Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wielding the sword on Heart of Flame

It doesn't mean anything. It's not an official review, and it'll never appear on any public romance site. But my editor at Samhain passed on this note from the Final Line Editor, about Heart of Flame, during prep for publication:

"Fantastic storyline. The world-building and mythos were extremely well done. The pattern of the writing was flowing and in keeping with the storyline. One of the most unique ebooks I’ve had the privilege to not only work with but read."

Which made me happy!

In case you're interested in the nitty-gritty of the editing process...
At each stage I have to read through and okay the changes. We've been through 4 stages in the last month, speeding up as we went along, until it's been a gallop over the last week:

  • 1st edit: Switching UK punctuation to USA (' to "). Dedicated editor checks word choice and continuity, suggests clarifications for meaning or plot. A million semicolons die a bloody death. Commas disappear from before "then" and reappear before "and". Much muttering from the author about "crazy American punctuation."
  • 2nd edit: Same again, but more stringent. Second round of spelling conversion - I had a lot of "honour"s and "colour"s that needed their "U"s culling."Caliph" and "Amir" lose their capitals.
  • Final Line Edit: New, specialist editor, mostly checking punctuation and fiddly technical stuff like margins and spacing, I think. Lots of "try ands" converted to "try to"s.
  • ARC edit: This is to check that the text, which has now been re-formatted into an e-version, hasn't had any lines deleted or transposed by digital formatting. No, I don't know what "ARC" means! At this stage you can correct typos and mistakes, but no further tweaks of the text.
I'm knocked out by the high standards demanded by this e-publisher. The book has been polished to within an inch of its life ;-) And yes - I now have the final PDF version in my (virtual) hands!

Oh - and what did my lovely and incredibly hard-working editor think of the novel?

"You must be so incredibly proud of this story – the world building, the characters, two love stories running simultaneously, and not a single flat spot in 93K. It is quite simply amazing!"

Yeah .. I think I am proud. Exhausted and a bit shell-shocked too, but happy. Samhain rocks.

Heart of Flame out 20th December 2011 from Samhain as an e-book
6th November 2012 in paperback


Jo said...

Ah, if you see Vida's last post, you'll understand how much this process warms her heart! Amazing. Good for you on all hard work and its being over!

And congratulations on the excellent lovely feedback. Ah, lovely feedback, there is little better :)

I sent a writer whose writing I really love a rejected story recently, and got a 'wow! Super different and just a little creepy', which made me so glad. Attaining creepy is a big deal for me :)

Janine Ashbless said...

Thanks Jo! And a huge hug and congrats on the creepy story - it sounds just the sort of thing I'd like!

Ah, this post.

I guess there are e-publishers that are out to make a quick buck - they will buy anything and not care about the quality. But there are those that want to build a reputation for good products. I've had really good experiences with both Samhain and Ellora's Cave, that's all I can say!

Jeremy Edwards said...

That's magnificent, Janine! Not that it's ever a surprise to me when your work is acclaimed, either inside an editorial office or elsewhere. : ) Congratulations!

If you used any italics in your 93k, did you verify that they weren't lost when the file conversions were made? With all this technology still so new (and especially with so many different e-formats abounding), it's been my experience that this is something that needs to be double-checked at every stage. Obviously, publishers are thinking about this; but, as with so much of the publishing process, the more eyes the better, and as an author I always look for this or, if I don't have a particular version in front of me, ask about it.

t'Sade said...

I never really got comfortable with the commas near the "and then" bits. But, yeah, tiny little details are brutal.

Looks lovely though. :)

Janine Ashbless said...

I'm still confused by the commas! Sometimes they stick in loads and sometimes take 'em out. Thankfully that's the editor's responsibility in the end.

Thanks for the tip about the italics Jeremy - I'm off to double check now...

BTW, I've just been told that ARC stands for Author's Retail Copy.

t'Sade said...

I was told that ARC was advanced reader copy. At least, that is what I see on the top of the ARC's I won through various contests. Hrm, probably doesn't matter though. :)

Now, the one thing about American English and British English that I get frustrated with is apparently British English is okay with putting punctuation outside of the quote where American English always has to put it inside. As a programmer, I want the punctuation outside because strings (quotes) are sacrosanct. :)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Yeah, commas are incredibly subjective. There are basic rules, of course (albeit with plenty of exceptions!); but "optional" commas are a huge factor (both by their presence and by their absence)—the room for judgment calls, artistic choices, and stylistic preferences is enormous.

I'd always assumed ARC stood for "advance reading copy" (like what used to be called "uncorrected proofs" in the paper age). But I never checked to see if my assumption was correct! Oops.

Jo said...

I'm delighted by that comment, Janine! Good to know.

Jennifer Denys said...

Hi Janine

Fab comments from your editors. I had some good ones from mine and thanked my editors on my blog just this week. As a new writer I find their advice very helpful.

But I know what you mean about changing to Americanisms. What helps me is to change my default spell checking on my document before I start writing to English US instead of UK and it automatically makes the corrections getting rid of the superfluous Us for instance!!!!


Charlotte Stein aka The Mighty Viper said...

So glad you've been getting the acclaim you so richly deserve, lately. TOLD you you'd fit right in at Samhain/EC. *smug mode*

And my experience at EC has been wonderful, too. So thorough, actualy feedback on story and character...lovely.

Craig Sorensen said...

Ah, a sword wielded with skill is a beautiful thing! Congrats on the completion of the edits, and the enthusiastic words of the editor.

It doesn't get much better than that!

Samhain's thoroughness in the editing is very encouraging too.

Janine Ashbless said...

Jennifer, I'm seriously starting to think about writing in American, not in English. But then I'd be bound to end up selling the novel to a UK imprint and having to convert back!

Janine Ashbless said...

Charlotte, you are ALWAYS right!

And I hope you liked the sword pic too, Craig ;-)

Emerald said...

Awesome, Janine, congratulations! (Sorry I took so long to comment here—I saw this earlier but have been flighty on the computer lately due to other things going on around here....) This is lovely to read! :)