Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Debutants and Devil's details

Amazon now has a page for The Bone Season hardback. Sans cover. Sans official release date. No idea if the price is correct. But I still got a little bit excited.

There's only one week until I go back to uni. To my Finals year. My Finals year. I didn't realise this until I checked the date today. How did the last two years go by so quickly?

Anyway, dark thoughts of studying aside - last night I went to Bloomsbury's Debutants of 2013 event in Bedford Square. There were eleven debutants, all of whom have their first novel (with Bloomsbury) coming out next year. They were: Melissa Harrison, Lara Feigel, Seb Emina, Claire King, Lucy Lethbridge, Kate Worsley, CiarĂ¡n Collins, Damian Barr, D. W. Wilson and Carlos Acosta. They're all incredibly talented people. I was a little intimidated because many of them already have previous novels and a strong public presence
Damian, for example, runs a regular Literary Salon, which can be downloaded from iTunes – but despite my extreme newness to the literary world, I was put at ease by how welcoming everyone was. I met several journalists and reviewers and more of the Bloomsbury staff. It was great to be able to talk to everyone about The Bone Season and the other debuts.

At the end of the evening I was ridiculously excited to receive a bag containing some personalised postcards with The Bone Season on the front (see left). Most of the other authors already have their covers finalised, but D. W. Wilson, Carlos Acosta and myself all got these ones. Carlos' book is coming out even later next year than mine! We also got a Debutants booklet containing excerpts from all eleven novels. I'm going to sit down and read them all tonight. I can only hope the people who read the excerpt from The Bone Season
the first chapter will enjoy it. It was an amazing experience to 'read' the book on paper, even if it was only a few pages. It gave me a sense of what it will look like when it's all bound and finished. We also had the pleasure of hearing Alexandra talk about each of the books. She managed to make each and every one sound exciting. I'm looking forward to 2013 even more now.

Check out Claire King's report of the evening for some little summaries of each book. 

On the book front: Justine, my copy-editor, just got back to me with notes and comments. I was relieved when she said how much she'd enjoyed reading The Bone Season. It gives me a great feeling when someone tells me that working on the book didn't feel like hard work. I'm going to spend the rest of today going through the comments and seeing whether or not I agree with Justine's changes. So far I agree with all of them, so I should be done by tonight.

I also discovered that the copy-editor has another responsibility: to mark up the manuscript for production. The version Justine has sent me is covered in phrases like "new recto, verso blank", "centre on page", "range right" and so on, indicating how the book should appear when it's typeset.

I'll update again once the copy-edit is finished. Don't forget to ask if there's anything you're curious about.    

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Block and the Shock

Update: The Bone Season has sold in French!

This week has been fairly slow. Writing, tea and music. Has everyone seen The Publishing Process in GIF form? (If not, click that link. It's amazing.) I'm at that stage, where the book doesn't come out for another year.

I'm trying to get back into the uni state of mind by working on my summer Shakespeare essay, which I should have done weeks ago but got too involved in The Bone Season 2 . . . which will have a more inspiring title once it's finished. I'm hoping to hit my target of 60K words, which should represent just under half the finished product, before I go back to Oxford in early October. There's a meeting at Bloomsbury tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be bringing back some news from London.

So this week, while the publishing news remains slow, I'm going to discuss two different but closely linked issues: writer's block and writer's shock. (I might have made that second one up.) I have a couple of nifty tricks to beat them both. They won't work for everyone, but give them a shot.

Writer's block

The block is every writer's worst nightmare. Its basic definition is an inability for a writer, professional or otherwise, to produce new work. It can be caused by a number of factors, but most often it's down to a simple lack of inspiration.

1. Stop writing. Some people would advise the opposite, but I like to take breaks if I get the dreaded block. Have a cup of tea. Go for a walk. Sit outside and watch the world go by. When you go back to whatever you're working on, your brain will feel refreshed – and, hopefully, inspired. It will also give your eyes and hands a break.

2. Make a mind map. Old school, but it works. I started making mind maps when I was planning The Bone Season's sequel. I had a lot of good ideas, but couldn't quite work out how they'd fit together. The mental gridlock gave me writer's block for about two weeks, during which I was anxious and frustrated. When I linked the ideas together on paper, however, I got the most delicious urge to write them down. I'm now racing through the manuscript.

3. Breathe. Deep breaths. You are still a writer. You will be able to write again. Anxiety will only make the block worse, so tell yourself it will go in time. Even the best get it.

4. Refresh your eyes. If you've been working on a novel or another big project, tuck the manuscript away for a while. Work on something else. Go on holiday. Imagine that you've been in a long relationship with your manuscript, and you're now taking a mutual break. When you get back together, you'll fall in love all over again. While you're on your break, get inspired. Get outside your normal writing space. Write while looking out over a field or a lake or a cityscape. You'll be surprised how many little things can suddenly give you that longed-for mental boom.

5. Treat yourself. I like feeling like a writer. If I treat myself to a new notebook, or a sign that says 'Keep calm and write something', or a new pen, or something from the Literary Gift Company, I feel like a creative ninja. I am in Writer Mode. I want to write so I can use my new tools.

6. Shower. Seriously, it's like drinking from the well of inspiration. And you'll be clean, which you're probably not if you've been sitting at your desk agonising over your writing for days. Singing may or may not be helpful.

7. Sleep. As above. If you're like me and take about an hour to get to sleep, let your mind wander while you're trying to doze off. The dark room and the silence will soon be full of little plot bunnies. Most of my really good ideas come just before I go to sleep, which is why I keep a notebook and pen by my bed. I can't count the number of times I've had this massive zing just as I'm about to check out for the night. Plus, you know, writers are human. We need sleep, too.

Writer's shock

You've been a writer for a long time – maybe you wrote fanfiction, maybe you were working on a novel or a screenplay – but then you stopped. Lost interest, got the block, couldn't think of any ideas, or your personal life got in the way. Now you've been inspired to write again, but you can't seem to get started. This is what I call writer's shock. Instead of there being a block in the road, you've got an endless road to travel. How do you get started?

1. Start writing. I know, completely opposite to my advice for block. The difference is that block tends to come when you've been writing too much, while shock is from writing too little. It's as if you're trying to run a marathon with no training. To overcome shock, you're going to have to start walking. Write something. And when I say something, I mean anything. Write in your diary, on a piece of toilet paper, on your new shirt, on your face – just write. Then try to make it coherent. There are some great writing activities here to get you started.

2. Work out what you want to do. You want to write, but why? Do you want to be published, self-published, or just to have your work read by other people? Have a goal in mind.

3. Make a plan. Good, you want to write a novel. Let's go. Start designing some characters and researching some settings. Get yourself excited about this project. Make it so your fingers itch to get on that keyboard.

4. Set deadlines. Get some goals. Write a few pages every day. Don't beat yourself up if you can't, but keep your goal in mind, and know that you'll only reach that goal if you start running towards it. It can be downright terrifying to look at a blank document and know you've got to fill it up, but don't let fear freeze you. That empty document is a challenge. Kill it with words.

5. Get some readers. This doesn't work for everyone, but it's often helpful to go on a site like FanFiction.Net or and get yourself some reviews. Having a base of dedicated readers who are waiting for you to update your story will give you the impetus to pump out those chapters. If you write on FictionPress and get published, you can just take your work back down (Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas started on the site). You'll also get some feedback on your writing. There are tonnes of other sites on which you can do this, so throw something out there and see what happens.

6. Listen to music. As above. While you're listening to the music, imagine the story behind it. Work some characters in. You'll have a decent story in no time. That's why I tend to listen to music without lyrics when I get into Writing Mode. There's no other story in there but what I'm imagining.

I hope that's been at least a tiny bit helpful if you're struggling to get your words out there. Tell that block where to go.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

New release date

I completely forgot to post this when it happened, so here's another mid-week mini-post:

The release date of The Bone Season got shifted. To an earlier date. If the original release date had been kept – 12 September 2013 – then it would have been one year exactly until it was released in the UK, with a potentially earlier or later release date in the USA, Australia and other territories.  However, I'm thrilled to announce that the release date is now 20 August 2013, and that's worldwide!

The countdown now hits 342 days. I know it's less than a month earlier but it's so great that there's less than a year to go now. 

I'll have more news soon on foreign sales, and some bigger news in October. Also very exciting is that The Bone Season is going to the Frankfurt Book Fair with my agent.

I'm away on Sunday, so look out for my next blog post this Saturday. I'll be writing on how to get past writer's block.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Copyediting Season

I just found an article from May, written by the former Publishing Director at HarperCollins, that described me as a "delicious-sounding writer-nerd". I had an ear-to-ear grin when I read that.

Anyway, the season of edits is over! Now a new season begins.  

The Copyediting Season.

After being edited to within an inch of its life, The Bone Season is all cleaned up and ready for Justine, my copyeditor. I was a bit overexcited when Alexa sent me the prepped document back, with dedication, acknowledgements and copyright pages attached. It brought it all to life, seeing "the moral right of the author has been asserted" and so on. I'm really starting to get a sense of what my book is going to look like when it's on paper.

I thought I'd use this blog to introduce copyediting, so you get some idea of what it involves. Copyediting is sometimes confused with proofreading, but from what I understand, the two fields are quite different. I'm still learning, but this is what I know so far:

Copyeditors are usually freelance, employed by the publisher to suit the needs of each book. The copyeditor's job is to go through the manuscript and look for typos, incorrect grammar, missing words, bad syntax, etc etc. All the devil-in-the-details stuff. Stuff that even after three big edits, the author still managed to miss. They also look for continuity issues. I keep reading through The Bone Season and seeing little errors, so it will be great to have Justine to catch them.    

The basic difference between a copyeditor and a proofreader is the stage at which they work on the book. A copyeditor works on it when it's still in manuscript form. A proofreader works on it at the "page proof" stage, when the book is going through production and is starting to look like a real book. The proofreader makes no substantial change to the manuscript itself  instead they make sure the manuscript and the proof are as similar as possible. I'll let you know more about how the process works as soon as I start working with Justine. The copyediting should be finished in mid-October. 

I also thought it might be helpful to put up a little glossary of publishing acronyms! One of my friends told me I keep using 'MS' without explaining what it means, so sorry if I've been rambling and you've had no idea what I'm talking about. Here are all the acronyms I've used so far, or that I'd like to explain. 

ARC: Advanced Reader's Copy
A proof of the novel, released before publication to online reviewers, newspapers and other press.  

CE: Copyediting 
See above!

MS: Manuscript
The novel prior to being bound; the prepatory document. Could be written or typed. If you're writing a novel at the moment, you're dealing with a manuscript. 

MSS: Manuscripts

SASE: Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope
This one drove me mad when I was looking for agents for my first novel. The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook includes many agencies that ask for it. The idea of the SASE is that you provide a self-addressed and stamped envelope so the agent can return your manuscript at no expense to them. If you don't send an SASE, the manuscript will be safely disposed of by the agency, but you won't get it back. 

WIP: Work in Progress Kind of synonymous with manuscript, specifically an unfinished manuscript. A book that is in the process of being written. 

I hope that's helpful. Don't forget to ask questions if you're curious about any stage of the writing, editing or overall publishing process.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Back in business

Sorry for the long delay in posting! I just had a lovely weekend in Bournemouth with a few of my friends from uni, watching the Air Festival and generally getting out and about. The muscles in my shoulders were starting to feel rock solid from sitting hunched over my keyboard, so it was great to have a break. I was spoiled rotten by the hosts. There was a bit of drama when the Bomb Disposal Unit arrived on the beach, and when I bumped into Optimus Prime en route to the fireworks, but otherwise it was very chilled. Though it did remind me how close I am to going back to uni and essays, and how little studying I've done.

The deadline for the next edit is tomorrow. The remaining changes are very minor, little continuity problems and so on. Alexa and Alexandra have said I've successfully brought back the punch and pace of the original MS. Now the editing is finished, I'm going to be introduced to my copyeditor, Justine Taylor. I'm told she has a real passion for fantasy, so I'm very excited to work with her. I'll be doing a chunky blog post on what copyediting involves once we get started.

I should have some more foreign rights deals to announce soon. I'm not allowed to discuss specific territories until I've signed the contract, but more are happening! 

If you have any more questions about the editing process, I'm now in a perfect position to answer them, so do ask if you're curious.