Volume 1 Files Finally Received from Publisher

I spent the long Presidents’ Day weekend reviewing the frontmatter and initial stories from volume 1 of the Dissident Press Series, Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press. After so many months of sending files to Michigan State University Press, finally receiving files back from them, for both the stories and the images, made it all feel real.

I’m pleased so far with their work. Files showed electronic coding, of course. That’s how book pages are prepared in this electronic age.

Most of the other editing was light, mostly for the mundane purpose of bringing my style into conformity with theirs and being consistent. Uppercasing or lowercasing: “Leftist” or “leftist”; “Communist” or “communist”?  When should I spell out numbers one to ten? When should I use numerals? Context matters, and I have my own preferences as a long-time editor. But after editing some 1,500 pages from the four volumes I couldn’t remember which way I went for what context every single time. Long ago, I resolved that I would just do my best and go with their style. They made lots of those types of changes. Thanks, MSU Press.

Beyond that, they showed deep respect for the writing of my contributors and for my own editing as the series editor. As MSUP’s in-house project editor for the series wrote, “Our aim was to correct or query any apparent errors or omissions and to impose a book-level style in purely mechanical matters (for example, in the decision of how to render mentions of decades—between, say, seventies, nineteen seventies, and 1970s), while allowing variation in matters that could be considered more than mechanical (such as the decision of whether to capitalize the racial nominations black/Black and white/White).”

Also, the title, Dissident Press Series, is now official. For those reasons I am grateful, for the respect they showed our work and because I do not have to send the files back to my contributors just to have them say, “It’s still okay.”

The only disappointment I’m feeling is that volume 1 won’t be out until the end of this year. Our initial tentative publication date was May 2010. The other part of the plan, to release a new volume every six months until all four are out, is still intact.

On the bright side, the whole process has taught me patience.

I’ll be writing more about volume 1 in coming weeks, especially as we get closer to publication date. In the meantime, if you’re interested in being part of my mailing list, please write to me at info@azenphonypress.com.