal to make the process fairly painless (apart from having to use Word in the first place). But when a book is laid out — or, in the case of comics, when you’re proofing lettered art rather than a script — that’s not an option.

In Ye Olden Days, such laid-out proofs would be delivered as printouts, on paper, and you’d make what are called proofreader’s marks on them. These are a form of shorthand, symbols and abbreviations that can be made quickly while reviewing a document, so when the author/editor gets it back to make revisions, they can just as quickly see and understand what needs to be changed. But hardly anyone prints anything out any more, of course, so now we get emailed a PDF.

That’s how TEMPUS came to me — as did the galley of previous novel THE EXPHORIA CODE, as well as just about every comic proof I’ve worked on since the early 2000s, because I am Old. But in this case, being an old git has its advantages — when I began my design career, Apple Macs weren’t yet ubiquitous in agencies and studios so I learned how to do everything by hand, including proofreader’s marks. When I went to work on magazines, PDFs were still in their infancy, so proofing was still done on printouts. More marks.

All of which explains why, when I receive a PDF of a book’s layout, I import it into the Goodreader app on my iPad, pick up my apple pencil, and do this:

The substitution of “there” for “in Estonia” is fairly obvious, but the other two marks are deletions; the relevant word is struck through in the text, and that odd squiggle made in the margin alongside, where it’s easily seen.

When I’ve done this for the whole book, I export a ‘flattened’ version from Goodreader (i.e. a version with all my scribbles embedded into the PDF as if they were part of the image) across to my computer. In theory, I could send that version directly to the editor; assuming they understand proofing marks, they could carry out the changes right away.

But, as fewer and fewer people do understand them — and because my handwriting is pretty appalling — I instead go through the PDF and type all the corrections up into an email. This adds some time, of course. But the initial act of marking up the proof with marks is so fast and smooth, the total time spent is way less than if I’d done the proofing on my computer, typing notes out as I went.


There isn’t any. Or rather, there is… but as usual, I can’t talk about it 😅 A couple of Very Good Things happened with the Brigitte Sharp novels last week, and now (as always, it seems!) we’re just waiting for contracts to be signed and publishers to make an announcement. More soon…


Our little movie continues to have an outsize effect on thoughtspace: first, it was apparently an inspiration/influence on development of the new CHARLIE'S ANGELS movie, which makes me almost as happy as the line “Piers Morgan won’t like it!”:

Then, there’s the bizarre-but-kind-of-makes-sense case of a members-only cocktail bar naming itself after the movie (and even skirting dangerously close to the edges of legality with its logo…)


Who doesn’t love getting books for Christmas? Nobody worth knowing, that’s who. And who doesn’t love giving books for Christmas, too?* Here in the UK, BookTrust runs an annual holiday drive to get as many books as possible to vulnerable and underprivileged children. Spare a tenner, and help give kids something to read:
If you’re not in the UK, there’s probably a local charity doing something similar. Or maybe your library needs help and/or donations? It can’t hurt to ask.

*I don’t have kids, but from the moment they were born I was shoving books at my niece, nephew, and two godchildren. Two have turned out real bookworms: 50%, I’ll take it 😉


I love this. It almost sounds like something out of a William Gibson novel, but it’s real: a company that employs people on the autism spectrum to handle jobs for which their neurodiversity actually helps them outperform other people, such as software testing.

“While [some impairments] can be challenges for someone with ASD, many people on the spectrum are exceptionally good at such things as pattern recognition, focus, logical reasoning, and problem solving.”

And this isn’t just a feel good thing; the company is beginning to outperform its competitors. Hat-tip to Jeff Carlson for this one, find him at https://twitter.com/jeffcarlson



Speaking of cyberpunk, this is pretty hardcore: Chilean protesters using lasers to incapacitate a police drone by overwhelming its sensors.