For Readers, The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it Like…the day your book cover is revealed?

This is just a brief post through a blur of happy tears, and it’s aimed at you, those people reading my blog who have been climbing the same mountain of drafts and redrafts and rejections and workshops and  how-to books and support groups and critique sessions and are thinking I’ll never make it.  I know how you feel. I was there for a long long time, more than fifteen years. And all i want to say is, don’t give up, it is SO worth the tears and the trials and the long, long wait.

Most of you will have seen my beautiful book cover by now. Here it is, in all it’s glory, back cover included:

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It was revealed by SCBWI’s  own Vivienne De Costa on her book review blog Serendipity Reviews. Viv worked so hard to get an excited build up before the reveal and she tells me she had an amazing  200 hits in the first minute of the blog going live. Alongside this, Usborne YA Shelfies ran a really interesting piece on how Hannah Cobley, the cover designer, arrived at the final look.

Facebook and Twitter all went a bit crazy – I did absolutely no work ALL DAY. The book doesn’t come out until February 1st next year but people are already buying it on pre-order. I was skipping about and grinning like an idiot.  True, this was all about the cover, but there was also a lot of excitement about the concept of the book.

I don’t know what will happen when it finally comes out. The early reviewers have been really kind about it – did you read the quote from Teri Terry on the back cover?  That’s, Carnegie nominated, multi award winning Teri Terry who said my book was:

” Weird, wonderful and utterly fabulous”

Who knows what everyone else will make of it?!  It is weird, I know people might hate it but you know what, I love it. I probably shouldn’t say that, but it’s the truth. My editor, Sarah Stewart, has helped make More of Me a book I will always be proud of. And nothing, nothing can take away the joy of Friday. The ground swell of warmth and excitement across social media was extraordinary. I lost count of the number of tweets and shares and I know a lot of that will have come from my SCBWI friends.

Thank you, all of you. If this is your dream too,  please, please, don’t give up. If I can get this far, so can you.

PS. If you’re after more, erm, brutal motivation, look out for my Writercise Boot Camp post on Notes From the Slushpile on 9th November –  hosted in the grounds of Philip Ardagh’s Manor, Steve Cole will be putting you through your paces. there’ll be advice from guru Tanya Landman  and gentle coaxing from Agony Aunt Cathy Cassidy. It might all get a bit shouty – what can I say, Nanowrimo is coming up!

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like: Copy Editing (or taking constructive criticism when you don’t expect it).

Space for where my book will one day sit!
Space for where my book will one day sit!

I’ve done it, more-or-less. More of Me is finished – there’ll be the possibility of minor tweaks when the proof copies are ready but all the tough writing stuff is done, including the final stage, COPY EDITS.

My Facebook pals, and worse, my Twitter followers (why don’t they let you edit tweets? I never see my mistakes until it’s too late!) will suspect any copy editor  of mine deserves a medal. My typos are disgraceful but I was very careful with my script. I spell checked until my fingers bled before I sent it off, but there were still things that came back needing correction. Some of which, for the first time since the edit process began, rankled.

It wasn’t the formatting things:

‘Speech marks’ should be “speech marks”.

Indentations should be

Indentations.

It was questions like this, “Why is Teva pretending to be dyslexic”:

She’s supposed to be good at English – offering to help Ollie and agreeing to help Tommo – not the most convincing excuse?

Now, if Sarah, my wonderful editor, had written that, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all – so why did I have a niggle of irritation?

Maybe because I’m vainer than I think? And also, more stupid? Sarah tempered her critiques with  a lot of back patting so, even if her comments meant a ton of work, I didn’t mind. We were making a better book. It was all good.  There was no back patting from the  copy editor. This was a sweep through the mansucript picking up any outstanding issues. And instead of being grateful for this last chance to get things right, this fresh pair of eyes on my work,  I was thinking:

“But you don’t know me, you don’t know my book.”

I was, to put it bluntly, being an arse. Everything the copy editor raised was valid – how could it not be, it was her professional opinion? And I needed it – if she didn’t understand what I was trying to say, I had better go back over it and work out why.  So I did, and quite often she was right – and now, of course, I’m grateful to her attention to detail.

I’m grateful, too, that it got me thinking about my own response to constructive criticism. I’ve always thought I was pretty good at it – you know, not too precious but fairly steady in my own self belief. Clearly, not so much.

This was timely in more ways than one. My beloved SCBWI critique group has been having a heart to heart – when we started out, none of us were published. We had no real deadlines and no one to please but ourselves. We could be gentle with our critiques, and rightly so – the first rule of critique is:

Do No Harm

But now many of us have, or nearly have, agents and publishers and a firm, critical, honest eye might be the difference between success and failure – or a shed load of work further down the line. We’ve moved up a level and our critiques need to follow or we aren’t being fair to each other.

There comes a point when you  need to lift your chin  and listen.You might not agree with what’s being said, and that’s fine, but do listen, then take a breath, and listen again. It’s quite likely, no matter how hard it is to take, that there’s something you should be hearing.

Critque group meeting
A rare meet up of some of my YA Critique Group

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The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

SCBWI-BI Conference – Is it Worth It?

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Protecting Wonderful Author,  Fiona Dunbar’s Modesty: Conf 2010

The annual SCBWI British Isles conference is open for booking and I didn’t hesitate before signing up. I’ve hardly missed one in years – in fact I’ve been trying to remember if I’ve missed one. Sadly, no one has helpfully produced a list  so I can’t tick them off. Continue reading “SCBWI-BI Conference – Is it Worth It?”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it Like: Writing Those Pesky Acknowledgements

I’m a new girl at this publishing lark. And a not very cool one at that. I get quite giddy and gushy and over excited at all manner of things. Understanding this about myself, I observe what the great and the good say and do in order to inform my own behaviour – I don’t want to look like a twit,do I? Continue reading “What’s it Like: Writing Those Pesky Acknowledgements”

The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it Like: Author Photographs Part Two – the destruction of 50 Shades!

A little follow up to my previous post. Bristy the photographer, who loves to tell a story as much as I do,  suggested this shot and I was horrified – tear up a book? An actual book? Never. And then I remembered, I’d bought a copy of 50 Shades of Grey.  I honestly tried to read it – THREE TIMES. Gave up every time. The world is full of these books – it wouldn’t miss one…what fun we had!

Leaves.
Leaves.
The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like:- Author Photographs – To Edit or not to Edit?

Me and my adorable stinky dog, Diesal.
Me and my adorable stinky dog, Diesal.

I should preface this post with a brief explanation. Those that know me will realise I am a bit of a show off, quite happy in front of a camera. However, those that know me really well, will also know that I’m not a huge fan of posing for photographs for long periods of time. Continue reading “What’s it like:- Author Photographs – To Edit or not to Edit?”

Crazed Author in Panic
The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

What’s it like?….Phase Two of the Editing Process

Regular readers will gather, from the huge gap in posts, that Phase 2 of Editing More of Me has been somewhat more stressful than Phase 1. There are a number of reasons for this: Continue reading “What’s it like?….Phase Two of the Editing Process”

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The Publishing Process, Writing Advice

Writer’s Tips: Building Ordinary Worlds

Some writers seem to have a knack for world building, Ellen Renner does it to perfection in Tribute, her world is textural , you can feel it, smell it, sense it. Philip Reeve and Sarah Macintyre are masters at it – in Oliver and the Seawigs and Cakes in Space they use words and pictures to create crazy worlds that are completely, somehow, incredibly, believable.

How? How do they do that? Continue reading “Writer’s Tips: Building Ordinary Worlds”