Monday, 25 August 2014

The Writing Process

When that magic moment happens, and you've signed your first contract of publication, you feel on top of the world. But then.... the work really begins. Somehow your manuscript is converted into a commercially published book, but there are various stages along the way.

Every book has a few amendments to make before it finds its way onto the press. A in-house editor from the publishers will work with you to ensure the book is in its best shape before it lands into the hands of the reader. If you find your editor's comments upsetting, give yourself time to relax and think carefully. Everyone wants the same thing, the best book. They're all on your side, even if it may not feel like that. So, count to ten, calm down and think objectively. After all, that's what the editor is doing, thinking objectively. Your reaction is only so wild because it's your own sweat and toil that has gone into it so far. Now it's time to be professional. Of course, you should discuss things with your editor, but don't forget that they're the experts in the industry. They know what sells, and why.
Polish your dialogue. It can help build pace, sustain suspense and bring your characters to life. Double check your structure. Ensure everything plot point hangs together and check for inaccuracies. Is your book readable? Strange question but a valid one.

The Final Check
When all the re-writes are complete, it's time to proof read and check. Whilst a professional proof reader will read your manuscript, more than once, you should also take time to carry out this task. After all, you're the writer, you know what should appear on the page. Remember to check every spelling, even those you think you can write with your eyes closed. Punctuation is important. There will always be a reader who knows it back to front, and punctuation mistakes can annoy the reader. If you're too close to your project, step away for a bit (as long as you can, given the deadlines!) and return with a fresh pair of eyes.

Marketing - your brand
If you remember nothing else from this blog, let it be this. NEVER tell your marketers anything you wouldn't happily share with the world. They want to know about you, the author. In this day and age we tend to share everything via social media networks. That brings with it joys, advantages and pleasures, but it also brings danger and a lack of privacy. Remember, share only what you're happy to. Marketers know how to market books, and they will want to use any snippet of information you're happy to give them. They are people like you and I, and they will respect your privacy, but ultimately they're doing a job so be wise from the start. It pays to think about your "public image" or "brand" in advance. Know what you want to tell the world, and be consistent.

The Cover
It's an exciting time when you first see images of the proposed cover for your book, and in particular your first published novel. Your publishers graphics team will devise the book cover based on the back cover blurb and your combined ideas. The artists may not have read the book so the authors input is essential here. Look at it objectively and think about what it says to a fresh pair of eyes. Ask someone for their first impression. It's surprising how often people see different things.

Public Relations
It's generally thought best not to confess to the following:
  • I'm hopeless with technology
  • I can only write when, it's quiet/I'm in the mood/I have two cups of tea and stand on one leg
  • I'm a terrible public speaker, very shy, an introvert
  • I don't want to do book signings, events, interviews
  • I hate social media
These are sure turn off signs. Even if the above are true for you, don't admit it! You need to remember that you're a professional now. Keep your public image separate from your private life and manage it, just like any other business. Consistency is the key. Even the most introverted of us can manage to speak or conduct an interview, if we put our minds to it.

Good luck!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The Synopsis

It's a tough call but we all have to write the synopsis. It's not as difficult as you think. Having said that, you need to write it with dedication and thought. Redraft as often as necessary until you're happy with it. The point of a synopsis is to tell your proposed publisher or agent what the book is about. Only they, and you, will read it. It's not for the general public.
If you're polished your manuscript to an inch of its life and you've written your synopsis, you're probably ready to submit to your chosen agent/publisher. What then....? You wait. Then you wait some more.
Agents and publishers are busy people. They receive thousands of submissions every year and can only take on a small percentage of those. If you receive one, two, three, forty, four hundred rejections then you may have to consider the possibility that something's not quite right with your work. There are various reasons why this might be. Here are just a few:
  • Your work isn't good enough - harsh but possibly true.  Have another go and study the marketplace. See what's selling well in your chosen genre, study that and see if you can learn anything from the authors already making a success of writing.
  • There isn't a market for your work. Is your novel a cross-genre? Think about where it would fit on the book shop shelves. If you're struggling to answer that question, chances are, the agent/publisher is also struggling, and therefore can't sell your work on easily.
  • The agent you've chosen doesn't have an immediate place to sell your work to.
  • The publisher you've chosen is already committed to too many other authors at present and has no space to take you on.
Read interviews by other authors. They've all had a long journey, even those who appear to have arrived overnight. It's not an easy job, but it's very rewarding so don't give up. Keep going and trying hard, and one day you'll get there.

The Moving Writer

Writing is a sedentary job, but we need to move. Take exercise every couple of hours or so. Move your limbs. Ideas to keep yourself moving include, wrist rotations, shoulder rolls, spinal twists and bends both forwards and sideways. Twist from the waist and bring your legs up one at a time onto your knee, raise your legs, rotate your ankles and feet.

Anything is better than nothing, but be careful. Don't suddenly leap up if you've been still for a while. Get up gently and build up your movement to avoid shocking your muscles.

With any luck, most of us take regular exercise as part of our daily lives. Housework even counts as being active. If you play a sport, belong to a running club, dance school, attend a gym or even just like hoping along to an exercise DVD at home, all the better. Exercising the body also keeps our minds alive and fresh.

If you're in any doubt, ask for medical advice and/or consult your GP. This blog takes no responsibility for any injury caused. Always seek medical advice from a qualified professional before commencing a new exercise routine.

Top tip: If you're not a fan of exercise, try dancing.

Genre Types

There are various crime fiction types within the genre. It's a wide platform and the best selling genre of the day. Which ones do you like best?
  • The police procedure is as realistic to policing as the author can make it, whilst applying poetic licence to suit the plot. Authors writing in this genre will most probably have spent time with the police, will certainly have asked for guidance from the authorities, and the central characters are often in the police force. It's quite complex in places and takes a specialist skill to do it well. The central character will often deal with more than once case at a time - just as the real police have to.
  • The medical thriller is a hospital based suspense story, with a crime linked to the characters there.
  • The forensic thriller is an ever popular option these days, following pathologists and other medical experts working with victims of unexplained deaths.
  • Modern Private Investigators are usually former police men or security experts, and often alone, hired by individuals to find someone, or solve a mystery/crime that the authorities have either forgotten about or can't handle.
  • The legal thriller is often a court-based novel, where the action is largely inside the court room, but could possibly incorporate flashbacks to scenes of crime etc. Authors of this type of novel will, hopefully, have studied the legal world carefully.
  • Cosy mysteries often have amateur detectives, ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation. A good example of this is Agatha Christie's 'Miss Marple'.  The modern day author of these kinds of novels must have a character who is well placed to come across crimes, and will have access to lots of people. Usually they are small towns or villages, where people tend to know each other better than urban dwellers of the city.
  • The military thriller is usually based around MI5, Mi6, American CIA or FBI etc. Professional spies and action packed tales. James Bond is the best example of these, or Tom Clancy's 'Jack Ryan'.
If you're starting a career in writing, read widely and decide early on what type of book you want to write. Remember, this could make all the difference when you submit your work to publishers/agents.