Friday, March 26, 2010

Hopping a train

I was ready to try my hand at cross-country travel yesterday, hobo-style. Just me and my little dog, a wagon of Diet Cokes and another wagon of Milk Bones. I decided to give it one more try today because I don't really like hot dogs all that much and lifting Darcy up into the railroad cars might be a struggle.

The quest to make the perfect book can be demanding sometimes. Some books are "smooth like buttah" and float from the designer's hands right on through to the printer. For every one of those, rare like the blue moon, the four leaf clover, and the month with three paychecks, there are at least 3 "normal" books that have the typical bumps in production: we start late, the printer date moves, photography doesn't work, the rough instructions given to us bear no resemblance to the final quilt...all of these things are just normal. The pros around here deal with this all the time. Then there are the others, the ones who are determined to fight to the finish...trouble in the beginning, more challenge in the middle, and then there at the end for a change of pace, a little difficulty. Those mean literally racing deadlines, up and down stairs, hovering at the printer, hounding innocent artist types until they hand over the proofs, preparing to race the Fed Ex truck in some cases. Yesterday when I left work, I was literally a hot mess. The up-side in this case is that I fully expect this book to sell like hotcakes, to do a land office business, to sell many, many copies. Sometimes you can see the tough ones coming:  short timelines or complex technique. Most of the time, it's a surprise. And this is universal: every kind of book I've worked on has these kinds of patterns.

No matter how they begin or how they are shaped, we hope that by the time they make it out into the world, these books are reasonably well adjusted, happy, beautiful, and error-free. Most of the time, we make it. And sometimes we miss it by thaaat much (holding thumb and finger very close together while squinting Maxwell Smart style. I not only watch too much t.v. now, but I watched too much t.v. then). And when we don't, I begin to think about hitting the rails again, just me and my little dog and the necessities.

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