Countdown: Seven…

They say (“they” being writers, or anyone who has an opinion on the subject of being one, half-way informed or not) that there are certain benchmarks to be reached that indicate just how much of a Real Live Writer you truly are.

Writing Every Day is one of them.

Being Published (according to what other people consider that to mean) is another.

Being Rejected For Being Published is too.

Hopefully those aren’t a cumulative requirement, because at the moment I probably score about one-and-a-half out of three, and the one is in the rejection column. There are probably a whole lot of other criteria that I don’t qualify for either, but I don’t want to rain too much shit on myself so let’s draw a line under that for now.

Anyway, regardless of how seriously one might be taken as a writer, there are also considered to be certain benchmarks that indicate how close to finished a novel is. Writing The End on a page isn’t the last one, not by a long shot. For just under two months I’ve been “officially” editing the manuscript I submitted last October, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read my own story in that time.

First came the content editing. We did three full passes over the text, adding in here, taking out there–we discovered a gigantic no-no with one week to go (I’d contravened cardinal story-world rules) and had to scramble for a fix at the very last minute (found one!). It’s work, sure, but it’s still fun because it’s as much writing as anything else.

Next came line editing, and that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. Whereas the content editor was looking at the story, the line editor targeted mistakes and inconsistencies in grammar, formatting, all that good stuff. Instead of the larks of the previous weeks, now I had to read the whole thing line by line, comma by comma, to ensure I hadn’t secretly torn any pages out of the Chicago Manual of Style.

So I did.

A week ago I’d made the required changes, challenged the edits I didn’t agree with and sent it back for the line editor to review. She processed the changes and sent it back so I could read it all over again.

So I did.

And all was good! The manuscript was okayed and sent on to be transformed into the final version, ready for consumption. All that left was… the copy edit. One more pass before it goes to “press”, to make sure that nothing slipped through all the other times.

So I will.

But I have to say, after all that reading of my beloved story, I hate that thing now. Just the notion of going over it one more time makes my stomach turn and my skin crawl.

And THAT is how you know your novel is almost finished.

Either that, or you blink and discover the manuscript lying on the floor in a pool of lighter fluid, a lit match in your shaking hand… thank god for ebooks, eh?

Substitute a lap top for that printer and you’ve just about got the way I now feel about flipping the screen up and reading my god-damned novel one more time.

Countdown: Nine…

A week ago I finished the first edit of my novel and slotted it into Musa Publishing‘s internal document wrangling device. Then, exhausted and perspiring, I collapsed into a corner like a punch-drunk prize-fighter to desperately recover some energy in the brief respite before the second round.

Of course, I exaggerate. Editing actually proved a largely painless process, and I had no doubts that the manuscript was better as a result. The job was still unfinished–the questions I asked needed answering before I could continue, and any changes I had made needed to be vetted before they could be accepted–but all things considered the situation seemed rosy. The Glass Sealing was in good shape, and in a fit of unexpected motivation I even managed to carry my work ethic over into other projects.

Everything was going so well.

And then came…

Rampant Imperialism.

My editor broke the news: the powers that be had decided that, rather than fostering an atmosphere of transatlantic equality amongst their authors, the Darkside Codex was to use (I can hardly bring myself to type the words) American English Only.

Naturally, I lodged a vigorously worded letter of protest on the spot. I was cursorily informed that Musa Publishing proclaimed the incomprehensible right to defend the use of American English even outside the borders of AmericaI barely had time to reel from this shocking act of international injustice before I received the document with the editor’s second edits.

Never before have I seen so many Z’s. Never before has a chaise longue been a chaise lounge. Never before has the word “colour” looked so drab. Even with a wiggly red line beneath it.

No hyphen in my no-one.

Really, I don’t know if I can continue. I never thought I’d say it, but I may have to go back into English Teaching… British English.


Countdown: Ten…

About ten days ago, I received first contact from my editor (saying that feels absurdly nice: I have an Editor!), who introduced herself and let me know that she was already reading the novel–and enjoying it too. Though I imagine few working relationships begin with the words “Nice to meet you, you’re a talentless hack”, I have no reason to doubt her words, especially since she got in touch again to say she’d finished, she still liked it, and that it was time to begin…

The Editing Process.


That email was the first tick of the countdown: if all goes well, just over two months from now The Glass Sealing will be published (Andrew does a little dance). However, before then I will have to do a whole bunch of things I’ve never had to previously–or rather, things no-one else has demanded I do. Little dances possibly included, I’ve no idea–but let’s hope not, as the only thing less well-coordinated than me on a dance floor is my disco suit (this being Steampunk, probably what I ought to say is my formal evening wear. Doesn’t matter, I don’t have anything good there either).

My partner for the coming waltz (she’ll be leading) is Damien Angelica Walters, a genre author in her own right, with the horror novel Ink and a variety of short fiction sales to her name. A project development editor at Musa Publishing, creators of this shared world project, she has also been given responsibility for editing all the novels in the Darkside Codex to ensure continuity between the various writers contributing to the series. Sounds like a good idea, so what does that mean for me?

I’ve now received the “editor’s first edits” of my manuscript. My next job is to review them and respond with the “writer’s first edits”. Damien’s feedback ranged from the relatively trivial (typos, spelling errors and punctuation conventions that I missed or just got wrong) through the more significant (notes on theme and content that will help integrate my novel with the series as a whole) to the potentially problematic (slips in the point of view, superfluous scenes, confusing passages… damn). In this first round my responses could simply be a series of dis/agree statements so we can discuss the pros and cons of what she’s raised; however, there’s not much I can honestly contest so I’ll be modifying the text at this stage as well. 

Regardless, we’ll have this back-and-forth at least twice, followed by a meticulous line edit of the final galleys to sweep for overlooked mistakes. If anything slips through that net, I’ll have to live with it… but that said, my early impression of all this has been very positive and Damien has made sure these baby steps aren’t too intimidating. Of course, there’s more to come than “just” the editing–there’s cover art to develop and finalise, promotional strategies to put into action, breakdowns to recover from–but that’s enough procrastinating for today. I’ve got some reading and writing to do: full steam ahead

Thanks to Alexander “Steampunker” Schlesier for the image!