We had received a manuscript in piecemeal fashion on July end for a new title. Had to commit for a wholesome paperback by 18 August. The urgency was serious. The author had an event coming up in Goa and there was no turning back on it. We accepted the project and the challenge. The entire team was alerted on the stringency of deadline.
The author had a typical style of writing. It was a sensitive topic on stillbirth that happened not many months ago. The sorrow was fresh and it was pouring in every page. It was a healing story and the author was still in the healing journey. Her feelings were genuine and she was keen on making it heard wide across.
During the project, she was not very responsive on mails.The subject was painful for her and she shirked dealing with it. Queries were left mostly unattended.
A WhatsApp group was created and fortunately she was more responsive in that. Her active times sadly did not match our working hours. The queries needed immediate resolution but due to her busy schedule very often they were delayed. We had to take a lot of decisions on our own accord. Fortunately, the editing was completed just in the nick of time for the manuscript to go to print with hardly two days left for the production team.
We knew that a long weekend was coming up which included a national holiday. People were on the move, unable to attend to matters promptly. We had set the manuscript for generating the first proof and were ready to go.
Suddenly, there were a series of awkward set-backs that jeopardised the entire schedule.
The author wanted some last moment changes in the manuscript after sitting on it for most part of the day silently. Obviously, she was avoiding going through the manuscript as it seemed to bring back horrible memories for her. We had to release the file that day itself.
We prodded and poked her as gently as possible to give the manuscript the green signal.
The deadline was Tuesday for the printed version of paperback. Calculating backward, the print-ready file had to be in our hands by Monday night or max by Tuesday early morning to allow 4 hours for 20 copies to be printed and delivered by Tuesday evening to the author.
Wednesday morning the author had a flight to Goa for the book release event.
It was already Friday afternoon and we were still on minor corrections. The author was suggesting corrections in a staggered manner. Since early morning, the team was up on toes. The work of proofreading of the 10 chapters and the corrections were collated in one file through division of labour within the team.
Just when we were about to push the file to the production to incorporate around 200 odd comments and corrections on the first proof, the author suddenly woke up from her fortnightly slumber to inform the editor about an entire missing chapter.
She blandly stated that she had forgotten to send a chapter.
We had talks, multiple talks, in phases, over phone, on WhatsApp, through mail…
Convincing the author to present those twenty copies at the event without that forgottenchapter was the name and the aim of the match.
We failed to win the match, the game was still on.
The chapter had to be edited and submitted and included, there was no way out of it.
That called for another 24 hours at least even if it that meant sitting through the night with an orphaned chapter to make it ready for adoption.
The author and the production editor along with the entire production team was in a state of panic. The external vendor option to normalize the latest chapter was closed due to the national holiday factor.
The number of phone calls and Google Meets shot up.
Animated discussions, cold pauses, controlled temper, suggestions, brainstorming, troubleshooting, management abilities, team spirit, friendly and unfriendly advices, intelligent tweaks, extra-long hours at work, incessant laptop crunching even on a Sunday which was Independence Day — you name it we had it in our plate!
A hurried editing followed by a hurried review of the entire first proof pdf, followed by author confirmation on the main parts of the story was finally followed by anunowned testimonial … YES, the person who promised the testimonial went deep underground and could not be dug out for approval.
A new credible scapegoat was identified from whom a partial, unorganised few lines were extracted through WhatsApp. Rest was concocted to give the file the final push towards a wholesome looking mealon Sunday late night.
The national holiday offered us independence finally close to midnight…
There was still further work to be done.
The production team was politely and impolitely hassled to organize the 104 pages of the book in an extremely crunched timeline.
By 1 pm Tuesday, the print-ready file was received and was hurriedly presented to the printer for those elusive and coveted 20 copies. A numbing pause at the printer’s throughout the day turned out to be a machine failure. The hours dragged on with mounting tension. Finally, a way forward was devised.
The copies eventually shown bright and beautiful by late evening Tuesday and the author shared a smile of gratitude and a lovely video of glistening paperbacks rolling out fresh from print.
Wednesday, she flew off with those 20 copies to showcase her skills of creativity.