Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Edits and markets and bloggers, oh my!

Barbara here. This week I am well on my way to the publication of my next novel, the first in the Amanda Doucette series, entitled FIRE IN THE STARS.  Monday I sent the proofs back to my editor after spending a week combing through them trying to third-guess my second-guessing brain. Research has shown that when you read, you see what you expect to see–what makes grammatical sense or what you think is there. Once you've written and rewritten/ reread your precious work-in-progress a dozen times, you can practically recite it from memory, and in a sense, your brain does. It jumps ahead from word to word, barely noticing the transposed letters, the missing word, and the wrong character's name. Quite simply, the brain puts it to rights for you.

Authors try to outwit the second-guessing brain by reading aloud or reading backwards, but I find the former too tedious and the latter too arduous when the manuscript is over ninety-thousand words long. Other authors rely on their rushed, distracted copyeditor to catch it all. An ill-advised approach, trust me. Still others get their spouse or friends to read it. Every fresh eye helps. I tend to read as slowly as I can without falling asleep, and hope for the best.

This time around, I made a few content changes in the proofs, which my editor will no doubt wince at, because at this stage, the book is already laid out and any changes mess up the layout. I found very few actual copy errors in the proofs, but whether my second-guessing brain outwitted me or not, only time will tell, when readers begin to send in their comments. "Loved your book, but just so you know, for second printing, on page..."

So now the manuscript is in the production line, the cover is finalized, and the cover copy all set up. In a month or two, the advanced reader copies will begin rolling off the printing press. And that brings me to the job on my plate for yesterday. Back to writing, you might think. You'd be wrong. The first few chapters in the second Amanda Doucette novel, entitled THE TRICKSTER'S LULLABY, are sitting in a scribbled heap on the coffee table beside my feet, but I haven't been able to get to them for over a week. First, those proofs, and yesterday, the publisher's marketing document. My publisher calls this the Author's Grid, and it's an Excel document (I have a headache already) containing all the marketing information that might be relevant to the novel. Media contacts I've made, bookstore and reviewer contacts, conferences and events I plan to attend, suggested search keywords for the novel, even the names of my federal and provincial members of parliament! Do you think they can help?

This grid serves as a partial stepping stone for the publisher's marketing plan. They have their own grid, I assume, and there is likely overlap, but in this brave new book biz world, increasingly it is the author's individual connections and networking that help to spread the word. The publisher will send out numerous ARCs to the major review sites both in Canada and the US, but  the number of reviews in major print newspapers is shrinking daily. Papers devote entire sections to the latest trends in automobiles and real estate, but reviews of the arts manage at best a page or two, much of it syndicated rather than local. But that's a rant for another time.

Nowadays, publishers, authors, and readers rely increasingly on online reviews, whether on Goodreads and Amazon or on dedicated book review blogs.  Although in theory, anyone can design a wordpress page, claim to be a book reviewer, and request review copies, there are some well respected book reviewers who provide informed and objective reviews and whose opinions carry great weight in the book world. This is where the author's connections become invaluable. Word of mouth, networking with other authors, and attendance at conferences all help us learn who might be interested in our work.

Media and bookstore contacts are another area where the author's personal experience is important. Every time I do an event in a store, I make a personal connection with that bookseller which helps when my next book appears in their catalogue, or even better, when my publisher sends them an ARC.

Some authors are wonderfully organized about keeping track. Names and addresses of contacts, websites, blogs, and so on–all in a neat little file. I am not. I tend to rely on my increasingly fuzzy memory, and hence there I was yesterday, staring at the blank Excel spreadsheet of my Author Grid, trying to remember what bloggers I've met, who might be interested in hearing about my new book, who have I talked to in radio or TV. It's a job that took much of the day, while my dogs waited with increasing impatience for their walk. But it's done now, and sent off. Back to the grand, creative life of a writer!

Except that now I have remembered two radio interviewers whom I forgot to put on the list. And there are surely other book people inadvertently missed or as yet unknown. So if you are a mystery blogger or a bookseller interested in an ARC, please drop me a note and I'll add you to the grid.

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