Galleys, and Why We Take the Time

Instead of spending our Saturday night doing, well, whatever it is we might do on a Saturday night, we spent the evening putting together galleys for our authors.

First, what is a galley? To steal directly from wikipedia:

“In printing and publishingproofs are the preliminary versions of publications meant for review by authors, editors, and proofreaders, often with extra wide margins. Galley proofs may be uncut and unbound, or in some cases electronic. They are created for proofreading andcopyediting purposes, but may be used for promotional and review purposes also.[1][2][3]

Galley proofs are so named because in the days of hand-set type, the printer would set the page into galleys, the metal trays into which type was laid and tightened into place. These would be used to print a limited number of copies for editing mark-up. The printer would then receive the edits, re-arrange the type, and print the final copy.”

Basically they’re just proof reading copies. I could be more current and call them proofs, but I like the romance of “galleys.” It feels so old world.

But this isn’t a discussion in my interest in words, it is a why discussion. As in, why did I sit for two hours tonight copy and pasting galleys instead of getting drunk and playing Words with Friends?

First, and I think foremost, I care about my authors. I want them to be happy and to trust that their publication will be as they envisioned. I have had typos appear in poems. I have had poems that needed to be changed prior to publication, only to be told that no changes were allowed. While I am happy with all of my publications, there was an amount of trust and connection lost between that publisher and I.

I do understand that not all magazines can allow for changes to be made to poems, that it is the author’s responsibility to submit finished work. Putting together an issue, whether it is print, ebook, or website, is time consuming and it isn’t often feasible to allow authors to edit as they go. But who wouldn’t like just a little piece of mind that their work will appear in print correctly? If everything is right, then the two hours we spent putting them together and emailing was just minor bump in the weekend. If there is something wrong however, then time spent will be a life saver.

As an editor I feel that providing galleys upfront saves time and frustration in the end. Other magazines that I’ve worked on have, accidentally, published things with errors. Authors care about their writing, and they catch the mistakes. And they catch them quickly. And they email frequently about those errors.

So, here is to loving our poets. Here is to keeping our sanity after publication. We love you.

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