Tag Archive | Publishing and Printing

Crucial Evidence Published

When I was awarded the degree of MA in Creative Writing in December 2009, I had about 50,000 words of a novel already written. Today three years and many words later, my novel has been published and I have a printed copy in my hand. The cover with the bar code of a DNA sample on the cover feels smooth under my fingers and there is the smell of new paper. I’m not sure I always wanted to be a writer. Certainly when I was a teenager I dreamt of writing a bestselling novel and I wrote short stories about young love.
Then life took over. I went to University and studied Law. I thought about writing academic books about the philosophy of law – after all why do people by and large obey the law- it’s a question that’s difficult to answer. But I didn’t really want to stay on at University, I wanted to get on with living and experiencing everything. I became a practising lawyer and if I wrote stories then it was in the form of jury speeches.
The life of a barrister leaves little time for anything other than work so although from time to time I would try writing a crime novel I never succeeded in finishing one. Now I have and I have a great sense of achievement. I have taken the road of direct publishing as the traditional route takes so long and is such a gamble.  crucial11
The story is of a mid thirties Barrister called Cassie Hardman. She is instructed to represent a young man, Lenny Barker, who is pleading not guilty to the brutal murder of prostitute Shelley Paulson. Initially Cassie believes him to be guilty until she discovers compelling new evidence. She risks her career and her ambition to become a QC to ensure Barker has a fair trial and will stop at nothing to locate the missing witness. Will she find the man in question before the jury retire to consider their verdict at the Old Bailey? And if Barker is acquitted who is really responsible.

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Proof Reading and Cover Design

I have now agreed a proof copy of my novel Crucial Evidence to go to the printers and for the ebook formats. It took four copies to hopefully eliminate all the irritating typo’s, minor grammatical mistakes etc, before I was satisfied. My husband read the proof as well just to make sure – I was sure I was missing mistakes because I had read it so often.
He raised with me the question of hyphens as there were times when he thought I should have a hyphen between words for example cross examination. I checked the original copy edit and found that Lucy, the copy editor had taken them out.
I am currently reading ‘For Who the Bell Tolls’ by David Marsh, who edits The Guardian’s style guide. I consulted the book and discovered that the hyphen is going out of fashion. One reason is that the computer breaks up hyphenated words at the end of sentences. So, he says, if they are not needed to ensure the clarity of a sentence don’t use them. Incidentally the book is a good read as well as really helpful about rules of grammar they’re not as many you think – is the message.
The next stage with the book is completing the cover design and the blurb for the back. The front cover looks like this

crucial11

I really like it – I hope everyone else does as well.

Publication should happen at the beginning of February 2012.

Best Wishes to all for the Festive Season and a Happy New Year.

First Quote

White horse in field

White horse in field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just received a quote from the publishing company for copy editing, preparing for printing as a paperback, proof reading, cover design, formatting as an e-book, distribution and marketing. The total cost is about £4000.

I would have five hundred copies of the paperback, which is the minimum number for having access to the distribution network the publishers use. I know there are cheaper ways of getting the book published-this is the de-luxe version, but they do a lot of the work and hopefully prevent the mistakes that mainstream publishers point to when they criticise self publishing. The question for me is how much faith do I have in my book to spend so much money on launching it? Still not sure, but it’s still cheaper than the mythical horse- the one I don’t have, can’t ride, don’t pay livery charges for etc.  Anyway I’m off to see another company who offer the same sort of service at the end of the week.

Distractions

My non-writing life has taken me away from my computer for the last two weeks. Certainly I have been unable to make any sensible contribution to this blog. I have however managed to send out my manuscript to a ‘Self Publishing’ Company for a quote to prepare a cover design, format the novel for e-readers and for printing, and made an appointment with another company to discuss an advertising Librarycampaign. I think I’m trying publish my novel the easy way, rather than handling all aspects of self publishing myself. I tell myself it’s cheaper than keeping a horse, which seems to be the preferred hobby of most of my neighbours. Do I detect a horrible pun there?

Amazon make it seem so easy, your book published in hours but that rather unsettles me. Am I being a wimp about it or not? I’m not sure.

Publish and be Damned

I recently heard from the major publisher who have been considering my novel Crucial Evidence that they are not going to publish it because they don’t think it will be a bestseller! Just a reasonable seller would be good enough for me. So it looks like its self publishing.
In furtherance of that route I had already send the book for a full edit and I have also received the editor’s comments on it. Her view is that in places the book lacks pace, and she suggests that I remove quite large sections which give my main character, a barrister called Cassie Hardman, a context. One aspect is her background, which I feel is quite important as she comes from a ‘working class’ family (hate these

An Oxbridge college seen from the outside

An Oxbridge college seen from the outside (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

descriptions but in the UK they still apply), state schools, red-brick university, whilst the Bar tends to be ‘upper middle class,’ private school and Oxbridge. She feels an outsider in her chosen profession and that is reflected in some of her decisions and attitudes. The other is a sub-plot about her Chambers’ politics, which again shows her reactions away from the courtroom, but still with her colleagues. Without those changes she thinks it is unlikely I will find an agent.
The publishing business uses agents as gatekeepers to monitor the manuscripts they receive and ensure only the best get through to the publishers for their consideration. When it comes to genre fiction, the formats are so fixed that anyone writing something that doesn’t fit precisely within the stereotype is not considered.
Another way of putting it is that for commercial fiction the author must write what the publisher wants, or rather what an agent thinks the publisher wants, and not what the writer wants to write.
So to amend that well known saying Self-publish and be damned.

Winchester Writing Conference

Three days at the Winchester Writing Conference has left me too exhausted to put fingers to keys. I went to workshops, lectures and had the opportunity of discussing my novel Crucial Evidence with a number of literary agents and authors. I know the publishing industry is struggling with Amazon and the supermarkets cutting the price of books and now the rise and rise of the e-book, but their response seems to me to be inadequate. In order to cut costs they us literary agents as gate-keepers, assuming that they as publishers and agents have the same agenda. During my career at the English Bar, I soon learnt that my clerk, the man who took 10% of my earnings, did not have identical objectives to me. I think the same applies to literary agents. They all say they are looking for some amazing talent, but in fact they want someone who will sell books so they stick to the familiar.  I have no doubt that someone will say that it is sour grapes because none of the agents I spoke to wanted to represent me and my novel, but I find that strange when one of the authors whose class I attended described my writing as brilliant, another as marketable and a consultant editor of a major publishing house wanted to read the complete transcript. I wasn’t the only writer with a similar experience. One of the men in the class on ‘Writing a Page Turner’ read out to the class the beginning of his SciFi/Comedy book, which had us all doubled up laughing. The agents he saw told him they found his work incredibly funny, but they didn’t want his book because they wouldn’t know where to place it. Which all suggests thet anything new, different or original will struggle to get published. I think self-publishing is the way forward. Has anyone else had similar experiences