Thursday, April 28, 2011

She is Almost Done

It's been awhile since I blogged about my writing progress. You're probably wondering how it's going...or not! I'm going to tell ya anyway.

To recap, I've written two novels during two consecutive National Novel Writing Months in November 2009 and 2010. A year ago, I had written, received feedback on, and revised my first novel She. I then decided to submit it to agents. Each agent likes a different way to submit. Some want just a query letter, others like pages too (usually the first ten pages of the manuscript), some want a synopsis on top of that. I wrote and rewrote and had others rewrite that query letter and synopsis. To no avail. I received no "bad" responses, no "your manuscript sucks," no "maybe if you tweaked it...," no "this is a good sleep aid." Nope, I received for the most part standard form rejection letters, that is, if I received a reply at all. Most agents aren't big on replying if it's a no. And since agents can take months to respond, you can't assume it's a no for about four months or so. I did receive requests for a partial or full, which is the agent saying I'm intrigued, but I want to see more first. After that, the "not for me" or "no one's publishing" or "it's not commercial enough" response.

So what's a gal to do?

I quit. I suddenly realised I'd spent almost a year futzing around trying to find an agent so I could then get a publisher and meanwhile my memory for what I'd written was disappearing fast. If I didn't get that thing edited soon, I'd completely forget what it was I wanted to say, never mind the storyline. On top of that, I was never comfortable with some publisher choosing the title of my book or the cover art. I've always felt that titles are a writer's prerogative, a writer's responsibility. After all, a title is the first word of a manuscript. Having some pinhead in the marketing department (or if I'm lucky, the editor working with me) deciding on my title repulses every bone in my body.

But the big question was who to get to edit it? And how do I pay for it? I took a stab at the latter by putting a PayPal donation button on the sidebars of my blog and website. May I digress a moment and ask if you would kindly consider making a donation to a good cause - the editing of my novel? Please? Pretty please with a sugar plum on top?

Anyway, I had a couple of choices: an editor here in Toronto, one I could work face-to-face with but would cost me the earth, relatively speaking -- worth it too, but tis a matter of available dollars -- or an online one that would cost much less. I suppose it was telling that I got sick as I was trying to make this decision.

As I do with anything I buy, I looked for reviews. I found none. Recently, I read JA Konrath's blog, looking specifically for what he had to say about CreateSpace's editing services. I finally found it, or rather his comment on editing in general when publishing an ebook. He doesn't have it done. Peachy. Real helpful. He relies on a writing friend to vet his ebooks. As a former editor, I ain't impressed. Only trained editors will pick up on stuff, from a missed serial comma to narrative threads dropped. Good readers will find much as well, but as with anything, if you don't have the training or experience, you won't do it as well as a professional.

Now Konrath and, I assume, his writing buddies have been writing and have been edited by traditional publishers for years and years, and so they will have experience. But for most of us...well, relying on equally inexperienced writer friends is why we get ebooks formatted like blogs with crappy grammar and all-over-the-map spelling and language usage. A good editor provides the single most important step in getting a book from manuscript to published.

In the end, I chose Bubblecow (will review later). I have now gone through the line edits (such as they were) and extensive overall and chapter-by-chapter reader notes. I've tweaked my novel and am done!

Well, almost. I just have to proofread. I did the same thing for proofreaders as I did for editors and found even less information. But now I see Konrath decides to talk about proofreading, after I looked around for reviews and what was available last week. Sheesh. Anyway, for purely monetary reasons, I and a friend will proofread She. As a former proofreader, I worry we won't do as good a job as a professional, but I kinda have no choice. As my friend said, as long as we catch the big grammar mistakes and typos, it should be fine. I agree, but the perfectionist in me is grumbling away of course. Perhaps I'll look at Konrath's recommended proofreader...

But before we get to that, I'm giving myself some space from the text and working on the cover. I know exactly what I want. I took photographs on Easter of the city skyline -- wow, is the CN Tower ever tall -- and now have all the elements I need to put together my cover. I've been working with my photographs in Corel Paint Shop Photo Pro X2 and X3 for years, so I'm confident I know how to do it...it's just a matter of being able to take what's in my head and putting it in the computer. It's at times like these I'd like to be in that ST:TNG society where if you thunk it, it was created!

The proofreading will take the longest amount of time. After that, I will format the interior for ebook publishing, add the cover art to the file, and publish!



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