After a few quiet months — quiet on my end, anyway — my book is back in my lap again. I now have page proofs in front of me, and I have two tasks to complete: (1) proofreading the entire book one more time, now that it has been copyedited by McFarland and laid out by their design staff; and (2) writing the index for the book.
The first task shouldn’t be too tedious. My editor at McFarland made a point of telling me the manuscript was already very clean, and I don’t think a great deal of copyediting was done silently. I have noticed a few changes (e.g., I had written an “about the editor” blurb for myself, separate from the rest of the “about the contributors” blurbs, but McFarland collapsed them into a single list, and put me in the proper spot alphabetically). Now that the book has been laid out, I can tell you that it is [xii] + 217 pages in length. That’s not counting the index, which might add another ten pages or so.
The second task will be more of a challenge, since I have never put together an index before. Well, I guess I can’t say never. I included an index with my fourth-grade school project on Saturn (the planet, not the god), and perhaps for one or two other school projects in the two or three years following. But somehow I don’t think these early experiences will help very much. For one thing, the material being indexed was only ten or so handwritten pages, each half-filled with photos cut out of National Geographic Magazine. Fortunately, for this index, I have the benefit of the advice of friends and colleagues who’ve been through it before.
The quicker I can get the proofing and indexing finished, the sooner the book will be out. Not that I’m going to sacrifice quality for speed. I’m a patient guy, and it’s been nearly three years since I first began to think about this book already. A little while longer isn’t going to hurt. As Gollum said, “more haste less speed”. Eile mit weile, am I right? Or, maggior fretta minor alto. See also: proverbs (cliché), proverbs (foreign language).
McFarland has tentatively scheduled Tolkien and the Study of His Sources to go to the printer four weeks from yesterday: July 13. I don’t know how long the printing process takes, but it is beginning to look like the date shown on most of the major booksellers’ websites (that is, August 16) might actually be accurate after all. Or at least close. My editor had warned me it would likely be later in the Fall.
I suppose we’ll see soon enough, but for those of you interested in the book, you really don’t have that much longer to wait. I am abuzz with excitement at the imminence of hearing what you all think. Review copies will also be going out before too much longer. Then, if the reception is good, it will be time to bask in my accolades — or if not so good, to duck. :)