Birth of a Book

I'm not the first to describe the process of having your first novel published as similar to the concept of giving birth, and I won't be the last - because that's how it feels.

There's finding that partner - a great agent - to support and believe in you. The publisher plans for the best delivery of your book into the world and that 30 week scan puts a face (a book cover) on the book baby.

Working out what to name the baby is another happy problem and in my case Game Face became The Harper Effect. Then, all too quickly, after much preparation and worry, the delivery happens and the writer has given life to a concept, a story world, a handful of characters that are so real they're practically living on the same street. Suddenly your baby is out in the big wide world and that's when you realize you'll never stop worrying about that baby, no matter how old they get!

Lol. I'm a nut, I know. But this did seem like a good place to share what happens after you sign that contract with a publisher, in my case Pan Macmillan. So watch this space and please feel free to ask me any questions. I'm here to share...

So in the interests of getting on with that sharing, Macmillan, like any great publisher, has a very thorough editing process. First I was given an editorial letter from the publisher which was quite general and broad-reaching. I was pretty happy that a lot of those red comments in the side bar were compliments, not only corrections :) That edit was completed over six months ago.

Then came the structural edit which, as the name suggests, looked at the structure, but also broader issues like deepening characterization. Then came a further edit from the editor who works with the publisher which felt like a back up to the structural edit. And now the copy edit. This is less 'big picture' and more sentence and word level. The process of editing is often likened to a funnel - wider, big issues level, down to the narrow part of the funnel with word level corrections.

I have to say I've enjoyed the editing process very much. There's something satisfying about refining, tightening and perfecting a manuscript. It's like carving a piece of art, shaping every nuance, no matter how tiny, so that the end product is as good as it can be.

After that copy edit landed, I did have some laughs with my editor due to some little anomalies in the story. For instance, I'd had a character unpack their bags in one scene, only to describe his bag still bulging with clothes two pages later.

That's the kind of stuff editing picks up on. They check you have timelines straight, seasons correct, that traveling across the country takes the right amount of time, and little nuances like someone can't fry bacon, chop mushrooms and wash spinach in the space of saying one sentence. I love my editorial team!

With the launch looming faster each month there's a lot coming up in the next few weeks, I'm told. From choosing a book cover to the final proofread. Watch this space for more info and please feel free to fire any questions at me.

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