Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Well I never!


They say you learn something new every day. I'll spare you my diary entries and share three four things I learned in the last week.

1. Editing and proofreading are very different animals. Just because it waddles like a duck, floats like a duck and makes quacking sounds, don't assume it isn't a goose. I've recently been working on a client's book and, breaking new ground for me, converting her ms into an ebook (after the previous version became corrupted). I am indebted to Sofia Higginbotham, one of my blog buddies, who eats ALA, AMA and Chicago Style for breakfast. She was able to point out some of the finer points of difference between UK and US idioms (towards / toward, etc.) and explain why 'nasty' isn't a suitable word in family stories across the pond.

2. Sometimes, people and situations are just a failed experiment. So as long as no one has really been hurt, draw a line and move on. Like many writers, I also temp, here and there, so when I rang an agency that I'd signed with a year ago to ask if they planned on ever sending me any work (hit rate: nil; calls to me: nil), I was surprised to hear my 'handler' reply that perhaps she hadn't been as proactive with me as she could have been. And it turned out that the vacancy on the website was just 'an illustration' of the type of roles they handle. Although clearly, not for me, in the last 12 months.

3. Some publishers will tell you in print that they:
a) Are now pro simultaneous submissions.
b) Viewed your ms with interest, but decided they couldn't publish it with commercial success.
c) Recommend sending in a 200-word dust jacket blurb along with your sample chapters, but - and this is the crucial bit - without a synopsis and without giving away the ending of the book.

This just in...

4. Sometimes, you're waiting four months for a response from a publisher, only to discover upon ringing them up that they never received your manuscript in the first place. Thank you, Royal Mail.


Every piece of writing is an experiment, albeit one with a certain amount of emotional investment. But sometimes, it's both important and therapeutic to click the delete button and free up some hard drive space in your head. Who knows, perhaps elements of that piece will resurface in a different guise, maybe even a different genre? The most important thing is taking the decision to draw a line. Murdering your darlings needn't apply solely to fiction writing.

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