What Happens Now? (An author and bear discuss.)
Monday, 3 October 2016
Now that I’ve had a chance to meet with Unbound, and collect my thoughts, I wanted to share an outline of the coming weeks and months. I’ve put links to my Twitter feed, etc. at the end of the post, so you can keep up to date with our progress.
In the following dialogue I play the part of Sarah, an Unbound author who is really, truly, tremendously grateful for the support she has received over the course of her crowdfunding efforts. The part of the second interlocutor is played by Aloysius, quondam bear of Sebastian Flyte.
Aloysius (a very excitable bear): Hooray! You’ve funded your book. I’ll start checking the morning post for its arrival!
Sarah: I wouldn’t get too eager just yet. There’s a lot to do before the book is ready.
Aloysius (a little glum): Oh?
Sarah: Yes. Unbound are a publishing house: they do all the things that publishing houses do. It’s going to be late 2017 for the publication of the special Unbound edition that goes to all the crowdfunders. The trade edition—the version for Amazon and other bookshops—won’t be out until spring 2018.
Aloysius: But the book’s written, and that nice John Mitchinson said it wouldn’t need much editing, so what is there to do?
Sarah: There’s more to it than just sending my words to people. If you like, I can run through the stages of producing a book.
Aloysius (ever the inquisitive bear): Yes, please.
Sarah: Right… Let’s start with editing. The first stage is called development editing, That’s when I work with my wonderful editor, whose name is Liz, to make sure that the structure of the novel is as good as it can be. It’s a fresh pair of experienced eyes that can see the things I missed. But you’re right, we’re not expecting there to be many changes to the text, and we’ll probably only go through one more draft.
Aloysius: John said your manuscript had a "miraculous quality", didn’t he?
Sarah (blushing): He’s a very nice man. Anyway, after development editing comes copy editing. Now someone goes through the book looking at the text in detail, making sure that the language and grammar are correct and consistent. I think this…
Aloysius: But it will be correct, right, because you’re a writer?
Sarah: As I was saying… I think this will be an interesting part of the process. The language in "All the Perverse Angels"—the grammar, and spelling, and punctuation, and structure—is very deliberately chosen. Since the novel is written in the first person, the various ‘voices’—Anna and Penelope, in particular—reflect both the mental state of the ‘speakers’ and the periods in which they are ‘speaking’.
Aloysius: Is that a problem?
Sarah: I can imagine it might be, with some publishers, but one of the things which I really like about Unbound is that they involve the author closely, throughout the entire process. The book doesn’t go from my saying, “Here’s the manuscript,” to Unbound’s saying, “Here is your book, all edited and ready.” I’m consulted every step of the way.
Aloysius: And that’s editing done?
Sarah: No, there’s one more stage, called proof editing. After the copy editing is finished, the text gets sent out for the production of the first proofs, which are paperback copies of the book, with rough cover art. A proof reader then looks at the proof, and produces a set of queries about what he or she considers to be mistakes in the text. This time it’s less about the text itself, and more about ensuring that the text has made it correctly through the process thusfar and into the typeset book. The book may go through one or two more proof editions before the text is ready to be published.
Aloysius: And theeeeen?
Sarah: Is that a "Dude, Where’s My Car?" reference?
Sarah: Hmmm. Well, whilst all this is happening, we’re also taking care of all the other bits and pieces needed for the book. I’ll be working with Unbound’s art director, Mark, and his team to produce the cover art for the book.
Aloysius: You can’t draw.
Sarah: How dare you? I’ll have you know… Nah, just kidding. You’re right: I can’t draw. But Mark will find someone who can.
Aloysius: That would work.
Sarah: Yes. Once the proofs are ready, then Amy, who does publicity, starts to get involved. There’s also extra copy to write, for the ‘blurb’ that goes on the book cover, for example. And the list of supporters has to be finalized, together with any associated text. We have to find other authors to say nice things about the novel. Hopefully reviewers will publish pieces. And—who knows?—maybe there’ll be chances to enter the novel for prizes or awards.
Aloysius (perking up): Prizes like ice cream?
Sarah: Hmmm. Something like that.
Aloysius: So you’re going to be busy?
Sarah: Yes, but so are Unbound. Lauren is in charge of this part of the process, and she and her team do this all the time. It’s their experience which makes it all possible.
Aloysius: Yay! for them.
Sarah: Yay! for them, indeed.
Aloysius: Why is there a gap between the Unbound edition and the version which goes into bookshops?
Sarah: Well, that’s less to do with specific tasks to complete, and more to do with the best time to publish books like "All the Perverse Angels". And I should be clear that both dates—for Unbound and trade versions—are just initial estimates.
Aloysius (theatrically beseeching): Can we go and get ice cream?
Sarah: We can.
Aloysius: There’s just one more thing I don’t quite understand, Doctor Marr. Mrs Aloysius, my wife, she loves your writing, but what if she has questions or wants to know more, later?
Sarah: Did you just do a Columbo impersonation, for Falk’s sake? No, don’t answer… I’m on Twitter as @sarahkmarr, and I’ll make sure that I tweet regularly about what’s going on with the book. Tweet at me with any questions, too. Or there’s Facebook—sarahkmarr—where I’ll also keep people informed. My own website is sarahkmarr.com and I’m going to give it an overhaul in the next few weeks, so that it’s easy to find information about the book and updates on my progress. I’ll use the Unbound shed, too, but only for major milestones, because I don’t want to pester people.
Aloysius: So… Ice cream?
Sarah: Ice cream.
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