Thursday 28 June 2012

Birth of a Book

Writing a new book is like having a baby. It doesn’t matter what genre of book, whether it is fact or fiction, it goes through the same process.
        First there is the conception. That spark that ignites an idea, a need to tell.
        This is followed by the gestation period. Unlike a human pregnancy this time can vary from weeks, months or even years. This is the time when your book is formed, shaped and grows from that initial idea into a full blown work. Checked, edited, every word in the right place; every comma, full stop and speech mark.
        Typing ‘The End’ is like giving birth. Your baby is fully formed and ready to meet the world. Like taking a baby out for the first time you tentatively ask someone else to read it and hope they will give you an honest opinion.
        Then, like taking your small child for its first day at school, it’s out there for people to buy. Your baby. Out there all alone in the world trying to smile enticingly so that people will pick it up, download it, read it. Maybe, just maybe, someone will review it, like a teacher giving an end of year report.
        Complications can arise when authors suffer from multiple births; two or three stories demanding attention at the same time. Some can deal with this, like parents of triplets, but they need to be very strict with their children, giving each an allotted time and sticking to it.
        I have just typed ‘The End’ on my latest book Shattered Dreams and already a new baby is growing. How long it will take I don’t know. Less than nine months I hope!

Friday 22 June 2012

The Need For An Editor

When Blue Hour Publishing first started someone asked 'Why do you need a publisher to publish an ebook?'
   The answer to that is simple. If you are a competent writer, have good friends who will check your work for you, without flattery, then you don’t need a publisher. Go it alone and take all the royalties.
However, not everyone is that capable. Not everyone has the ability to tackle Amazon’s KDP system. Not everyone can type perfectly!
   That’s where an editor comes in. I was amazed to realise that over the last eighteen months or so I have looked at over 20 books for different people. The difference in work needed has varied from next to none –  just checking that stray typos haven’t crept in; Word is great at spotting incorrectly spelt words, but even with the grammar check on it doesn’t always spot wrong words perfectly spelt but out of context – to suggesting sections that could be re-written for whatever reason.
   My main concern is continuity, both in the story and in the formatting. Checking that character names are the same all the way through, especially incidental characters that may only appear a few times. I spotted this error in a published book that no one else had noticed. The author was extremely grateful and the book was revised.
   Making sure that things like speech marks and dashes are the same throughout the text. Word has the, sometimes annoying, ability of changing an ‘n’ dash to an ‘m’ dash, often leading to a mix of dashes in a text.
Another thing I do is keep an eye on timelines. Making sure that someone doesn’t do something out of sequence, and that the characters don’t do something that is out of natural time, like picking apples in April.
   What about spelling? According to research at Cambridge University it doesn’t matter whether a word is spelt correctly so long as all the letters are there and the word starts and ends with the right ones. That’s fine as an experiment, but it would make reading a chore rather than a pleasure. I am English. Blue Hour Publishing is based in England. So we tend to use English spellings, English punctuation, English phrases and speech patterns. If dialogue has lots of aitches missing it’s because that is how the characters speak, not because we can’t spell. Again, this comes under continuity. It is quite hard for a writer to remember to drop all the letters that are needed when in full flow. I have just gone through something replacing lots of aitches with apostrophes.
   Should it be ‘ise’ or ‘ize’? So long as it is the same all the way through and for every word it is needed I couldn’t care less. Writer Colin Dexter had Inspector Morse criticise the use of ‘ise’ as incorrect; but according to any decent dictionary either is correct. Most newspapers that I know of in the UK use ‘ise’. Try putting a ‘z’ in a crossword and you will be stumped. I know ‘ize’ is used in the US, but I would like to point out to them ‘ise’ is not wrong, it is an alternative.
   The final thing I do to each and every manuscript I check is to run a check for homonyms and make sure the right word is in the right place. A ‘find’ for there, their and they’re is the first thing I check, followed by such other words that can get confused, not because the writer doesn’t know the difference but because fingers sometimes work independently from the brain and type the wrong word.
   How many times do I read a manuscript (technically we should stop using that word because if you look it up it means a handwritten piece of work. If anyone sent me anything handwritten, I would send it straight back I’m afraid).  This depends entirely on the work. Sometimes I only need to read it once, the only thing that needs checking is the typing. Sometimes I will read something two or three times as things become clearer in a complicated plot and my first comments are no longer valid. I have even had work submitted more than once, a second review after the writer has changed the work in accordance with my suggestions or his own plot changes.
   Every book published by Blue Hour Publishing goes through this process. Every book is different, written in a different style. I try not to interfere with the writer’s style or impose my own preferences on their work. That is not my job. If the story makes sense that is enough for me.
   So that is why an ebook needs a publisher. Editors have a hand in almost everything that is published. They are usually unknown, sometimes acknowledged by the author but not always. So next time you pick a book off the shelf in a bookshop or library, remember that the words within that book have been checked and sometimes rearranged by some anonymous person working for the publisher.  

Sunday 17 June 2012

Great reviews from Gerry McCulloch

We were very happy when author Gerry McCulloch featured two of our books on her blog. Lallapaloosa and The Blue Hour are both reviewed by Gerry, herself a brilliant author. To visit her blog click here or click on her blog at the side of our page.
Many thanks Gerry and good luck with your own new book Angel in Flight.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Reviewing Month One

Take a deep breath and count to ten. A whole month has flown by since this blog was first set up. And what a month it has been! Sometimes it seemed to fly by. Sometimes it has felt like it is not moving.
   Since starting this venture Blue Hour Publishing has put seven books out. All have been carefully edited and checked.
   So what is it like to be an editor. When I first told my husband what I was doing he immediately said he would inform the police about husband bashing. I told him EDITOR not ED HITTER (I’ll leave to work out what his name is).
   The hardest part is getting into the style of the author, not inflicting your own style on the work. I have been lucky here. Each of our authors has their own particular style and that has made looking at each book an exciting and rewarding experience.  I make a point of not trying to re-write what our authors have put. The most I have had to do is maybe suggest a slightly different way of saying something. But so far all our authors seem to be on the right track, so I am extremely lucky there.
   My main concern is making sure the text is right. It is amazing how even the best book can have the odd missing speech mark or the wrong word that has slipped in because it is spelt correctly but just isn’t the word the author intended. I have even seen this is published books by big name authors that are sitting on my bookshelf, let alone an ebook.
   This has been a huge learning curve and I am looking forward to the future and finding even more books to release out into the ethersphere.

Friday 8 June 2012

Lovely Review

Time for a bit of boasting from your Editor! It is always humbling when someone give you a wonderful review and today I spotted the first after the Edge of Extinction Promo. Don't know if the two are related but I don't care. Read the review on Kristen Stone's page, while I bask in the glory. Hope the writer goes on to buy The Penhaligan File and enjoys that just as much.

Saturday 2 June 2012

1st Day Stats for Edge of Extinction Promo

Well, it seemed a slow start, but by 11.30pm Edge of Extinction had moved up to
#649 Free Kindle Store
#12 Free Kindle>Books>Fiction>Fantasy>Contemporary
#24 Free Kindle>Books>Fiction>Action & Adventure

Let's  see if the momentum keeps up and the figures go even higher in the next 2 days.
KS sends her thanks to BH for working so hard at promoting this.

Friday 1 June 2012

Edge of Extinction

Coming on Saturday 2nd June Edge of Extinction FREE for four days.
Follow Kianda Mala through the Amazon jungle as he tries to find out why the people of his village are dying.
This is how other readers have described this book.

Enchanting - Pleasantly surprising - Compelling - Page-turner - Beautifully written - Thought provoking - Heart warming - Poignant

Don't miss your chance to get this intriguing story for free this weekend.