The creation of a book is never finished until it goes to the printer. Authors always need to make tweaks and twists, but there comes a time when they need to let go. That moment is approaching for Slim Chance, the crime novel I am co-authoring with Sylvia Howe.
We have reached the exciting stage of discussing feedback from our beta readers, which has been positive. Where do we need to take action on their comments?
And what can we achieve with a minor change to the text – or by ignoring completely. Cuts are hard to make but we know we will have to bite the bullet.
All the feedback has been useful so far. We have decided to amend some scenes and to introduce others so to provide more twists to the story or to make the narrative clearer. Some scenes are not vital to the story itself, but sideshows, to provide light relief. Novels need ups and downs so the pace and tone are arriving at different speeds and levels. We don’t want to leave readers breathless or bored.
Meanwhile we have sent a proposal, a synopsis and 15,000 words of the text to a literary agent. Very few publishers will even look at ‘unagented’ manuscripts, so it is vital to find an agent if we want to go down the traditional publishing route.
We will soon start to look at self-publishing as an alternative. To have any success with that we will need the special tips and tricks of book marketing methodology. We are busy talking to other authors who have self published, and following podcasts (Shedunnit with Caroline Crampton and The Plot Thickens by Ellie Griffiths); and newsletters from expert marketeers, such as John Kremer in the US, and in the UK Joanna Penn and Writers&Artists from Bloomsbury Publishing.
And the construction of our follow-up novel, Sour Grapes, is taking shape, with more than a dozen chapters in the bag.
On top of all that we still find time to read. Sylvia is knee-deep in fiction, notably crime thrillers, while I’m a member of 2 book clubs. At present I have 4 books on the go – Percy Everett’s Erasure, Kate Atkinson’s Shrines of Gaiety, Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait, and Anna Keay’s The Restless Republic – a fascinating non-fiction account of the lives of some of the leading characters in Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth in 1650s which I have almost finished.
That may look exhausting and confusing but I assure you it works for me. After all, I’m now devoted to writing and reading, while my editing and copywriting services are on hold – unless you need me. But, as I have often said or written, you can plan and write your book a couple of hours a day alongside your job.
Finally, for your book, I heartily recommend that you seek and find a collaborator.
Best wishes on your writing adventures