THE END is only the beginning.
I am excited to tell you that my debut novel with Choc Lit is one step closer to publication as I have just completed the editing phase of my novel. The journey to this point has been a long one; however my final destination is now much closer and my hero and heroine are eager to meet you. Let me share with you what we have been through to get to this moment.
It takes me 7 to 10 months to write a novel. However, typing The End is not the end. Those two little words mark the beginning of the next phase a manuscript has to go through – the editing phase. Did I hear you groan?
Great editing is often taken for granted, whereas poor editing is difficult to ignore. The sudden appearance of a plot hole or grammatical error will jolt the reader out of the fictional world they want to inhabit. When this happens, the book has momentarily “lost” its reader. The book industry invests a lot of time, money and effort in an attempt to prevent this from happening and editing is part of their armoury (or armory if you are a U.S. reader!).
Initially a manuscript is edited and fine tuned by an amateur editor. In this case – yours truly. This process can be an emotional roller-coaster for the writer, whose aim is to produce a manuscript ready for submission. I normally edit as I write as it is only natural to correct spelling, grammar and fill plot holes along the way. My second edit involves reading the complete manuscript on my laptop. For my third edit I read a printed version. Editing a printed version is incredibly useful as it highlights many errors that can be missed on the laptop. By the end of my third edit I have lived with my manuscript for almost a year. The characters have never been far from my thoughts and I know it too well to read it objectively. It is about now that I give the manuscript to someone I trust for valuable feedback.
Stephen King gives his manuscripts to his wife. I give mine to my daughter and, thankfully, she is honest with her opinion. The manuscript is polished for a fourth time and it is at this point, which is several months after I typed The End, it is ready to send out to the book industry. Getting a novel accepted by an agent and/or publisher can take months, even years. It may never happen. Luckily it did for me and I signed with Choc Lit.
Several months after signing on the contractual dotted line the author starts working with the publisher’s professional editor to prepare the manuscript for publication. It is this part of the process I have just completed. It requires concentration, motivation, compromise and the ability to manage your time efficiently to meet any proposed deadlines. The odd bar of chocolate helps a lot too!
Professional editing is made up of several layers. A different aspect of the manuscript is scrutinised (or scrutinized if you are an American reader) at each layer. All editors work differently and the names they use for the different types of editing (i.e. structural edits, line edits, copy edits and proof reading) may vary. Some editors overlap these layers. A good relationship with your editor makes the process far easier. In my opinion, great editing is invisible to the reader. That is to say the reader can immerse themselves in the story without being disturbed by errors.
So now you know how much time and effort goes into preparing a novel for your eyes. The Thief’s Daughter is almost ready for publication and I am chomping at the bit to see it released. Yet, there are still several steps to complete before my 18th century romance is out there in the big wide world. I hope to share them with you. My hero and heroine are as impatient as I am. In my mind they are standing on a Cornish clifftop waiting for you to join them, as the turbulent waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash on the jutting rocks below. In the meantime, I have a dog who wants his walk. He deserves a long one as he has sat patiently by my side throughout this long process.