Thursday, January 26, 2017

Timeline of a Prince Gateway Biography

How long does it take to make a book for Lerner Publications? Check out highlights of the editor's role in making our hot-off-the-presses Gateway Biography Prince: The Man, The Symbol, the Music.

June 2016
-Manuscript arrives from author. We apply for copyright.
-Initial edit, during which I walk around with Prince tunes running through my head at all times.
-Edit manuscript, cut text to meet word count, add clarifying questions for author, such as: “Can you confirm dates here? This obit of his dad says they separated in 1968 and divorced in 1970, but other sources are inconsistent.”
-Production designer sends preliminary cover ideas. Art director notes include such comments as:
"The type treatment is clean and modern but wonder if it's not funky enough. What if the whole thing was angled? And I think we need more purple and more funkiness!"
-I meet with the associate editor-in-chief to make sure the content is okay for our upper elementary school library audience. We agree that it’s okay to say “sexually explicit lyrics” and describe what Prince was (or was not) wearing on an album cover, as long we’re tasteful and gloss over pretty much all details. Because really, how can you have a bio of Prince without mentioning any of the controversy surrounding him?

July
-Manuscript comes back from fact-checker with mostly confirmations but also a few queries. On this timeline entry: 
1979    He and his band play their first live show on January 6. 
she left this note:
Everything I’m finding says it was January 8, 1980.
Checking this leads me on a fascinating exploration online, where I discover that yes, the first show was January 6, but that Prince and his band actually played three nights in a row at the Capri Theater in Minneapolis, which still exists and I’ve driven past it multiple times. 

August
-I review the rough layout and write photo captions. Questions I need to answer include:
-How many cool images of Prince’s Hall of Fame performances are too many? (Totally subjective answer: Three is probably okay if they’re on different spreads; more than that is too much.)
-In this photo of Wendy and Lisa, which one is Wendy and which one is Lisa? They look sort of alike, at least in this picture. (Google image search of Wendy and Lisa in the 1980s…)
-Would a picture of First Avenue Club in the 1970s be appropriate in the chapter about Prince’s teenage years? Search engine search…hm, well, it was called Sam’s in the 1970s, and Prince didn’t actually play there until the 1980s. I discover a fascinating Pitchfork article about some of the other goings-on of First Avenue Club’s history.

September
-The team reviews the layout. Production designer sends emails such as: “Would this photo work as a replacement for p. X? The issue with the photo before was there was a weird person in the background.”
-We do final tweaks and final checks. Files are sent to the printer. Then we wait. (Well, actually we work on lots of other awesome books while we wait, of course.)

January 2017
Printed books appear in the editorial department! I’m pretty proud of the results! What do you think? How did we do?

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