As of the end of October, 2009, I had a clean, edited manuscript. It was still in some fifty chapters, one chapter per file and it had no curly quotes, em-dashes or ellipsis, but it was in Times New Roman, single-spaced, and with tabs rather than the Word formatting for paragraph indents. I’d also eliminated the headers and footers, as well as the page numbering, and tried to change my underlined text to italics. That much I did before I e-mailed the chapters to Carla for editing.

Now I had to get the manuscript into the form iUniverse wanted: a single file looking the way I wanted the book to look, though of course they would do the line-breaks and page-breaks to fit the page size.

The option characters were the first problem. I run a Mac system. So did Carla, my editor. So did just about everyone else I knew—but iUniverse didn’t, and I’ve had past problems attempting to transfer option characters (em- and en-dashes, double and single curly quotes, and ellipsis) from Mac to Windows. I wasn’t sure it would transfer properly, but I used the find-and-replace to change double hyphens to em-dashes and triple periods to ellipsis. Straight to curly quotes? I knew I could do it with autoformat, but I also knew that would mess up half a dozen other things, starting with spacing between paragraphs. Besides, I had been told that iUniverse had the software to change straight to curly quotes.

So I proceeded to start a new document. I put in the title page for the first section, then copied and pasted the chapters for that section, one at a time, to the bottom of the section. Then the second section, the third and the fourth. Finally, I copied and pasted the second section to the bottom of the first (with the proper page breaks inserted) and added the third and the fourth. I went through to make sure that the point of view character and the date were properly inserted at the head of each subsection (what had been chapters) but at that point I had been through the manuscript, chapter by chapter, so often that I wasn’t sure I’d recognize errors if they hit me over the head. So I did not reread the entire manuscript—after all, all I’d done was paste the chapters together.

Big mistake.

By the end of November I was ready to submit the manuscript to iUniverse—something I could supposedly do through their website. That didn’t work (manuscript size? Mac system?) but I was able to complete the submission by attaching files to e-mails. I got word from iUniverse December 11 that my manuscript was ready for editorial evaluation. When I let them know I’d be away for the holidays December 20 through January 6, they assured me the editorial evaluation normally took two to three weeks not including weekends and holidays.

I got word Friday the 18th, after they’d left for the day, that:
The editorial evaluation was complete and attached
I qualified for Editors’ Choice with minor changes
The Rising Star board wanted me to send back a marketing plan and title information sheet (my computer couldn’t read their form) within 7 days.

By the time any of them would be back in the office I’d be in Arizona, and while I could get e-mail through the web, I wasn’t at all sure I could send attachments.

I sent off a flurry of e-mails, figuring they’d get them Monday morning. I got the answers—extra time from Rising Star and take the time you need from the editorial board, the next Monday—thank goodness my sister and brother-in-law in Arizona have a wi-fi connection among their computers! I’d already seen that the editorial evaluation was good except for two sections: the marketing materials needed polish and the grammar and formatting needed work.

The marketing comments I ignored—the package I had purchased from iUniverse included editorial polish of marketing materials, and besides, the change they suggested was plain wrong. (They changed an intransitive verb to a passive transitive, completely changing my meaning.) Unfortunately their polishers made exactly the same change for the cover of the book and eventually on the marketing material initially published by—but I didn’t know about that, yet.

The grammar examples they gave me were where I put my paragraph breaks and commas. Mostly stuff that is really author’s voice. Then I started checking out the formatting.

Remember I said it was a mistake to trust Word?

As nearly as I can figure out what happened, Word gave random paragraphs an extra quarter inch inset, added 6 points below them, and garbled the italics, sometimes changing italics to plain and sometimes plain to italics. I went through the entire manuscript line by line, correcting these errors and finding a few places where intended italics were still underlined. Then I sent it back, repeating my request that straight quotes be changed to curly ones.

For the first time they said they couldn’t.

I knew the em-dash and the ellipsis worked, so I hoped the curly quotes would, and made the changes via find-and-replace as follows:
1. Change “space straight double quote” to “space left curly double quote.”
2. Change “tab character straight double quote” to “tab character left curly double quote.”
3. Change “straight double quote space” to “right curly double quote space.”
4. Change “straight double quote paragraph symbol” to “right curly quote paragraph symbol.”
5. Change all single quotes to right curly single quotes.

These changes took care of everything except the few cases where I had nested quotes—e.g, “He told me ‘forget it.’” But I had also used space single quote for shortened words—e g, ’ported for teleported, and those needed a right single quote. I set word to find and change “space single quote” to “space left curly single quote,” but this had to be done one change at a time. Luckily, there weren’t that many single quotes at the beginnings of words, and I finished the changes and sent the manuscript back in late January. By January 29, the book went to the production department, and the editing process and my fights with Word were over—for Homecoming.

I’ll know better on the sequel.