I’ve just completed the third book in my Smugglers’ Town Mysteries series. It isn’t finished though and over the next months the manuscript will be edited, commented upon and proof read in readiness for publication in the summer. This is a time when I step back from the story, remove myself from the world I’ve been immersed in for the past year or so.
I use this time to have a clear out, both literally and mentally. My desk gets very messy towards the end of writing a book. It holds copies of previous drafts, a folder of notes on the plot, another holding research notes, text books I regularly refer to, my trusty Thesaurus – rarely in its proper place and post-it notes peppering the walls and anything they’ll stick to. There’s also a large pile of unrelated paperwork that needs to be filed away or checked and shredded.
When I’m deep into a manuscript, the muddle around me is almost invisible, but to move on I need both my desk and my head to be clear. This is because I need to switch mode from creating to promoting – from heart to head. Whilst the story itself may be finished, there are quite a number of items to write for the complete book ‘package’. The endpapers have to be written and include acknowledgements, author biography plus a glossary of words and notes on life in 1780s England.
The most intense piece of writing is the back cover ‘blurb’. Potential readers pick up the book, attracted by the cover or the author’s name, then read the back and make an instant decision as to whether they will return it to the shelf or take it away. Your beloved manuscript described in a couple-of-hundred-word nutshell. It’s not easy.
The next thing to work out is publicity, a launch, press releases, pitches to newspapers and magazines for features that will promote the book. These are all part of an author’s work – unless you’re lucky enough have a publicist. One thing I don’t need to get too involved in is the cover. I’m thrilled that once again the talented Domini Deane will be creating the artwork for the new book. Domini is given a draft manuscript to read then weaves her magic. We are currently at the stage where soon she will send ‘roughs’ – sketches of her ideas for the cover and other illustrations. It’s very exciting to see what she comes up with.
Finally, I’m looking forward to the book eventually arriving. It will be very satisfying to see the three books together on the shelf, that’s when I can say the book’s finished.