Hello again! (Thought you were rid of me, didn’t-cha?)
Sorry for the delay… again. News comes in dribs and drabs, you wait for enough little things to pile up just to have enough to write about, and before you know it everything has happened… almost.
So where were we?
The last time I checked in (*cough-cough*-months ago), I had signed on with self-publishing agency, and I was about to submit my FINAL final manuscript. In fact, I submitted it that very day, along with the book set-up, namely choosing the book’s trim size, colour options, cover finishing for paperback and hard cover, etc. I’d also just been issued an ISBN.
Yes, the proverbial shit was getting real!
One week after that last entry, I got an email saying the manuscript had been reviewed and was ready for the editing process. I’d asked for a simple copy edit, which means correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax, and ensuring that everything remains internally consistent. A content edit, meaning an evaluation of the formatting, style and content of the manuscript, was (given the size of my opus) beyond my budget. There was a quick questionnaire to fill out (√ Done) and they’d get right on it. I figured it would take them at least 3 weeks.
Meanwhile there was another questionnaire for the cover design. That was simple enough, seeing as I’d already created the cover myself. I simply entered “Will provide cover art” and attached the final design (front, back, and spine) and all its constituent parts in case, for some reason, they had to rebuild it. It was sent back to me for final approval on January 30th.
In early November, I received what I initially thought was the finished copy edit (the timing was about right) until I looked more closely: it was an editorial evaluation from my editor which (although I’d paid for it) I was completely unprepared for. What if, after all this time, they thought it sucked? What if, after 6 six years, they said “These are the over-wrought ramblings of a self-important amateur! It’s pedantic and derivative. Start over!” I couldn’t handle that. It took me three days to muster the courage just to open the email.
When I read the first paragraph, I almost I wept:
This is a very well-written, compelling and satisfying work of fiction. There is a beauty to the language and the themes of love and friendship, transcendence and coming of age that make this book stand out. The characters are very real and sympathetic, and the pacing is good for the most part, never slowing down too much while lingering just long enough to set the tone and atmosphere that make this story so evocative. The plotting is well executed, with equal time allotted to the two main story elements: the murder mystery and the supernatural/sci-fi thread embodied by Billie. There is a very strong sense of setting and a distinctly Canadian flavour to this work that make it familiar and nostalgic—a pure delight to read as a Canadian who can relate to the peculiarities and nuances of small-town French-Canadian culture. Overall, this book is in very good shape to move forward to the copy-editing stage.
The editor then went on to break down the main aspects of the novel (story, plot, characters, dialogue, grammar). Criticisms were constructive and invariably spot-on. She concluded with this:
This is an exceptionally well-written, well-plotted, poignant story with extremely likeable characters and a great degree of style. The sense of setting and tone is strong and consistent throughout. The emotion is real and keenly felt. The constructive criticism provided speaks to minor issues that are only pointed out as the overall quality of the manuscript is so high. A copy edit will clean up the small technical issues and ensure a professional-calibre product.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to offer some assistance. I look forward to reading this again at the copy-editing stage!
She loved my book, but more importantly she GOT my book! I want this person to be my friend for life!!!!
The final copy edit came in early December (√ Done), followed by a layout questionnaire for the interior. On January 23rd, I received the first interior layout draft. For the most part I loved it, but some of my very basic instructions somehow weren’t getting through, and we ended up going back and forth for 3 weeks. I signed off on February 12. (√ Done)
A month-long work hiatus put everything on hold, then about a week I finally got to the tasks related to distribution, that is figuring out the pricing for hard cover, soft cover, and e-book, and the book’s categorization, deciding on key words, audience, and general category.
√ Done and √ Done!
Now, the very last thing will be marketing, something that tightens my insides just a bit: with the possible exception of multi-tasking, there’s nothing I am worse at than self-promotion. There’s yet another questionnaire, asking me how much time and $$$ I’m willing to invest in the promotion of the book (hmmm… yeah, OK), if I’m willing to travel (are we talking Vancouver or Mississauga?), how comfortable I am with public speaking (Oh! I can do that!!!), organizations in my nice market who will declare my book a must-read (uhhhh….) and stuff about media outlets, blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, that align with my book (HELP!!!!).
Forget a literary agent: I need a teenager in my corner, someone who knows the ins and outs of social media on the interwebz. Eeeesh…
A phone call with a marketing rep from the agency will follow to discuss strategy, but the book as such is ready to go. Everything related production and distribution is complete, so there’s nothing stopping it from appearing on Indigo or Amazon in the very near future.
So this is almost it, or at least the first half of my journey, the easy part. The second half is terra incognita: pitching, reviews, readings, signings, launches, maybe even an interview or two, and generally a whole lot of talking about writing.
It’s really happening, folks!