So I had signed the publisher’s contract, and now I found myself at the mercy of a publication process that I knew very little about. And a process that demanded things of me.
I had to supply a ‘blurb’ (How do you possibly describe 65,000 words in less than 120, and in a way that would make people want to actually read your book?)
and a ‘bio’ (Finding something interesting to say about yourself is a difficult thing, believe me. It was painful.)
‘Oh, and by the way, can you send in a photo?’ – ‘Of the dog? Please? No, oh, of me? Really? Do I have to?’ I delayed that one as long as possible! Eventually giving into the inevitable. They wanted an Author’s picture, to be shared with the world. I smiled knowingly as my husband took it, trying to look intense and interesting.
It was hard going back to my manuscript with a critical eye but I had work to do on it to prepare it for editing. There was great guidance provided, and lots of encouragement. So I got my head down and worked through it, page by page. Reading and rereading, writing and rewriting, until I was satisfied – or thought I was. And then I would go back and reread and rewrite a bit more, until, with a deadline approaching, I decided enough was enough, and sent it back.
Sending your manuscript off for copy editing is like sending in an assignment, project, or thesis, that you have worked your socks off to get done, and are just glad to see it gone. And then as soon as it is gone, you realise, with some alarm, that it will be coming back to you, and probably with plenty of comments and criticisms. Anxiety set in. Would my manuscript pass the grade? What if it didn’t? Would I have to start again? No, not that probably… but I wasn’t hopeful that it would come back unscathed. I tried to let it go. The waiting for it’s return grew ever so slightly tortuous.
When it did return, I discovered that my work was far from done. With all the re-reading and re-writing I had still missed some real bloopers. My favourite was ‘the Prince was sitting, relaxed, on his horse’s head’. That one made my husband and I laugh out loud, and will probably stay with us for a long, long time. Amazingly I had missed it, and all my beta readers had missed it. But not the eagle-eyed, super fast, memory- like- an -elephant copy editor. I found myself growing ever more impressed by the way my writing was lovingly snipped and tweaked, refigured and reworked. Like a flower display in the hands of a gifted florist, the finished result stood proud and beautiful in it’s arrangement and symmetry.