T. A. (Trevor) Williams talks about all the rest of it…
It’s a great feeling when you finally write The End on the last page of your manuscript and head off to the fridge to open that bottle of champagne that’s been in there for a good while. But, when you surface a few days later, once the hangover has receded, the real hard work starts.
First, you’ve got to edit what you’ve written. With my latest book, What Happens at the Beach… , I added over 3,000 words the first time I revisited the book I had just finished. This wasn’t just seeking out typos (why do I keep leaving out the first letter of the? Spellcheck doesn’t mind, but the reader will) and turning commas into full stops. This wass also inserting description, tweeking dialogue to make it more natural, checking the chronology of the book (how come they go to the party on Friday night, but the previous day was a Wednesday?) and making sure I hadn’t inadvertently used the name of one of my characters from a previous book instead of this one. It’s surprisingly easy to make that mistake.
Then the book goes off to my editor and I wait anxiously for her verdict. This usually comes back in the form of a three or four page document full of “suggestions” – and we all know what that means. These can range from the most simple, “why not give Henry an Oxford accent?” to more complex changes like, “Three men vying for XXX’s affections is too many. How about removing YYY?” And so I then have to set about erasing the existence of poor old YYY forever. Oh yes, and then there are names. In my last book, What Happens in the Alps…, my editor felt that the main male character’s name wasn’t “alpha” enough. The name I had chosen was Jimmy. I spent a whole day looking for a suitably macho name before hitting upon Matt. Luckily, all I then had to do was to click edit/find, type in Jimmy and then click replace and type in Matt. Voila! 676 changes made in the blink of an eye. But it all takes time.
Then it goes back to my editor again and, if I’m lucky, she accepts the changes and sends it to somebody with those little half glasses, probably wearing a cardigan, who checks spelling, punctuation and so on. I used to be an English teacher so I’m not too bad on the grammatical side of things, but I did object to one copy editor a couple of years ago who went through my manuscript taking out every passive and changing the sentences to the active voice. Erm, excuse me… it was in the passive for a reason… . The edited version comes back to me (Harper Collins refer to that stage of the procerss as AAs – author amendments, I think that stands for) with every change tracked so I can accept or refuse them. All joking aside, these copy editors do a great job and by the time the book goes off to the digital boffins, it’s normally pretty well perfect (although I guarantee I’ll find a mistake the first time I read the finished article on my Kindle).
And that, you might think, is that. Sit back and wait for the glowing revues and the mountains of royalties to start flooding in. Wrong. Now begins the social media blitz with a blog tour and tweets flying around all over the place, Facebook posts, talks to the local Women’s Institute and so forth. Oh, yes, and that means writing blog posts for lovely bloggers who feature me on their blogs. Thank you!
Many thanks to Trevor for this look behind the scenes Guest Post!
As you are probably aware by now, I’m participating in the ‘What Happens at the Beach’ book release blitz and tour! If you would like to see other posts you can find them under the T. A. Williams tag!