The News of the Day – Publishing, Editing and Reviews

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Hi, guys. Wednesday rolls around quickly for somebody like me who’s always a couple days behind on chores – both writing and household. Never enough days in the week to do all I want to do. Of course that might be because number one I’m not as organized as I should be and number two because I want to be at my desk writing or at least pretending to be writing all the time. Except of course when the grandbabies come to visit.

I want to be writing, but sometimes – like now – when I’m between books, I do a million other things that make me think I’m working, that almost satisfy that itch to be writing, but don’t do a thing to get a new story started on my computer screen. You know, stuff like blogging or Facebook or sending out cards about The Believer or editing already written novels. I suppose the editing is not really writing time wasted. Editing is a necessary part of the process of getting that book ready to go out and find readers. That’s what I’ve been doing this week. I got my editor’s suggestions of ways to improve my upcoming book, The Seeker. I agreed with most of them and so I’m trying to do a few tweaks here and there to improve the story.

Since I had to race to find The End before my deadline in July, I didn’t rework this book as much as I usually do. So I’m sure I’ll see lots of places I can improve my writing. I don’t want any of my scenes to be so rough that they might bump readers right out of the story and make them realize they’re reading and not really living that story as they’d thought they were before they hit the pothole I’d left in my writing.

A lot of people are really surprised when they find out it usually takes at least a year after a publishing company gets a writer’s finished novel before it actually makes it out onto a bookstore shelf. They think once it’s written that the process is almost over, but really it’s just getting started at the publisher’s end. First your editor gives advice on improving the story. Other people are working on a cover that will catch readers’ eyes. The marketing people are working on a plan to pitch this particular book to the most likely readers. Some of that’s going on right now for The Seeker – a whole year before the book will be released. Later a copy editor will be going over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb to check for all the little hard to read or plain wrong things the writer missed. Here’s where you hope you have a sharp-eyed editor who won’t let your mess-ups such as changing a character’s name mid-book get by. I’ve done that, but so far I’ve always caught it myself. That’s why I keep a list of every character I name in a book no matter how minor the character might be so I can go back and see if it was Roy or Ray in that earlier scene. But eventually with a lot of people’s help and input the book does get published – a couple of years or more after the author fired up her computer and began filling up page one with words.

And that’s where I am with The Believer. Published. Hearing about people spotting it in stores. Beginning to get feedback from readers. Seeing reviews. I wish I could be like one writer I heard speak and not read reviews – ever. But I can’t. My problem and I think it’s a problem most writers – most people – share is that one or two negative words can sort of spoil the whole review even if the majority of the comments are favorable. That’s like when somebody is talking to you and telling you what a great job you may have done on something and then they throw in that “but.” That’s when you groan because you know they’re about to lower the boom and tell you something you don’t want to hear. You end up forgetting all the good words before that but.

Of course constructive criticism can help us all if we’re open to it, but I don’t think of reviews as constructive criticism. They are simply somebody’s opinions. And it’s better for me as a writer not to get too excited about great reviews or too down about not so great reviews. The same book can get both according to the mood of the reader and what the reader likes in a story. I wrote the best story I could at the time. I liked it. I liked my characters, Elizabeth and Ethan, and the readers I’m hearing from say they like them too. And now I have to make my new story the best I can.

So have a great rest of the week. I’ll be in Frankfort Saturday 10 till 2 or maybe 4 at the Paul Sawyier Library for a Book Fair. If you’re in the area, come by to see me. And then I’m looking forward to a visit from my agent and editor. I’m going to show them how far out in the boonies I live. They’ll think they’ve come to the end of nowhere when they get here. Oh yeah, and my blog tour is next week. I’ll tell you more about it Sunday.