A few days ago we received a package of proofs from the printers (Toppan) in China. It’s another one of those significant milestones in publishing a book. In fact, it’s pretty much the very very last step before they put the whole shebang on press and turn over a year’s worth of love and labor into books for you. It’s also one’s last chance to change anything, should you find something wrong at this point in the process.
As I write this our book designer Lisa is starting to review the proofs after which she’ll hand them off to our photographer Jenn. This is their chance to make notes which can be passed to the printer regarding adjustments to any of the images and the overall ‘look’ of things when ink is applied to paper. There’s actually quite a bit that can be done ‘on press’ to adjust color balance and tonality. Ideally you don’t want to do anything at this point but should the need arise, this is our chance to provide that input.
For that purpose we’ve had two different kinds of proofs made: digital proofs for all the photos and so-called wet proofs that show how the pages will look when real inks (and not toner) are used to reproduce ‘em. This is especially important for Left Coast Libations because in addition to the standard CMYK ink set we are using two additional spot inks (AKA Pantone Solids) for the page backgrounds. Up till now we’ve only seen what these will look like as simulated by an ink jet printer.
The other things you check for at this point are more mechanical: are all the pages present and in the right order? Are any of the design elements missing from any of the pages? For that we rely on a plotter proof. This proof shows the result of having taken the pages in reader order (as we submitted them), shuffling them together into what’s called an imposition form (as they will be printed together on a single sheet of paper) and then folding and cutting the form to make collections of pages, known as signatures. And if the forms were set up correctly, this results in the pages being presented, once again, in reader order. What you get with the plotter proof is a loose set of simulated signatures wrapped up with the cover and the end papers. Here’s a photo:
Did you follow all that? Good. Celebrate with me and have a cocktail! Yum!
Oh, there was one last bit in the proofing package. It’s a sample of what the finished book will look like…if they forgot to print anything on it. In other words, it’s a blank version of the book. Here it is:
In less than a month we should have a real version of the book to show you here, one of the advance copies we’re having sent back by air. A few lucky reviewers in the long-lead national press will be the final recipients of those.