Somebody doesn’t want to kill me

A surreal experience: Editing one book whilst having one of mine edited.

A sense of relief: ‘My author’ doesn’t want to kill me.

The ‘Big Giveaway’:Is it ever worth it?

I have an idea: actually I have two ideas and am in three minds as to what I should do next.

A slightly surreal experience:

I’ve mentioned this before but I thought I’d expand on it. Did you ever have to hand in essays when you were at school/college/Uni? Remember when they were returned covered in red ink? What do you mean yours weren’t? What were you, some sort of smart-arse, pasty-faced book-wormy swot? I still remember a history essay I turned in at school. It was whilst I was in the Sixth Form, for non-UK readers that means I was between the ages of seventeen and eighteen and was in the last year of high school. I was not a good scholar. Schoolwork came a distant fifth to my main interests, namely flying, cars/motorbikes, beer, girls and due to my lack of success with the fair sex, more beer. Anyway, I casually flipped through the returned four A4 page essay, noting in passing the mark (grade), C minus and the opening comment, ‘if I could prevent you from taking this exam I would’ (the exam in question being an A level in History). The history master had a dry wit. He probably wasn’t exercising it on this occasion. At the top of the fourth page, in the margin on the left and running down the page, the letters ANT had been lovingly printed. ANT? The man had gone bonkers, what have ants got to do with, I think it was the Treaty of Vienna but I’m not certain.This was more years ago than I care to remember although no, it was not written in the immediate aftermath of said treaty which I believe was signed in 1815. I looked at page three. In the margin, running down the entire page were the letters REVEL. Reveling ants? Had my essay driven the man to drink? Some see pink elephants whilst others obviously see partying ants, perhaps. Intrigued  I looked at page two. Halfway down was the letter ‘I’. Just before the bottom I espied the letter ‘R’. Aha, so in his opinion two and a half pages of a lovingly-crafted, well researched four page essay were irrelevant. OK, I’m lying about the lovingly-crafted and well researched bit, the rest is true.

For those who don’t know, the process of editing a manuscript is similar to marking an A level history essay. Comments in red (or similar bold colour) are added to the margin for the author’s delectation. Most authors I suspect have an immediate knee-jerk reaction to this. The knee jerking up towards the editor’s groin. After that initial reaction, things calm down a bit but having had one bad experience with an editor who was not ‘in sympathy’ both with my writing style and the content, I viewed my returned first four chapters with some trepidation. All was well. The suggestions were sensible, the comments were pertinent and yes, I had made some typos. I rewrote a couple of paragraphs, changed a word or three in other places and sent the corrected manuscript back with the comment ‘a relatively painless experience’. Mind you, there is a long way to go.

Now, ‘my author’, who must remain nameless, is an established and previously-published writer. I have a strong suspicion that one of the previous books might have been the basis of a Hollywood movie but I’m not certain, haven’t asked and haven’t checked. The title is the same so it might just be a coincidence but the author-in-question has been quite prolific. I viewed my mass of red ink and paused for thought. The manuscript was not a genre that I would normally read for pleasure but that didn’t matter, this was business. The author was American, as were the characters and so the question of ‘two nations divided by a common language’ cropped up. What might be mistakes and what might be colloquialisms? With a suitably worded explanation I returned the first two chapters. Phew! All was well. The book had been previously released by a different publisher and, rights returned to the author, Solstice were now re-publishing it. The comment was made ‘I didn’t realise there were so many mistakes’. We are singing from the same hymn sheet and I haven’t upset or insulted the author.

The Big Giveaway:

Having done a long-overdue ‘edit and correct the bloopers’ on my first self-published book, Kittie Cracks Case I decided to make the eBook free for a week.This coincided with my getting involved with the ‘Solstice marketing Machine’ in promoting The Mysterious Dr LeMesurier and Eliezer’s Journey. Getting involved meant, amongst other things, becoming a more active Twit…or do I mean Tweeter? Be that as it may, with a ‘whole bunch’ of new followers due to Solstice’s efforts I thought that this was a good opportunity to try and bring the Karno books to the attention of American readers. As previously, very roughly sixty percent of the downloads were by those in the former colony and I had (have?) hopes of either generating some reviews or even better, some sales. Sad to say my hopes are as yet unfulfilled on both counts.

The actual figures were better than I had anticipated to be honest. I have thought for some time that the days of ‘freebies’ generating either large numbers of downloads and subsequent sales were over, a conclusion shared by most other self-publishers. One hundred and fourteen books were downloaded, eighty in the ‘former colony’, thirty in Blighty, two in Canada, one in Brazil and one in Italy. The last two came as something of a surprise and were probably mistakes! So then, where to go from here? It’s still early days to write-off any knock-on effect and for the moment I can remain hopeful. Anyway, I’m busy editing/being edited so that prevents any lengthy brooding. The marketing question does remain though. I have no idea as yet how or indeed if the Solstice-published tomes are selling. I should get the first report at the end of this month. Some people are getting involved in making video trailers or doing book readings on U tube.  Having neither film-star looks nor a soothing voice, I hesitate to do the same. Doubtless much to the relief of those who know me. Thinking trousers on and any/all suggestions welcome.

I have a cunning plot:

Two, to be strictly accurate. I have an idea for a follow-on book to The Mysterious Dr LeMesurier and a much more concrete idea for the final book in the Eliezer trilogy. I had held-off doing anything about the latter, waiting to see if sales of the first two books actually justified completing the trilogy but then the final book began to insistently take shape in my mind. I’ve decided to write a synopsis, see where I need to do some more research and then perhaps write the first few chapters. My notebook is full of ideas for the second LeMesurier but that is very much on the back-burner, unless of course it becomes a success. In the meantime, I have editing to both experience and carry-out.

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