And… Send

Twenty-three chapters edited. 618 comments addressed. Several thousand words rearranged, deleted or replaced with better words. A manuscript that’s never been slimmer or more beach-beautiful.

Back to Misti it goes.

We’re getting close, people.


Ascension Point Edit Update: Editing is Super-Satisfying

I’m ten chapters of twenty-three through Misti’s edit of ASCENSION POINT, and loving it. Every comment and suggestion makes sentences, scenes, chapters just so much… tighter. The story is getting leaner and meaner by the minute.



(Caveat: Book is not as funny as Jonah Hill.)

I’m super-excited about getting the edits finished this week, and I’ve got plenty of time on my hands to do it as lovely wife is in New York for a conference. Once I’m done, it’s back to Misti for an edit of my changes, then back to me, back to her, etc. until THE CHANGES ARE NO MORE. And then, oh boy.

Publishing time.

The Importance of Cover Art

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ goes the old proverb. Which is frankly ridiculous, because how else is a book going to attract a reader?

“Oooh, shiny,” says the potential reader, his mouse cursor speeding towards the ‘Buy with 1-Click’ button.

It’s been a long-held adage in the self-publishing world–well, as long as that’s been around, so about 5 years–that having a professional-quality cover for your work is an absolute must. In case you were doubtful, this article has some industry professionals backing up that advice, along with some interesting observations on reader psychology.

I’m not sure why the title of the article says 2013, though. Did I miss the last few months of 2012 somehow?

(Via Passive Voice.)

Delightful Interview with China Mieville

At the Guardian, here. He’s one of my absolute favourite authors, a really wonderful storyteller.

I’m also super-impressed and delighted that the 12-year-old interviewer asked this question:

On a recent visit to a 16th century house called East Riddlesdon Hall, I found an early Victorian child’s sampler that used the ampersand (&) as a full stop. Have you ever come across this before and do you have any idea why they might have done this?

I have never heard of this, and I am quite fascinated. And troubled: my typographical philosophy is being shaken.’


Pro Editors: They Tell You Things You Didn’t Know

‘Dictionary counts “then” as a subordinating conjunction itself, so it can be used without “and” to form a dependent clause.’

This is one of the 619 (!) comments which the lovely Misti from RedAdept gave me on ASCENSION POINT. Over the course of our hour-and-forty-five-minute chat yesterday–now that’s value for money!–I got the most concentrated lesson in grammar that I’ve ever had, as well as a ton of other excellent feedback. Phenomenal.

I’m still processing everything, but here are some snippets:

  • I really like using dashes. Like, all the time. Even when I should be using ellipses, or colons, or periods.
  • I’m far too busy and important to spell words consistently. See: light-year, lightyear, light year.
  • I’m generally good at POV! Yay for me! But not so good at maintaining a single POV in scenes with several of my POV characters: it sometimes gets a bit muddled.
  • Authorial intrusion FTW. Or: I’m not always great at keeping the narrative sections of a scene in keeping with the POV character’s voice. A key lesson.
  • Scene transitions need some work. Too often it takes a few paragraphs before it becomes clear to the reader where the story is, and who the POV character is. Or as Misti put it, “Who? What? Where?” 🙂
  • Dashes vs. ellipses. Phrases vs. clauses. Independent clauses vs. dependent clauses. Commas with modifiers. Commas with conjunctions. Phew!
  • Unnecessary verbiage, e.g. ‘Emitting a yowl.’ Yowl is already a verb, Dan. Tut tut.
  • Pacing needs some work. More shorter sentences in dramatic sections to build tension, keep the longer ones for more mellow stretches to diffuse it.
  • And last, my personal favourite. I’ll let Misti’s example show this one: “His eyes followed them.”
    • Interpretation #1: He watched them, following them with his gaze.
    • Interpretation #2: His eyeballs popped out of his skull and trailed after them while he did something else.

Ahem… Yeah, the first one.

As I skimmed the edited doc I was pleased to see fewer and fewer comments in later chapters. No surprise, the first chapter, or 4% of the book, has 15% of the comments! Good to get confirmation from a professional that my writing really did improve as the book progressed.

I’ll probably post some more editing bits and pieces in the coming week or two as I beaver away at the changes. Having addressed the 92 comments in chapter one, I can already tell that enlisting a professional editor was absolutely money well spent.

But we already knew that, didn’t we?

The Process

  • Draft Book A.
  • Give Book A to beta readers.
  • Start outlining Book B.
  • Make beta edits of Book A.
  • Send Book A to pro editor.
  • Complete outlining Book B.
  • Make pro edits of Book A.
  • Publish Book A.
  • Draft Book B.
  • Give Book B to beta readers.
  • ….
  • Repeat for 50 years or until out of ideas.

Book Two: Embiggened

Some of you may recall a post from a few months back where I talked about my second book, ROGUE, and how it was starting to come along nicely–but was going to be too short. At the time I was planning to just keep writing the bloody thing, and let the story tell me where it could best be expanded, or the characters deepened. You know, writerly stuff like I imagine Stephen King does.

That’s not one of my strong suits, as it turns out.

It’s not like I’ve sat down to write very often in the last ten weeks or so–what with getting married and all–but when I have, I’ve found it almost impossible to crack on with drafting when I know the outline’s not finished. I can’t do it. I find myself just staring at the wall, wondering where I could slot in another chapter, or an extra subplot.

Well, happy day, I finally worked it out. And, like all the best ideas, it was completely obvious in hindsight. Just one additional chapter at the end of act two, a few build-up scenes inserted into previous chapters to point the way, and lo and behold we have a new secondary character and a plot tweak that cranks up the tension for Possible Ending Flashpoint #1.

Boom. Suddenly I have a twenty chapter novel which should roll in at about 75K words, and be a much more satisfying read.

Phew. Now I can write it!

Self-Publishing ‘Properly’, Or: Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I got an email earlier from my editor, Misti, telling me that’s she’s almost finished her edit of ASCENSION POINT.


Ahem. We’re going to have a chat on Wednesday, and shortly thereafter I’ll be able to start carving up my MS into a leaner, meaner form, with an eye on publishing before the end of October.

As this milestone nears, I just wanted to post on something I’ve been thinking about, what I consider the two different approaches a writer can take to self-publishing. In essence, one’s free, and one’s not. But there’s only one which I think is doing it ‘properly’. Can you guess which?  Read more…