Rosehips

ARCs, author’s notes and further research

The thing I’m learning about getting published is that it’s either dead-quiet or manic. There’s not much in-between.

This week the Advanced Review Copies are being printed. Apparently these are taken from the first set of corrected proofs, so I still have second proof queries to look at pre-Christmas. In the meantime, I’ve been asked to write a note for the bound proofs and am finding it surprisingly difficult. This is partly because there’s already an author’s note at the end of the book and I’m not entirely clear what I should say that’s different at the front. But I’ve had a go and produced two very different versions. One is a chatty, direct-to-the-reader thank you, plus potted history of the book. The other is a more formal bio-note.

The note at the end, by contrast, includes an aside about how knowing the common and Latin names of a particular plant changes the meaning of a key scene, some hints at how I came to write the book, and many, many thank yous. Never stint on the thank yous. A long list is something you should want to share because it demonstrates how generous people – including complete strangers – often are with their time and support when you say you’re writing a book. I’ve been very, very lucky, but I expect other writers are too. We need to flag this up as a happy reminder of how nice people are. Many are very willing to pause in their busy lives to help a writer, even though much of this kindness languishes in unpublished manuscripts or dusty, dog-earred notes. If you do get published, this gives you a chance to say how much you appreciated the kindness: make sure you take it. Readers shouldn’t be bored by thank yous. They’re the equivalent of the missing ‘happy stories’ on the news: evidence of people being good to each other.

The other thing I’m working on this week is filling out Faber’s publicity questionnaire. This is another thing I’m finding surprisingly difficult. But I’ll just have to give it my best shot and then ask the wonderful Laura from Faber’s publicity team to put me right if I’m wrong!

Finally, even though the book is now done and dusted, when given an opportunity to do some new research, I jumped at it. In the final stages of editing the book, I had to tweak the timeline of Evie’s adoption. I was fairly confident after the work, but regretted not having the time to do a little more research to be absolutely sure. So it was great to have an opportunty this weekend to chat to the most lovely, amazing foster parents about their experiences, how long various things take, and what the different stages in the process are. The book doesn’t deal with the detail of the adoption process – the necessary training and courses, the various stages of meetings and panels, and so forth – but it’s good to cement my understanding about these things so, if anyone asks, I can explain why I haven’t discussed certain things. I wouldn’t change anything in the book after this new research even if I could, but that’s why it was so useful: I’m now much more confident in what I’ve written and the choices I’ve made.

So, next steps… more thinking about publicity. I’m really looking forward to the one-to-one aspects of that: a professional excuse to spend LOADS of time talking to people, in person and online, about books and writing. It’s going to be such a hardship. <g>

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