This time last week, I was in Dublin, having made the journey down to meet my editor and chat face-to-face about the feedback she sent about my book. I know that in this day and age with the internet, such meetings aren’t necessary – you can conduct entire business transactions and editorial relationships without ever actually shaking the other person’s hand, but I do like to meet people where I can and with Dublin just a couple of train rides away, I thought, why not?
My editor, by the way, is Emma Dunne – former managing editor of New Island – and it was great to get the opportunity to talk things over with her in person.
For me, getting an editor’s feedback is utterly welcomed and embraced – it reminds me of being at school and reading the comments in the margins of your English essay. Maybe I stand alone in this, but I always loved reading what my English teacher had to say about my writing – the good points and the constructive criticism. After all, if we can’t take on board comments designed to help make us better writers, then I really don’t know why you would bother asking someone to review your work.
Perhaps because of this, and because as a journalist and copywriter I know the value of editing your work, I’m really enjoying working with a professional editor, which is the first time I’ve done so with my prose writing. I want those red flags to be held up for me; I want the fact that I’ve created a fair amount of magical portals in my book pointed out because, guess what – I hadn’t even noticed. And yet – it’s clear as crystal to the professional reading the book. (Of course it is – this is why you need an editor!!)
I was at a writing event on Saturday in Belfast which was put together by Words Ireland. The focus was on how best to sustain your career as a creative writer, with a panel contributing to the discussions (poet Moyra Donaldson, publisher Patsy Horton, children’s author Sheena Wilkinson and author Ian Sansom). I chatted briefly with Sheena afterwards and when I mentioned I was working with an editor on my book, she looked relieved and said she was very glad to hear it. Her reaction, of course, was because so many self-published authors still think they can publish a book without hiring an editor. And, well, they can, practically speaking, but it will just never be as polished and professionally presented as an edited book. That’s just the way it is. I make a point of mentioning the editing process when I speak about my book now, as I want to make it clear that I am not one of those writers who dismiss editors. Yes, they cost money, but if you’re expecting people to buy your book (and you want to give self-published authors a good reputation), then they’re just necessary.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to Dublin, and myself and Emma spent a couple of hours chatting about those beta readers, plotlines, scenes that could be cut, and scenes which could be kept. I think we’ve agreed that if the passage the betas loved is given more of a reason to be there and moves the story on better than it currently does, then it could stay.
We also discussed some of the changes I’d already made in the week since I’d received her report, as I’ve tightened up on certain elements of the story and made the rules of my magical kingdom a little more clear.
Reviewers also popped up in the conversation. I’d be interested to find out more about anyone who professionally reviews self-published children’s books, and also, anyone who runs a blog dedicated to this. Self-publishing is gaining a better reputation, I find, but there are still barriers to getting your work in front of people and one of the problems in someone not hiring an editor is that many reviewers understandably aren’t prepared to read a book that hasn’t been professionally produced. We’ll see what happens on that one anyway.
I also had time to pop into one of the local independent bookstores while I was in the city, and they’ve agreed to stock a few copies of my book, which is great. Another shop up north has agreed the same, so that’s all very positive. I haven’t really been doing the rounds in that regard yet with retailers, but when I find myself in a store and there’s the opportunity to ask, well, I do. 🙂
Since getting back home, I’ve been doing rewrites and whatnot, and am keen to get more time for this over Christmas, though I’m trying to fit it in where I can up until then.
Some other good news, is that one of the short stories I submitted to a journal recently has just been accepted for publication in their next issue. It’s based in Wales and they haven’t announced the contributors yet, so I’ll post more details on that soon.
All in all, it’s been a busy week or so and it’s set to stay the same, as I want to get the manuscript reworked in time for the New Year. I’ve also finalised my blurb, which I’d been rewriting, so I hope it does its job… (To be honest, I will probably always think I want to change bits of it, but there comes a time when you have to just make a decision and let it go!).
So, that’s what’s been happening with The Book and I. Now, back to work and then, back to book work… 🙂