Thursday, 21 January 2016

Structural edits and all that jazz

Structural edits and all that jazz..

It has been a busy week for me. I received the structural edit suggestions from my publisher and I have been busy working on them. I have been able to sort out the issues relatively quickly - well all except one which requires more brain cells than I seem to possess at the moment. I think last night at some unearthly hour I finished it but now that the structural edits have been made I need to read through the whole darn manuscript again to make sure it all makes sense and flows.It is only too easy to assume consistency to avoid reading the whole book again, but although I am not someone who usually pays attention to detail etc., I know I need to do this. So tonight the task starts.

One of the structural edits was to change the ending - now when my writing group read the book they said the same thing and I thought -nooooo, I really like the ending the way it is. So I left it and that was the main thing my publishers suggested to change! So after a bit of sulking I came up with an ending I think readers would be happy with...Let's see what the publishers say.

I think that's one of the nice things working with a publishers - being able to bounce ideas off them and getting their feedback- although on saying that if you are self pubbing you can always hire a structural editor to give you their feedback. Personally, I have never done that but I am in the most amazing writing group that critique full manuscripts and they tell you exactly where you are going wrong - as the above example shows!  If you are a budding writer and not in a writing group I would definitely recommend joining one - and not a lovey dovey one - You need a group that keeps it real and points out the flaws in your plot, your 2d characters and generally keeps your feet on the ground!

Most writers I know get fed up with editing and I know that you can only read through your novel so many times until it all becomes so familiar that you can't see the wood from the trees.

Nevertheless, we authors persevere because that is what you have to do as a writer... yes, bring out the world's smallest violin! We are hard done by.

But it's not all doom and gloom. With my edits done and just one final read through before it goes to the line editing stage surely I am half way there already (If they like my structural edits that is). It wont be long before I am revealing the front cover and the release date!

To add to my workload I have also received the front cover proofs for the next Chupplejeep Mystery - The Body in the Bath. I like what JD&J have done but it needs tweaking here and there so I need to get back to them today. I have had some feedback from friends and family and other writers - which always helps. I don't think you can ever make a front cover decision in isolation!

And another thing - not sure if I mentioned this last time I blogged, but I realised the other day that I haven't written anything new since 2014!!! Crazy! So this year I need to start something new. I have an idea for a book which I will let you in on later. The opening scene is written (I wrote this a long time ago) but maybe I'll take it along to my next writing group meet and see what people think.

Anyone embarking on a new writing project? What are your writing goals for 2016? Tweet me @marissadeluna

Friday, 8 January 2016

So you've got that elusive publishing contract. Now what?

So you've got that elusive publishing contract. Now what?

Hurrah! I can finally announce that I have signed a publishing contract with the fantastic So Vain Books.  I should be getting the structural edits required in the next couple of weeks - so watch this space. I'm excited too for Poison in the Water - the book they are set to publish. They have classed it as a Romantic Suspense novel which I am happy about because I worried that it was between genres of Chick Lit and Thriller.

I have to admit when I received the contract I was a bit wary - why?  because a contract is legally binding and no matter what is said and done you need to make sure you are protected so if there ever if a fall out, if the relationship turns sour (I hope that will never be), you are covered.

Now,  I'm a bit of a researcher and what I have found is this: I have to admit you read some articles where people have signed away their rights to TV show etc, never seen a penny and all that and you think that wont happen to me - I can't see them buying the TV rights to this book I won't worry about it and so you don't. Typically the rights get snapped up and you didn't pay attention to that clause so you never make a penny. Most sites will tell you be wary ask them to take out this clause etc. and there are several clauses they will tell you never to sign. A contract is serious stuff and you should pay attention to it, but at the same time don't be so scared you have sleepless nights. There is a lot of scaremongering going on out there.

I think a little differently (often to my own detriment - well sometimes). I say pick your battles. Look at all the clauses and what they say and pick the ones that are important to you to have removed/amended.

You can go in and strip the contract bare - by all means that is what contract negotiation is all about, but at the same time be reasonable.

The important thing is to make the decision yourself and live by it!  You win some,  you lose some - yes your book may make millions of pounds if the TV rights are picked up, but will the rights ever be picked up if you don't sign the contract in the first place?

But in saying that don't be scared to stand up for what you want (once you have picked your battles) just because you are a first time author. For my first contract I asked a friend who had the same publishers to run me through the contract and it was fine. Looking back I would have added a couple of things to it definitely about termination rights (In this new era of ebooks) but I didn't so I chalk it down to experience. There is no use crying over spoilt milk and all that.

With this contract I was bold enough to ask for the removal of some clauses and the addition of another and they agreed. The best thing about this is that we are both happy and we can now file away the contract and work collaboratively which is how the best relationships evolve (If you keep referring back to the contract - you know where the relationship is going or isn't).

I rarely talk about my day job on here, but I do deal with projects and contracts all the time and the collaboration is a must to get something done (and have fun at the same time), so I have some experience here.

What I would definitely recommend though is to join the Society of Authors and either send your contract to them or read the various info papers they provide on what should be included/excluded for contract deals including E-book and POD deals.

You must also check out Stroppy Author's blog. the author goes through the clauses in the contract line for line explaining it. It's a must read...

And finally, you can of course consult a solicitor, especially if you have a friend who is one. If you are paying remember they need to provide a report on their findings which is more likely to scare you more than anything else.

So there you have it, my top tips for signing that contract! I hope it helps.

Monday, 4 January 2016

We need to laugh!

We need to laugh!

Happy New Year! 2015 went pretty quick, didn't it? Christmas was warm and fabulous in Goa. Some more research done for the second instalment of The Chupplejeep Series - The Body in the Bath - which should be out by the end of the year. New Year was spent in Devon - there is something raw about the British coastline in stormy weather that makes me feel quite at peace. I think its the bleakness of the landscape that makes me feel alive.  That may or may not make sense - I hope it does - but if it doesn't just don't think I'm completely nuts - I'm just having one of those days.

One of those days when I look at the year ahead and think we need to laugh more. We really do. Writers especially. We take it all so seriously sometimes and I for one think this year should be filled with more laughing and less complaining. I generally rant on this blog and I'm sure from Feb I will be back to normal, but I am going to make a conscious effort of laughing a bit more this year - and finding the humour in even the dullest of situations - like 1* reviews and rejections!  Why not - as the quote that keeps going around says - 'None of us are going to get out alive...'

My other resolution for the year is to do one awesome thing every month! It benefits me, it may benefit others (I may adopt a whale - yes that's how much Blackfish affected me) and hopefully it will encourage me to laugh even more.

And another thing, the author Mary Cavanagh has released a fantastic book to help writers decipher the publishing process and marketing etc. The book is titled 'Calling All Authors' and can be bought here
I read an earlier edition when I started on my publishing journey and I loved it - I'm now reading this edition and its even bigger and better - and features an interview with me!  It's a must read for any author.

So what about my writing plans for 2016!  I previously mentioned sending Posion off to a publishers and so far the feedback is good. I'm in discussions but that's all I can say at the moment. With any luck though it will be published later this year - Hopefully I can reveal all by the end of the month.  And I am still working on The Body in the Bath... A massive edit is due and I'm hoping it will be looking ship shape by the summer.

I have some dratted Quantity Surveying exams in March (I brought it on myself!) that may take my focus away, but other than that... I also plan on writing some new stuff this year. I have a preliminary idea for a thriller - work in progress title is Splinter and the third Chupplejeep book - Jetty Jalousie.

Happy writing people..... Remember this is 2016. Anything is possible!