Tag Archives: Books

Online book launch

Since my last post, I’m very pleased to say that everything with the book has stayed on track and … I’ve finally approved Magical Masquerade for publication! It will be available to buy from tomorrow (Sunday, April 30) so it looks like I made my publishing deadline after all. 🙂

To celebrate, I’ve decided to have an online book launch over on my author Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/ClaireSavageAuthor/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

FullSizeRender (20)I’ll also be tweeting throughout the day and I’ll be giving away free copies of the book on both Twitter and Facebook, so if you’re online watch out for that and please do say hello!

The Facebook launch will take place from 12pm-2pm (UK time) and details of that are all over on my author page, so if you want to join in the chat and help me celebrate, then please feel free. I’ll also be having an offline launch in Belfast in the near future too, but you’ll have to wait another week for more details about that…

Meanwhile, I also did another interview this week about the book for local press, but it won’t be coming out until the offline book launch news has been announced, so I’ll post a pic once it’s published. And, there’s another radio interview in the pipeline too, so it’s all go!

The work doesn’t stop once the book is actually published, but I’m enjoying the marketing side of things at the moment, though I’m also keen to get writing again… Ideas are snapping at my heels, but one thing at a time…

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From proofs to publication…

If you follow my author Facebook page (Claire Savage – Author) then you’ll know that my proof copies of Magical Masquerade finally arrived on Good Friday! I watched the delivery van pull up with an immense sigh of relief, as the proofs were more than two weeks overdue, which has set me back those two weeks in terms of my publication date.

IMG_1277Although I was trying to be patient and play it cool with the original order, once it got to 12 days beyond the agreed delivery date (which was March 30), I contacted CreateSpace to see what was what. As I’m based in the UK, this meant having to wait 24 hours for a reply, what with the time difference, but they got back to me quickly and sent me the tracking details of the original order… which seemed to show that they were delivered on the evening of March 29! Yes, I was a little confused as well, given that I work from home and was readily available to spy couriers approaching the house…

Thankfully, despite this ‘evidence’ of proofs delivered, CreateSpace believed me when I said they hadn’t arrived and sent me another batch, which arrived three days later, on April 14. I still don’t know what happened with the first batch, but credit is due to CreateSpace for their speedy resolution of the problem. On Good Friday I had my proofs, and I was very happy…

So – what of the books themselves? Well, after all of the drama surrounding their delivery, I was delighted to see that they didn’t disappoint with their appearance in any way. Simply put – I think they look brilliant and I’m very pleased with the quality of the paperback in every way.IMG_1276

I chose a matt cover and it looks and feels fantastic. The cardboard is a little thinner than the cover of a traditionally published paperback, but I knew that beforehand and I still think it works very well. As it’s a children’s book, the font is a bit bigger than it would be for an adult novel but I checked it against recently published children’s books for the same age-group that I have at home and it seems to match up well so, thankfully, I don’t need to make any changes to this, which is music to my ears.

That being said, the point of a proof is to allow you to go through the book with a fine toothcomb now that it’s in bound book form, to catch any outstanding errors that might have been missed in the final manuscript proofing stages. What could possibly have been missed after countless edits, you might ask? Well, you’d be surprised. We’ve all seen the odd typo, punctuation error or otherwise in published books which are scoured by multiple editors, proofreaders and publishers, so something is always bound to slip through. However, going through the proof at this stage again seeks to weed out the most obvious of these and yes – something generally always needs fixed.

boojksFor me, the main thing to amend is a bit of my back matter, as the text on one of the final pages starts too far down the page, so that needs to be pulled back to the top. Other than that, I’m midway through reading the book again and have noted a few words which have caps when they shouldn’t, a few words I want to change, and a few small spacing errors between words. Small things, but things which will make the book better once fixed.

So, what does all this mean for my April publication date..? Well, if it wasn’t for the two weeks past waiting for proofs which never came, then I would be firmly on track with my chosen publication date. That being said, this hasn’t put me too far off that, so all is good. The e-book will still be released on April 29 and I hope that by next weekend I will be hitting ‘publish’ on the paperback. However, as I’ve said before, once I approve the book for publication, it can take two weeks or so for it to appear on Amazon, so it could be the first week or two in May before you’ll actually be able to buy it.

And guess what…? I’m not stressing about that.FullSizeRender

I’ve waited a long time to get my book ‘out there’ and there’s no point rushing things at this final stage only for errors to slip through the net. A couple of weeks overdue is fine – I get to decide my publication date and, well, sometimes these things just happen. Proofs get lost in transit and things get delayed, but we get there in the end. In the traditional publishing world, once an author gets their proofs it’s generally still a few months more until the book is published, as that time is used to whip the book into the best shape it can be in. So, my extra few weeks is nothing – and a stage no writer can really afford to skip.

So, my timeline leading up to publication is now as follows:

  • Finish reading Magical Masquerade today and note any further edits required.
  • Make all final changes to the manuscript tomorrow (Easter Monday); convert to PDF and upload final-ever version to CreateSpace once again.
  • Wait 24 hours for CreateSpace to approve the uploaded manuscript (checking it’s formatted correctly for them to print). In the meantime, make the same changes I made to the paperback to the e-book and re-upload the final version of that to KDP.
  • Wednesday: The book should be approved on CreateSpace and ready for me to order another proof if I so wish. I do wish. Why? Because I’m a paranoid sort of a writer and I need to see the final version is what I want it to be! I will choose fastest-ever shipping though, so the book will be with me by next weekend. (Fingers crossed it doesn’t go AWOL like before!!).
  • Next weekend: Receive my shiny new proof copy from the courier (who now knows where I live, so there’s no excuse) and check over it before hitting ‘publish’.
  • Wait one, two or three weeks (who knows?!) until the book appears on Amazon for sale and then let you all know about it. 🙂
  • Celebrate publication day (when the book is live on Amazon to purchase) with a day of social media shenanigans – I will be tweeting and Facebooking all the day long my friends … you have been warned!

So, that’s my schedule ahead of publication. I also have the four proof copies from Friday to deliver to a few people who need to see them for various reasons. It irks me slightly that I’m giving these over with the final changes not yet made, but that’s just the way of it!

Incubator Journal interview

IncubatorIn other news… I was also recently interviewed about my writing and about Magical Masquerade by Kelly Creighton of the Incubator Journal, which was published yesterday, so if you want to have a read of that you can do so here: https://issuu.com/theincubatorjournal/docs/the_incubator._issue_12

I love the cover of this and what’s more, it was designed with a nod to MM, which was a lovely thing to do!

Anyway, that’s my updates for now. More as I have it!

Pre-order the Magical Masquerade e-book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XQ2GF27

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Pre-orders open for MM e-book!

Can there be a more exciting email subject line to land in your inbox than this – ‘Proof shipped: Magical Masquerade…’ ? Not really, no! Yes, Magical Masquerade is currently winging its way to me from the States so you may or may not see a photo of me clutching it with a big grin on my face in the next blog post – depending on how quickly it travels.

In the meantime, I have more exciting news (exciting to me anyway lol):

The Magical Masquerade e-book is now available to pre-order!

Just click this link: http://amzn.to/2mF6YK6 dfw-cs-mm-cover-ebook

I didn’t actually realise you could do this … if I had, I would have mentioned it in the Northern Woman magazine article … The main thing, however, is that it is doable, so if you have a Kindle and want to give it a go, it’ll only cost you a couple of dollars. 🙂

I’ve set the e-book release date as April 29, because I want it to be available at the same time as the paperback (which, by the way, I don’t have an exact release date for yet, other than April. This is because it can take a week or two to appear on Amazon after I hit ‘publish’ and I still need to approve those proofs…) It basically gives me enough leeway to ensure that the e-book won’t be out before the paperback and, if all is well with my print proofs, then I might be able to move the publication date forward. I.e. You might get it earlier than April 29. I will keep you informed! And no – you can’t pre-order the paperback version, as this is only an option for the e-books currently.

As I mentioned before, I just couldn’t face doing the e-book formatting in the end, after tackling the paperback, so a big thank you to the ever-helpful Averill Buchanan for assisting with this! She’s done a great job and it certainly wouldn’t have been uploaded as quickly if I had been at it!

Bookstore update

As well as sorting out the e-book, I also took some time this week to contact a couple of NI’s leading bookstores re stocking the paperback. Now, as a self-publishing author, I realise that online sales are the focus for my book. Indeed, the general advice is not to try getting into bricks and mortar stores because it’s just too expensive for the author – you end up having to bulk-buy the books yourself and/or go through a distributor, which could end up costing you thousands … (Not a good plan unless you have money to burn!) Also, some stores won’t take SP books anyway, though it’s always worth asking if you’re keen to get into one.

However, I’m not trying to get the book everywhere offline and I was interested to see what the response would be. Feedback was that the paperback may have a chance of getting into one of my local bookstores but nothing is as yet confirmed and it may be they can just buy in enough books for an author event. I’d be happy with that, so we’ll see how it goes.

I also have a few independent stores who are willing to take the book so I’ll keep you updated on this too.

Other than that, I will be on the air waves again once Magical Masquerade is published, so I’ll let you know when and on which radio station that will be happening once all is confirmed.

Other bookish stuff

I will certainly be watching eagerly for my postman over the next 10 days, as not only am I looking forward to receiving my proofs, I’m also expecting my first-ever FairyLoot box, which also happens to be their first anniversary box. (So it’ll be extra-special I hear …)

If you haven’t heard of FairyLoot, I’ve linked to it a couple of lines back but essentially, it’s a YA (Young Adult) subscription box of bookish treasure, including a new release YA hardcover and an assortment of bookish gifts every month. Quite frankly, it looks brilliant from what I see online.

February’s box has the theme Myths & Monsters, while April’s theme is Dreams & Wishes (yes, I’ve already ordered the April box without receiving my first box, such is my faith that it will be great!). I should point out that I’m not affiliated to FairyLoot in any way – it just seems like a really cool bookish brand and if you like YA fantasy books then I recommend you check them out!

Anyway, those are all my updates for the week! Now, back to waiting for that postman …

PS Don’t forget – if you want to pre-order the Magical Masquerade e-book for Kindle, you can do so here! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XQ2GF27 🙂

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Bookish updates

Publishing a book is not as easy as it looks and if you doubt me, then have a go at book formatting and you’ll soon find out the challenges! With the day job keeping me busy during the week, I’ve spent the past couple of weekends getting to grips with formatting Magical Masquerade so I can finally upload it to CreateSpace and send off for my proof copies. From there, it’s just a few short weeks to hitting that ‘publish’ button and releasing it to the world…reuben-roses

For now, however, formatting has been keeping me well and truly on my toes. I was always determined to do this bit by myself, and after doing it all wrong last weekend, I might just have managed to get it sorted this weekend. I’m sending it to a trusted friend who knows exactly what’s what in this department however, so she’ll soon let me know if it needs more work. I don’t really want to waste time uploading a manuscript which needs further formatting afterwards, so I want to get it checked before it goes to CreateSpace – just to be sure…

Anyway, besides that (and forgetting for the moment that e-book formatting awaits!), over the past couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed lots of bookish things – both MM related and otherwise.

Radio interview

First up, the lovely Denis McNeill interviewed me about the book on Q Radio – North Coast last week, and you can listen back to that below if you like!

Magical Masquerade page

I also created a Magical Masquerade page here on the blog, which will keep things like press coverage and so on all in the one place, and will include any updates on events etc.

 

The Ghastlingghastling

The Ghastling journal also flew in the door as well, so I got my hands at last on book five of this, which is packed full of spooky tales (my own included) and is just really well put together. Well worth a read!

 

Waterstones poetry competition

I was also delighted to hear that one of my poems was chosen by Waterstones Coleraine as one of 12 winners in their Women Aloud NI Poetry Competition.waterstones-wani

The poems are now on display in the store to celebrate women writers and you can find out more about Women Aloud NI’s 2017 events (happening this week!) by clicking the linked name above (in blue).

Women Aloud NI 2017

This week will be full of literary treats, as I’m taking part in a Women Aloud NI reading event in Derry on Wednesday evening. I’m also heading into Waterstones on Thursday to get photographed with the other winning poets, and then Saturday is the Women Aloud  NI trip to Dublin – #WomenXBorders. This will include an in-train recital from Belfast to Dublin, along with a readathon and panel discussions at the Irish Writers’ Centre when we get there, plus a mass reading to finish up. So, it will be a busy day for women writers in NI and the ROI!

women-aloud-events

So, all in all, there’s a lot going on, but it’s all good, it’s all on track, and I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

PS Thanks to the lovely Anna Macaulay, who gave me the beautiful yellow roses that the fullsizerender-16pup is inspecting at the top of this post … and to Liza Rae, for the gorgeous gem earrings and card. These weren’t expected at all, but are much appreciated pre-publication book gifts!

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BOOK TRAILER REVEAL!

I’m delighted to be able to share my book trailer for Magical Masquerade this week, which has been created by my talented cousin, Laura Crossett, over at Blurbox Media and Design.

Book trailers are a relatively new thing, I think, and can be done in all sorts of ways. Some authors like them, some don’t. It’s like everything I guess – each to their own. Personally, I think they’re another fun way to create awareness about your book – especially for children’s books – and I prefer trailers which are kept short and simple, and without any spoilers of course.

Anyway, I asked Laura to help me out with a trailer for Magical Masquerade and after we’d discussed our ideas, sourced the music and she put it all together in an animation, this is the final result! I love it – and I hope you do too.

Newspaper coverage

I was also very pleased to have last week’s school visit to Kilross Primary featured in the Mid Ulster Mail newspaper. You can read the story here if you wish. I’ve also been interviewed for another publication this week, with pics taken of both me and the pup, so stay tuned for more details on that!

Radio interview

I’m also looking forward to chatting with Denis McNeill about Magical Masquerade over on Q Radio this Thursday (February 23), which will be airing at about 11.25am to be precise and will last for about four minutes. Wish me luck!

Magical Masquerade book trailer

 

Credits

Animation: Laura Crossett from Blurbox Media & Design

Book cover design: Andrew Brown from Design for Writers

Book trailer soundtrack: Music from 3KTrack-Exclusive, purchased from Envato Market

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Author visit…

So, this week’s blog post is coming to you a little later on a rather blustery Sunday evening as I’ve just finished going over the final copy-edited manuscript of Magical Masquerade! (I say final, but we’ll not speak too soon…)

Anyway, it feels good to have that done as it’s getting closer to the time when I discover the joys of formatting and get to send off for my proof copies!

img_2281

With Principal Anne Crossett and the P5-P7 pupils of Kilross Primary

 

In the meantime, book proof or no book proof, I’ve already enjoyed my very first school visit as an author and I do say enjoy, because I found it really fun. On Friday I visited Kilross Primary School just outside the village of Tobermore, where I spent the afternoon with pupils in the P5 – P7 classes. They had prepared lots of questions for me and also came up with a good few on-the-spot ones as well, which was great.

img_0954I explained about the writing process and even got to act as teacher for a while, using the whiteboard to explain basic story structure and character profiles.

The kids then had a go at creating their own character and the beginning of a story, and I gave out a couple of notebooks and pens to the top two. Hopefully it will inspire them to keep writing! My attempts at homemade bookmarks for Magical Masquerade also seemed to go down well and each pupil got one of those to take away. The blow-up cover I’d printed off for them to see also seemed to go down well… Oh, and I read a couple of extracts from MM as well.

Next time, they’ll get a copy of the book for their school library. 🙂img_0964

This week I’ve also been working on another promo element for the book, which I’ll be sharing with you soon, so that’s something else to look forward too…

Meanwhile, aside from working on my own book, I’ve also acquired a fair few new books for my TBR, thanks to getting some vouchers for birthday and discovering a great book-tuber called Piera Forde, whose recommended reads are now (mostly) piled up in my living room.

I’ve also ordered my very first FairyLoot YA fantasy-fiction-themed subscription box, which will arrive in March and will contain a new release HB book along with a lot of bookish goodies. It also happens to be their one-year anniversary box, so is going to be that little bit extra-special. Can’t wait for this to arrive!img_0925

Going back to MM, I’m really very happy about all the lovely comments I’ve had since last week, when I shared the cover for Magical Masquerade, so thank you everyone for that. Although the countdown to actually getting my hands on a physical book is now closer than ever, I still won’t actually believe it until I see it. On that, however, I’ll definitely keep you posted. 🙂

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BOOK COVER REVEAL!

Today’s post is all about one thing really – revealing the book cover for Magical Masquerade!

Having been quite organised in this regard, the cover was actually completed before Christmas, but I was keen to get a couple of quotes for it, so decided it was best to (a) see if my chosen reviewers would agree to read the book and (b) see if they would say anything nice about it….

Why was this so important? Well, to me, it’s very important, as cover quotes often entice me to pick up a book by a new author, if I know of the writer who has reviewed the book, and like his or her work. I trust their judgement and take a chance on an unknown.

As a writer who is going down the self-publishing route and isn’t exactly a household name, I find that having cover quotes on my own books also gives me added confidence in my work. Authors I admire have read the book and agreed to associate their own names with it, which, let’s face it, they wouldn’t do if it was sub-standard.

Anyway, I was delighted that the two authors I asked to contribute a cover quote both agreed to do so and were both incredibly kind in what they said. I’ve just lifted an excerpt from their reviews for the front, but you’ll be able to read what they said in full when Magical Masquerade is published, as I’ll be including these within the book.

Cover contributors

Carlo Gébler is a multi-talented writer whose bio (like my other reviewer), you’ll just have to read online (if you click on his name, I’ve linked to one), as he’s done rather a lot when it comes to writing…. He was actually one of the first authors I ever interviewed, when I started my job as a reporter at the Coleraine Chronicle, and from the very start, I liked his forthrightness when it came to talking about writing as a career. He tells it like it is and doesn’t sugar-coat the realities of being a working writer. I liked that honesty.

I also really enjoy his writing, which varies from journalism and plays, to adult fiction and yes – children’s fiction (he’s a former Bisto Children’s Book Award-winner no less). I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to review MM or indeed, like it, but amazingly, he did and he did.

Felicity McCall is another writer who has an extensive portfolio, including journalism, YA (young adult) fiction and plays. Coincidentally, she also shares the same first name as my protagonist, which is in itself quite random, as Felicity isn’t a name I would say is very common! Felicity read the first chapter of Magical Masquerade a few years ago, when I attended one of her writing workshops at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. She gave very positive feedback then as well, and I was very happy when she agreed to contribute a few words for the cover.

So, my thanks to both Carlo and Felicity – and also to Andrew Brown from Design for Writers, who probably didn’t realise what he was letting himself in for when he agreed to do the design work! (I am nothing if not a perfectionist…)

Anyway, here it is – the cover. I hope you like it. 🙂

dfw-cs-mm-cover-mid

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Magical Masquerade

ink-316909_1280So … it’s the start of a new year and I’m happy to report that, aside from taking a few days off over Christmas to celebrate the season, I spent most of my time editing The Book. What’s more, my winter whittling shaved off a further 16,000 or so words from that, which I consider a definite result.

My book is aimed at what would be termed middle-grade readers, and is a fantasy story which, my research shows, provides more scope for length. Fantasy novels for any age just tend to be that bit longer, what with all the world-building and so on, so I think I’m on track, though there’s still time for more snipping before publication if needs be. My beta readers also said that when reading a fantasy book, they preferred something chunkier, which signified a story they could really get stuck into. So, we’ll see.

Introductions, please…. 

Before I go any further however, I thought I’d share something which probably should have been shared a little while ago now. Yes, that’s right – it’s maybe time now for a title??

In truth, my title has been in place more or less since I started hand-writing The Book quite a few years ago. It did undergo a complete revision at one stage, but I ended up reverting back to the original because I just felt it fitted what the story is all about and well, because I’m also an alliteration addict….

I’m still holding back on sharing the cover, as I need to get a further wee thing added onto that and would rather it was in its final form before I make it public (maybe I’m being precious about this but that’s just how I want to do it! Also, if any of you good people subsequently feel inclined to share it when I do put it’ out there’ [here’s hoping!], then at least the right version will be floating about the internet.)

Anyway, I hope I haven’t built this up too much, and if you’re an eagle-eyed sort of a person, then you’ll know the title already, as it’s also the title of this week’s blog post. Yep, you’ve guessed it. My book is called:

Magical Masquerade

I hope you like it.

If you don’t, then apologies, but that’s what it is. 🙂

fullsizerender-13

CreateSpace

Back to the business of book-making…. I’ve been re-reading my self-publishing manual over the holidays and New Year (which is Self-Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard, for those of you who are interested), and it’s been great. Again. Although there’s A LOT of work to be done in formatting the e-book and POD (print on demand) paperback once the manuscript is good to go, knowing what the things are that need to be done is better than not knowing (or forgetting), which just makes the process seem scary and impossible all over again.

So, thank you again Catherine for (A) blogging about all this stuff in the first place and (B) self-publishing a pretty cool book about it.

One thing I did forget though, was that Self-Printed isn’t written in the order that you’ll necessarily be doing things (which Catherine does make clear at the start). So, there’s some stuff in the final section for example, which is all about selling SP books, which you need to be aware of early on, as you’ve got to get certain things in place re promo etc., rather than waiting until the book is live on Amazon. This is why I read the book last year, but I forget things, hence the re-reads…

That said, I think I’m pretty much on track with most of the prep work, though much still needs to be done. I’m someone who likes to have lists and lists and yet more lists when doing pretty much anything in life – it’s just ordering them into a chronology that will ensure everything happens in a timely fashion which sometimes complicates things!

For example, while I’m going to wait until the finished book is uploaded to CreateSpace and I can order proof copies for myself and hopefully, some reviewers, if I want to get a quote for the cover, then an ARC (advanced reader copy) would be ideal. The book still needs to be in a near-final form to do this, however, so one has to think ahead for that. Have I got someone who’s actually agreed to do this…? Stay tuned my friends, and I’ll keep you updated. 🙂

The copy-edit

clockAs we speak, Magical Masquerade is back in the inbox of my editor, who will be working on the final copy-edit throughout January. After that I will take a couple of weeks to work through her feedback again and make the required changes. Then, once I’m happy the book is worthy of publication (!) I will format and upload the e-book and paperback interiors (and order my proof paperbacks), wait up to a week for these to be approved and then wait a further week or two for my proofs to arrive in the post.

After that, I’ll be happily spending a few more weeks poring over the paperback and once that’s finally cleared for publication, I’ll hopefully get, at last, to hit that ‘approve proof’ button on CreateSpace and release it into the world. (Though it’ll then still take a week or two to actually appear on the Amazon site).

This is the timeline, and I’m aiming for an April release of Magical Masquerade, BUT, I know plans are all very well, but things don’t often go to plan. The holidays are over and I’ve still got a copywriting business to run, while there’s bound to be some sort of hiccup when it comes to formatting the different book versions. (I just know there will be – I’m not a technical whizz!)

However, I do now actually have a CreateSpace account and have filled out my tax details and completed the required tax questionnaire for that. I’ve also got my trim size confirmed (i.e. the size of the paperback) and have downloaded my interior files template (which I’ll copy my manuscript text onto for formatting later), so it’s all getting more real by the second.

Oh – and I now have an ISBN, so it’s official. The Book is really real. 😉

What’s next?Q

Good question. A lot of stuff, but I’ll need to consult my ever-lengthening list and get back to you on that one. More details are definitely coming soon about my self-publishing journey though and … perhaps also a little snippet about the official launch? Well, maybe, maybe not. Suffice it to say, there will definitely be a launch, but details are under wraps for the moment, though discussions are ongoing, so I’ll share about that when I can!

In short story news, The Ghastling journal should be out this month, so I’ll post a pic of that when I have it. (I’ve got a story in it, in case you didn’t read my last post).

That’s all for now!

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Fairy tale feedback….

So … since last writing here, feedback has flowed in with regards to the book – both from my editor and from some helpful (and age-appropriate) beta readers. The short version is that all of this feedback has been very positive, but the long version is just that little bit more interesting….

My editor, who edits both children’s and adult’s fiction, was first to deliver her analysis. I’ve always understood the value of hiring an editor, but having now worked directly with one on my own novel, I really understand the value of hiring an editor. It makes my mind boggle as to why anyone would think they don’t need one – and I say this as a journalist, sub-editor/editor, creative writer – you just need an outside professional to look at your work.book-863418_1280

My book is still a bit long, so it definitely needs cutting some more, but this is where the elements of interest begin because, believe it or not, the passages my editor is suggesting could be chopped, are the very same ones my beta readers LOVE.

So, here we have a conundrum. I was reading my editorial report and agreeing with what my editor was saying. Some scenes possibly didn’t move the story along and could be cut (I’ll admit to having indulged myself in some lovely flowery descriptions throughout!), and although I really liked those scenes, I was prepared to axe them. (I don’t mind so much about ‘killing my darlings’, as Stephen King would say. 🙂 )

THEN, I met my beta readers, and was quizzing them on what they thought of the story. Did they have any favourite scenes? Did they think any were too long or boring? Their feedback would have been music to my ears up until a few days ago, but hearing how much they loved one rather descriptive scene in particular (which my editor said should definitely go), made alarm bells ring. Do I go with what the readers are telling me, who are, after all, my target audience, or with the professional editor who, let’s face it, knows exactly what she’s talking about??

Granted, my beta readers are but currently two people reading the book and are not representative of the mass populous of children. Also, my editor has her opinion, which is not necessarily the same opinion that another editor may have.

My own thoughts? Well, I want my book to read as well as it can, but I do also love those descriptive scenes myself, and I want to keep my readers happy… (assuming I get any more of them, that is!!). I suggested to the girls that I might be cutting some scenes, including the one they really like, and they looked positively aghast. One in particular was adamant I shouldn’t cut it, as it was her favourite so far. Oh, the irony….

I’ve got a very early start to Dublin tomorrow to meet my editor, so our morning coffee will no doubt include some interesting discussion, as I’m keen to hear her reaction to all this. It certainly threw me, but then, all I was wanting to hear from my betas was that they liked the book – I really hadn’t considered the implications if what they fed back differed vastly from what the editor said.

That ‘small’ dilemma aside … my editor has pointed out more than a few things which I now need to address within my manuscript and this is why I’m so glad I hired her. Despite leaving the book to rest for the past two years, I nevertheless still know the story far too well. I’ve also changed it around quite a bit in various edits since I started writing, and while I thought I’d tied up all those loose ends that referred back to stuff that was no longer in the text, it turns out, some of them slipped through the net.

Interestingly, my first few drafts also included a bit more back story, which I later cut out (for fear of stalling the story). Feedback from my editor however, suggests that some of this information needs re-introduced.mermaid-866581_1280

It’s great to get both a child’s and an adult’s perspective on the story though, as some things the editor is pointing out – such as my main character at times seeming to escape rather easily from certain situations – aren’t registering with the betas at all. They told me they thought the main character found herself in challenging situations and that it wasn’t too easy for her to escape them!

Obviously, an adult – and an editor to boot – will be reading the text more closely than a child who trusts you and just wants to get on with the story, but it’s interesting nonetheless to get these insights. I’m definitely taking on board all my editor has said and do think I need to tighten things up and make various changes. The great thing now however, is that with her feedback on particular points in the book, I now have a much clearer idea of what I need to focus on and why. The mist has lifted….

I’m also delighted that she thinks my writing is very strong and the pace of narrative is very good – though tension could be increased in some places. All of this information is ultimately helping me to create a better book.

As for my betas, well, I met them at the halfway point of reading – they’ve had exams and starting a new school to contend with recently – but I’m extremely heartened that they simply like the story so far. AND – they’re keen to keep reading it to the end and will let me know what they think of that.

They like the main character and identify with her. They think the story is ‘very creative’, ‘exciting’ and ‘mysterious’, and said it reminds them of Enid Blyton (not the same, they reassured me – but similar with regards to all the magical characters and going to strange places. I like this reference, as Enid Blyton was my favourite author growing up!)

They also said the chapters ended with cliff-hangers and made them want to read on. Oh, and let’s not forget – they like those flowery descriptions….

colorful-1312799_1280I may just have hit it lucky with these betas. Others of the same age may not like the descriptions, but it’s definitely food for thought. They’re also both 11 years old and have just started secondary school, so it’s great they like the book and think it’s ok for their age-group and isn’t too childish. My editor also thankfully agrees the writing style is age-appropriate. (It’s pitched at 8-11/12 year-olds).

I’ve already started making lots of fresh notes on the changes I want to make and the things I need to work on, but it’s exciting. I’m in the final stages of getting my book to a publishable format and Christmas will most definitely be filled with rewriting….

Of course, there’s a lot more to come after that, in terms of formatting etc. etc., but we’ll deal with all that when we come to it. In the meantime, the cover is almost signed off (that pesky blurb is nearly pinned down) and it all seems to be coming together….

 

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Do you feel the need to speed-read…?

booksIt’s halfway through my Christmas holidays and I have to admit – I’m flagging a little on my reading. But no worries – I’ve nearly finished the sprawling novel that is Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (which I’d forgotten I hadn’t quite completed…) and am edging onwards to the stack I’d set aside for the Yuletide period.

When I was growing up, I often read two or three novels simultaneously (my sister thought it odd and said it would make me mix up the stories… what can I say – it didn’t), but these days I tend to stick to one at a time. Well, almost – I had already started Catherynne M Valente’s latest offering while still immersed in Zadie Smith’s book, but it’s generally a one-off now.

Anyway, it got me to thinking of those crafty ‘speed-readers’ – those who can devour one novel or more in a day, despite being as busy as the rest of us. I was chatting to someone before Christmas who said this was what his wife was like – she can read a novel a day BUT (and there is a but!), ask her about the story the following day and, well, she struggles to recall it.

We’ve all read books which we just couldn’t put down, but (and maybe this is just me), even when I have a book like this, I still like to savour it. I enjoy the writing, the pace of the story, and just being sucked into the narrative. And if I do seem to read it ‘too quickly’, then afterwards, I’ll usually reflect on what I’ve just read.bookworm-151738_1280

My point (if a point here needs to be made!), is that we all seem to be in a rush to do everything all the time – and us readers do have ever-growing mounds of books to plough through – but there’s a lot to be said for diving into a story and just swimming about in it for a while. You can whizz through those pages if you like, but if you can’t remember much afterwards then for me, it removes some of the joy from reading.

I have a few more days off yet though, and I’m confident I’ll get the chance to savour a couple more of my holiday reads. All the same, whether you’re a speed-reader or not – enjoy those books and have a Happy New Year!

 

 

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