14 August 2012

When the writing is done...

..the worry begins. (Tuesday Talk)

I have finished writing Ripples In The Sand. Yay!

Due for publication late October
That feeling of writing "the End" is wonderful, especially when one thing after another has contrived to put the kibosh on getting the thing written.
First my ex UK publisher went bust, & the crook who ran the company didn't return any files to anyone  - so I had to completely re-edit previous draft copies.

I then found a new UK assisted publisher  - the fabulous Helen Hart of  SilverWood Books . So I had an enormous amount of marketing to do to get the new editions off the ground. Then other personal stuff - you know, that little thing called "Life" that will butt in at the wrong moment....

There were times, these last few months, I will admit, when I very nearly scrapped the project and gave up this silly job of writing... but what has kept me going is the wonderful friendship and enthusiasm I receive from you - my readers.
I couldn't/can't let you down. Too many of you have developed a fondness for my Jesamiah (and my other novels) I kept going because although few of you realise this, your energy has kept me plodding on, step by slow step. Thank you

So, together, we made it!
The Fourth Sea Witch Voyage has gone for its full edit. The copy edit and proof read is next of course, but the initial hard work is done.


This is where I bite my nails and worry. What if it is no good? What if the plot is rubbish? The characters don't work - it's all a load of nonsense?
What if my editor and my two dear friends who are my "readers" use the PC equivalent of a red pen over great chunks of it?

I have told them to be honest - there is absolutely no point in them saying "this is good" if it clearly isn't.
But there will still be that massive gulp when I get the feedback, the quivering lip, the, "Oh, but I liked that bit" .... even so, I will listen to their comments and do as they advise (unless there are scenes which I have written in deliberately because they are setting up the plot for Voyage Five.)

Now that I am self published here in the UK I pay my editor for her time and input. Yes it is a fair bit of money - but it is money very well spent, for no writer can edit their own work.

If you are going to self publish (or even if you are looking for an agent / publisher) don't rely on Aunt Ada who used to be a P.A. or your niece Amy who is a teacher to do the edit for you. For one thing close friends & family never tell you the honest truth in case they offend, for another, most readers who are not professional editors haven't a clue about the technique of writing. If you do have a friend who is willing to be brave and say: "This scene/chapter just isn't working" - then value his or her honesty because outsiders can see what you can't - that the writing drags, the characters are out of character, too many words, the wrong continuity etc. You know XX is happening in chapter 17 because of YY happened in chapter 2 except you've forgotten you deleted YY - and now it doesn't make sense to a new reader.

I value my editor because she brings the sparkle to the uncut diamond.
All the same, I have my fingers crossed for not too much red pen....

No idea who designed - photographed this
(or who originally posted it on FB)
 but thank you its brilliant!
Tips for writers: Discovering the Diamond by Helen Hollick and Jo Field available on Kindle

Amazon.UK  at £1.54
Amazon.com at $2.41

(if you purchase and find it useful please leave a comment on Amazon - thank you)


  1. Helen, I completely agree with you. I've not had a novel published yet, but I 'cut my teeth' working for a consultancy which had very high standards of narrative writing. We had to explain complex issues clearly in plain English. All our work was subjected to a polite but very rigorous editorial process much like that for writing fiction should be, with reviews and re-drafts. However supportive and polite criticism is, and it should be, it becomes wearisome. But it ‘sure do’ improve things, however good you are. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, Professor of English at Cambridge a hundred years ago, was a well-regarded writer. He would advise his students about their essays that “you must learn to murder your darlings.” In other words, don’t shy away from throwing things out. I have a very professional partner who is good at editing but I agree; one needs a professional editor to really hone the work. I returned from the Historical Novel Society Conference this year buzzing with enthusiasm and bolstered by kind support, but also realising that I faced another re-write of my novel. I couldn't cope with that for two weeks but now that I’m on my fifth draft, I know that the advice was good and the writing is getting better. And when I've finished I shall find a professional and submit my novel to their attentions, and no doubt face a sixth draft. It’s the difference between workmanlike and well-crafted.

    1. Sixth, seventh, maybe even eighth.... and still there will be errors! :-)

      The reason for a professional editor is not really for the punctuation, spelling etc - things that many well educated people can pick up, a professional will look at the technical aspect of writing, show not tell, for instance, author's voice, point of view changes (head hopping, wordiness, the general flow. No mainstream author will expect his/her book to be published without a _professional_ full edit; until self published/indie authors realise this indie books will always be regarded as poor quality.

  2. I completely agree. A professional editor is not just a copy-editor. And of course one is never satisfied by with one's work. It’s what I call 'author's disease' - the craving to constantly 'improve' the writing. But there comes a time when the damn thing has to go to ‘out the door!’ I do hope mine won’t take another five drafts or I shall go slowly mad(der). :)

  3. And did you spot the illustrative 'deliberate' error in the third sentence? LOL

  4. And another in the penultimate sentence. Maybe seven drafts, then. LOL Time for coffee I think.

    1. Oh writers drink a lot of coffee (or tea - or something stronger!) LOL and I often refer to myself as a demented scribbler. Whether the madness was before or after I started writing I can't recall.... :-)


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