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DonHartshorn.com

All about the author and his current work

Category: Publishers

The Guilty Die Twice

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My novel has a new title!

As is fairly common, my publisher retains the rights to re-name my work. This is actually a good thing for me because:

  • They have a finger on the pulse of the market and can come up with a title that will grab eyeballs and sell.
  • I suck at titles.

At first the new title didn’t send me. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. Over the past week, however, I have come to like it. It’s got a noir feel to it, and while my novel is decidedly not Chandleresque, in the plot there are a lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, so I think the title is appropriate. Maybe even a little foreshadowing.

My publisher came up with a new title, sub-title, and series title. Yes, this is a series, at least three books. I’m working on the outline for the second book right now.

Title: The Guilty Die Twice
Sub: A Legal Thriller
Series: Brothers in Law Series

Since dev edits are done, we’re closer to a publishing date. I’ll keep you posted on when that might be. A few more months at least, I think.

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Dev Edits – my first feedback

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Publishing News: I got the developmental edits back this morning! Now I have something I can do! Yay me!

I you have a moment, you can review developmental edits.

My publisher returned to me three items:

  • Editing letter – where the editor explains his edits in general, and what he’s looking for me do with my turn at the manuscript.
  • A marked-up copy of the edited manuscript – where all the changes the editor made are highlighted for me, so I can see what he did and digest any notes he may have left in the margins.
  • A clean copy of the edited manuscript – a copy for me to perform my edits on. There are some markups still in it, but not as many as the other copy.

I read over the editing letter, fully anticipating being outraged and offended. I was not. I agree with everything my editor said, and I will fully comply with his wishes.

To be honest, I’m a little disappointed that there’s not more drama here. I kind of wanted to exercise a little righteous indignation, to rage against the machine. Oh well, maybe later.

My editor has four items he’d like me to work on. In dev edits these are big-picture items, not missing apostrophes or participles dangling.

  • Ellipses – I use these to indicate hesitation and uncertainty in dialogue. My editor wants me to cut a third of them, at least. This is the part where I might get a little touchy, but if I’m overusing ellipses and they distract from the narrative, I need to get rid of many of them.
  • Over-stating my themes – Yeah. I do that. Fair criticism.
  • A big fight scene feels staged – I agree. I’ll work on making it feel more dynamic and emergent rather than long-anticipated and planned.
  • A character’s big change – my editor would like to see this character remain unapologetic and unrepentant until several books later. I agree. This character is too valuable as a foil to change so soon. In my defense, I originally wrote this book as a one-off, I hadn’t planned other books. Now that I am planning more, this is a necessary change.

I have 14 days to do my edits and hand my edited copy of the manuscript back. I am going to use every hour of those 14 days. I feel good, I think this is going to go well.

Big Plus – it looks like my editor and I are in synch. A good writer needs a great editor, and I think I got one. I took a quick look at some of his notes in the marked-up version, and, so far, I agree with them all. To quote Rick Blaine, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Big minus – I have to work in MS Word. I do my writing in Pages, not just because it works so much better than MS Word, but because in my day job I use MS products almost exclusively and I am not a fan. Bloatware. Look it up. Or click the link. So maybe this is my ‘rage against the machine’ moment. Curse you, MS Word! From Hell’s heart I stab at thee!

I’ll have more next week, after I really dig into these edits. I’m sure I’ll find some nit-picky things to complain about.

 

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The Schedule – we got a ways to go

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I got an email today regarding the schedule behind getting my novel published. As you may have guessed, it’s a lengthy process, an estimated 38 weeks. That’s a lot of weeks. I’m sure I can short-cut some of that because I’m highly motivated and can get my part of the schedule done under the estimated time. That still leaves others and their workloads to consider, though. I only have to worry about me, the publisher has to worry about me and everybody else in their pipeline.

There are seven (7) caveats the publisher puts right up front, before outlining the schedule.  These include things like larger project volume (more books in the pipeline), or complicated formatting requirements, or… author problems.  They don’t say ‘author problems’ but that’s what they mean.  More time required by the author than estimated = ‘this guy’s taking too long’ and Changes requested by author at a later stage of the project = ‘author suddenly realized he wasn’t taking this process seriously enough at the beginning.’  I get it, authors are the major barrier to getting a book published.  The whole enterprise would go so much smoother without them.

Be patient, be kind. That’s my mantra when I go to the grocery store, it’ll be my mantra with this process, too.

So what’s the schedule look like?

Contracts – 4 weeks
Developmental edits – 5 weeks including author and publisher time
Copy edits – 5 weeks including author and publisher time
Edit review – 1 week, publisher
Proofread, second editor – 2 weeks, publisher
Proofread review, author – 1 week, author
Print formatting – 1 week, publisher
Kindle formatting – 1/2 week, publisher
Formatting quality check = 1/2 week, publisher
Print and Kindle review, author – 1 week
Proof copy upload and order (I’m not sure what this means) – 1 week
Marketing and trade reviews – 16 weeks

Whew! My manuscript is going back and forth over and over again! If I’m counting right, SIX TIMES! No wonder the publisher puts a lot of language in their contracts to protect themselves, that’s a ton of work on spec. Imagine if I were a writer who didn’t know what compromise or collaboration were, I’d drive the editors crazy. I understand collaboration, but that still doesn’t mean I won’t drive the editors crazy. I’ll just try to be polite about it.

It looks like 22 weeks (-ish) for the process to reach a final product.  That’s 5 months, or somewhere in February for a release.  I’m guessing.

The first thing I want to know: what’s the difference between developmental edits, copy edits, and proofreading? Luckily, the publisher spells that out for me. I’ll fill you guys in on the details in my next post.

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Previous  The First Deliverables

Next Changes? The Editing Phases

The First Deliverables – checklist, manuscript, headshot

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I got assigned my first deliverable this week. I have 14 days to hand everything over, but homey don’t play that. I’m not screwing around here, I finished in 2 days. They wanted:

  • A filled out copy of their Author Checklist.
  • The most recent version of my manuscript in .docx format.
  • A professional headshot.

The Author Checklist. No problem. At first. The doc mentions attached documents but they’re actually links. Download the links. Answer the questions, like ‘how do you want your name spelled’ and ‘what are good phone numbers’ and ‘include links to your author website.’ No issues… except… there are references to an ‘About The Author’ section in my manuscript. My manuscript doesn’t have one of those. I check the Internet (thanks Al Gore!) and don’t find anything. I decide that I’ll roll with the punches and just create an About The Author section and include everything that the Checklist seems to think should already be there. I hope I don’t miss anything, I hate re-doing work because of my own oversight. So far I’m knocking the Author Checklist out of the park.

Then I come across the item that asks for 6 alternative titles. (cue dramatic overture) Everybody should know their limits, and I’m terrible at titles. The worst. The fact that this novel has even one title is a miracle. They want SIX MORE?!! Okay… fine. I’d been zooming along with this until ‘extra title time’ came along. An evening turned into two days. I worked at it sincerely, no half-assing anything, and I got six alternative titles. But I’m sure they suck. Suck-diddly-uck. Let’s see what the publisher thinks, but I need to assure them I’m not sandbagging, I really do suck at titles.

The most recent version of my manuscript. Got it, no problems, except for that whole ‘About The Author’ page business. The publisher takes care to point out that the author will not be able to make any changes to the manuscript until the editors are done with their edits. I guess they’ve had issues with people continuing to edit their work AFTER they’ve turned over a ‘final’ copy. I got no issues with that. Done is done, at some point you have to declare it finished and walk away.

A professional headshot. I think this may be the part that trips up most writers, and might be the reason the publisher gives two weeks to get this exercise done. They don’t want a snapshot, or a crappy crop out of a larger picture, they want a professional headshot suitable for inclusion on the back cover of a book. I can see where this might generate a bit of a panic in normally-introverted writers, who might not have sunlight kiss their skin for days at a time.

I used to be a working actor. I got headshots. I got headshots in casual wear, I got headshots in office attire, I got headshots in Hawaiian shirts, I got headshots in ‘tradesman’ attire. If you want a headshot, I got every casting possibility covered.  Except sherrif, I never got a headshot in any costume.

I picked one in a nice tweed jacket because tweed just screams ‘serious author.’ Also, I’m not smiling like a serial killer. Which is nice.

First deliverable – AWAY!

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Previous The Contract – part 2

Next The Schedule

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