Monday, 29 February 2016

My Kindle Scout Kirkus edit

On Saturday I received the Kirkus-edited typescript of Time Rats 1. The editor says kind things in his summary about my plot, characterization and dialogue - and also praises my accuracy in keeping track of time, a major concern when writing about time travel. But I have to say I was not expecting the massive number of edits, up to two dozen per page.

I'm pleased that Amazon allows me the final decision as to whether or not to accept the editor's advice. I always want to make changes that will improve the book. Many suggestions, however, I considered and rejected - this is my seventh novel, and I'm confident in my writing. I believe unnecessary edits run the risk of losing the writer's voice. 

Don't think I'm not grateful. I know how expensive a Kirkus edit is, it's extremely thorough, and I appreciate Amazon wanting - and paying for - Kindle Press books to be the very best they can be. It's good to have a professional pair of eyes going over my novel, and some of the notes I seized on with cries of glee - Jace doesn't have a penknife, then a page later he's looking for it. Duh. There's the occasional suggestion of more felicitous phrasing or a better word. I am ashamed to own up to an errant apostrophe. And I spelled tesserae wrong.

I am entirely confident this editor pored over every word, and no error escaped him. Had there been any plotholes, he'd have found them.

Suggestions I've ignored:

Americanization of my prose.

Dates and times as specified by the Chicago Manual of Style.

Chapter titles with capital letters - now, I use chapter titles because otherwise, the first thing the reader will see in the ebook sample is a boring list of Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3 etc.. Quirky titles for each chapter are more inviting. But capitalize them, and they become much harder to read. I don't want that.

Correcting colloquial speech in dialogue. Replacing all brackets with dashes. Replacing many semi colons with full stops - I like semi colons, having acquired them in my youth from Mary Renault.

Replacing all third person observations from a character's POV with first person italics on a new line, as if it was silent speech, which in my opinion is just weird and reads strangely. Do any writers do this?

Padding my prose - inserting words like clearly, just, still, somehow, simply, even, though, really, usually, anyway. I've spent years decluttering my prose, dammit. Ready and waiting is not an improvement on waiting. Just enough is not better than enough. Aren't editors supposed to take this stuff out, not put it in?

Altering a sentence for no obvious reason, sometimes making it worse. Reading this example after Jace has removed the locked TiTrav from Quinn's wrist once he was dead, I began to entertain a dark suspicion that this editor is tinkering with sentences just because he can:

My version: “So how did you get it off Quinn, then?” Pause, while Floss realized how he had got it off Quinn, and imagined him doing it. “Oh.”

Editor's version: “So how did you get it off Quinn, then?” Floss paused as she realized how he had done it, and then visualized him doing it. “Oh.”

This was my first experience of a professional edit. Have any of you had one, and how was it?

Saturday, 6 February 2016

TIME RATS 1 paperback

For the print edition of Time Rats 1, I decided to try Createspace. I've always used Lightning Source before, since I thought their product was superior, but I've recently been helping a writer friend with her paperbacks using Createspace, and was impressed by their quality. They have a sophisticated online preview system, which I found extremely helpful. Plus the set-up costs are quite high at Lightning Source, and with Createspace you only have to pay for a proof copy. Createspace provide a free ISBN, too.

That's my proof copy in the photos, and I'm very pleased with it. Ebooks are great, but there is something very nice about a physical edition. The paper is a little less smooth and creamy than Lightning Source's, but I can live with that. The main thing I would change if I could is the position of the barcode on the back, and unless you have your own ISBN, you are stuck with it where it is, and can't move it up and to the centre as I would have liked to do. But this is a minor matter, and I don't suppose readers will care.

I got the paperback ready while Time Rats 1 was doing its thirty day stint in Kindle Scout, thinking that if I was rejected, I could get the ebook and the print book out almost immediately. But TR1 was selected (woot!), and Kindle Press ask authors to delay the release of the paperback until they have launched the ebook.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Amazon's Kindle Press choose TIME RATS 1

I woke up to the fantastic news this morning that my latest novel, TIME RATS 1: The Trouble with Time, has been selected for publication by Kindle Press. (I blogged earlier about Kindle Scout here.)

I'll be a hybrid author! And Amazon is the only publisher about whom I feel enthusiastic. I'm as pleased as Punch and Judy, as the offspring used to say.

It's difficult to predict which books on the KS site will be selected; of the five I've nominated so far, only one has been chosen. That was The Girl who Heard Demons, by Janette Rallison, which I thought was a shoo-in.

My estimation of my chances fluctuated wildly during the thirty-two day wait. No one knows the precise criteria for selection, beyond the books being proofread to a publishable, or near-publishable standard. (Near-publishable, since Amazon editors check the text and make suggestions if necessary.) A look at the list Published by Kindle Press on the Kindle Scout site suggests the books have to be competently written. A good cover helps. Many of the chosen authors have already published several books.

But any selection process has an element of personal taste to it. Last Friday afternoon I was judging the modellers' section for the Goldsmiths' Craft and Design Council. There were three judges, and we all agreed almost without discussion on the worst entries to be immediately discarded, and the excellent entries to be considered for awards. Only when it came to awarding gold, silver and bronze was there a mild disagreement over which was the best; and I think this came down to a matter of personal taste. 

It gives a sense of perspective, to be judging one day, and judged the next.

Did I mention how pleased I am? I am very, very pleased. Dancing about pleased.