In three recent posts I’ve written about where I get the ideas for the characters and plots in my novels, HERE, how I come up with and (to a certain extent) invent and adapt settings, HERE, and topics that I’ve had to research, HERE
If I get all that right I can then – she says modestly – come up with a pretty good 80 thousand word story. Job done.
Except it’s not. Oh no, writing that first draft is the easy part. And when I write ‘THE END’ it’s really only the end of the beginning – or the beginning of the end perhaps??
Whatever! There’s a lot that still needs to be done to get the story ready for readers.
Check and take note
First off, I have to go back to the beginning and read over the whole manuscript. And, all the time I’m reading, I’m also checking. I’m checking for errors – errors such as factual mistakes, inconsistencies in the plot, poor wording, sloppy phrasing, irrelevancies, boring bits, punctuation missing or wrongly applied, grammar crimes … and that’s not a comprehensive list.
Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite
Then, based on my notes from the above read through, I redraft and rewrite the manuscript. I’ll do this as many times as it takes for me to be satisfied that all is now well.
Off to the Editor
Once I’m sure it’s perfect, I send my story to my editor, confident he’ll find absolutely nothing wrong. I never learn! Of course he finds plenty. He’s an amazingly clever and astute alchemist of prose and much as I’d love to disagree with his constructive suggestions and recommendations as to what needs to be changed, I find myself going, ‘you know what, he’s right.’
Rewrite some more
So, after the editorial feedback is received, it’s time to rewrite some more and make even more changes to what is now draft number 526 (okay, slight exaggeration there).
But even after that I’m still not done. Oh no.
An irresistible backcover blurb
While all the editing is going on, I have to come up with the back cover blurb which will make the book irresistible to prospective readers who pick it off the shelf in their local bookshop, or who’re browsing that big online site that sells stuff. And, as if that wasn’t hard enough, I also have to produce a six (or so) word strapline for the front cover. This must be just as convincing as the back cover text that my novel is an unputdownable must-read. Writing both these reader-capture items is SO hard. I’d rather write another whole novel than condense my current one down to a paragraph – or worse still half a dozen words.
A beguiling cover
And while I’m agonising over the cover words, I’m also in discussion with the cover designer trying to come up with an awesome, attention-grabbing cover image. For someone as artistically challenged as I am this isn’t easy. But luckily as with my editor, I’m also very fortunate to have a fantastically talented and easy to work with designer.
After all the final edits are applied and the cover text and cover images are nailed and agreed upon, you’d think that would be it, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong.
Proofread and check again
While I’m agonising over and finalising the cover, my proof-reader, aka the husband, is reading the ‘final’ manuscript to check for any errors not spotted by me or the editor, such as a missing apostrophe, a misspelling or anything that seems unclear or just plain wrong. And you know what, he’s incredibly good at his job and will always spot something that has previously gone undetected.
All set up
Then, at last, the now pristine manuscript is ready to be formatted for both print and e-book versions of the novel. And, you guessed it, after that’s done it has to be checked over yet again – just in case anything has gone awry during the conversion process.
Okay, you still with me? If so, well done. If not, waken up at the back there!
Yes, I’m almost there now. All that remains, after all of the above is complete, is to ask, beg, plead with members of my early-reading team to read at least part, if not all of my soon-to-be-published masterpiece and to let me know what they think, or better still to write a review, or maybe even a cover quote.
Then, finally, publication date can be confirmed.
And, at last, I really can write THE END.
All that remains after this point is the launch and marketing plan. But that’s a post for another day. In fact I’m going to be spending most of March preparing for the publication of Fulfilment – doing the final edits and checks and making that launch and marketing plan – and so I’ll be taking a short break from the blog.