It’s a pretty satisfying feeling, hitting the full stop key for the very last time as you reach the end point of a book. On Saturday night in the wilds of Suffolk Tess of Portelet Manor was, I sensed, coming off the bend into the home straight. I therefore booked in for an extra night and by working throughout Sunday I nailed it. And in time for a celebratory pint at the Triangle Tavern.
Of course that’s only the end of the beginning, as every writer knows. Now comes the reviewing, revision, editing etc. Unlike my previous books I’ve done very little backtracking and editing as I’ve gone along. I’ve no doubt that I’ll come across passages that I’ll forget ever having written. Others will be horribly inconsistent with what follows later. Characters will be out of character, timelines will have slipped out of place. Other bits I just won’t like any more. And I may have bright ideas for inserting new stuff.
One of the extra problems with a historical novel of course is historical accuracy. You can’t hide all inconsistencies behind the ‘it’s only a story’ cloak. Especially the Occupation (1940-45) stuff which takes up a good proportion of the book. The subject has been covered many times in all its aspects and there are too many sharp Jersey minds out there that will find inaccuracies. So those aspects, ongoing throughout the book, need careful attention.
And after all that is done it needs to be professionally edited and laid out. No proper writer (and I don’t put myself in that bracket just yet) is going to compromise on that. I don’t always agree with the editing, mind you, and I’ve insisted before that I wanted stuff left as it was. But, if it’s not done, there will be errors.
There’s the cover to sort out and any writer blog I’ve read advises that this is done professionally. If it looks crap no one will read it, no matter how outstanding your prose is. This takes more time.
Then the printing process begins, and one is bonkers not to read through the printer’s proof. By this time you hate the thing but you will absolutely regret not doing this final check. With Barry I was horrified by things that had crept into the text unannounced and I had about 40 alterations (albeit mostly minor) without which it would have been a disaster. With Midsummer it wasn’t so traumatic but there was still one major factual error that I only picked up at this final stage.
So even my novice brain says use professionals, but take responsibility yourself.
And when this one is out there I’ll probably do any future stuff to Kindle. The world is headed rapidly that way. It’s a whole lot cheaper as well. I’ve no firm projects in mind but no doubt something will attract in due course.
Tess of Portelet Manor will, I hope, be available early in the New Year.