You’ll both recall that the UK and Commonwealth rights to my ongoing tome A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth were acquired by Picador, notwithstanding inasmuch as which rights to translations into six different foreign languages have also been acquired (they are German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Romanian and simplified Chinese).
I can now announce that the US and Canada rights have gone to St Martin’s Press, as in this announcement in Publishers Weekly:
Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, I have actually finished the first draft. Now I am going through the text scouting for typos, tangled tenses and other wrinkles.
Although I write on a computer, I always do such checking on printouts. Mi$takes that jump out at you on a printout do their best to hide themselves away when read on screen. ‘These are not the typos you are looking for’, they seem to say, as your eyes just slide over them.
An even better way to spot typos, as my friend the Rev. R. C of Northants recalls one Professor R. D. of Oxford telling him — is to read the text aloud. Indeed it is, and it’s something I counsel all beginning writers. Sentences that seem, on screen, or even in print, to be models of lucidity reveal themselves, when read aloud, as the lexical equivalents of a motorway pile-up. Such sentences can often be halved. Or quartered. Or dispensed with entirely, with minimal loss of semantic content.
One shouldn’t be embarrassed to read one’s text aloud. One should, however, have an audience, even if it is only a row of stuffed toys, or, better — a dog.
Dogs will always be pleased with what you write, though sometimes their enthusiasm can extend to eating the printout, a habit that should be discouraged. As Groucho Marx once said: Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read’.