17 March 2011

A glimpse behind the scenes - for readers

“What do you think you know?”

Why does that inner voice nag when an author sits down to work?
Aspiring authors and readers often assume the more experienced the writer, the more assured they become. And of course in many ways this is true.
Authors who write for more than one publisher meet and work with different editors. Each editor has their own preferences and angles, as does the publisher the editors and author are working for.

And within that publisher’s remit the author may cover several different sub-genres that all have their own perspective on how the they must approach their subject. So over time authors learn to adjust their writing style to suit both the publisher they are targeting and the requests of their editors.

From a reader’s perspective this may sound simple, but believe me, even for the most experienced and adaptable writer it can present problems.

Authors set out to write a book that will catch their readers’ interest and bring them back again and again. Author’s aim to write, to maintain and improve the quality of writing, the story content, to create more rounded and believable characters. Their books are not just stories, they are also an advertising campaign. The quality of the first chapter will entice the new reader to keep turning the pages, while final chapter of the current book must entice those same readers to buy the author’s next book, and the one after that, and… Well you get my drift.

The publisher sets out to contract authors who will provide a quality product. – I use the word product advisedly here. – It may still be ‘a story/book/novel’ but to the publisher it is also a product, one among many, all competing for acceptance, all competing for a growing reader following. To do this the publisher, at some point, will take risks on new authors. They are looking for writers who not only offer a quality product/book, but ones they think will offer quality manuscripts on a regular basis. After all a publishers target, like the authors’, is to sell books and gather a robust reader following.

To do this they, like the author, need to provide a quality product their readers will buy and keep coming back to them for more. Unlike the author, the publisher must do this over various genres and various ‘products’/book/authors. They have several ‘balls’ in the air at the same time, and if they drop one they must have an immediate replacement handy to keep the steady flow of production going without interruption.

And what of the editor? ‘The jam between the slices of bread’ you could say.
Like most artists, writers become so involved with their work it doesn’t matter how carefully they revise, self-edit and check yet again, errors slip through. It doesn’t matter how long the author leaves their work alone to give them space and a new perspective on their writing, their characters, their plot and their story, their brain and their eyes will still ‘float’ over some errors. They will ‘see’ what they intended to write, not what is on the page. It may be a comma in the wrong place, a spelling error their spell-checker missed and they overlooked. But those errors will be there. And it is the editor’s job not only to spot and highlight these, but to point out the areas where writer-style and ‘in-house’ publishing style may not coincide. Writer and editor have to work to readjust the writing without compromising the story to accommodate their publisher’s house-style.

Add a deadline to the mix and suddenly there is a high-level stress factor involved, and up pops that nasty little voice saying, “What do you know?” Or worse, “Do you really think you can do all this in time?”
Having done it once, readers may be forgiven for assuming next time will be easier for the author, and in some ways it is. The author knows, to a degree, what they may expect. But the industry is constantly changing, advancing, shifting.
For the modern-day author simply writing is no longer enough. They have to cope with their own promotion, which includes all things online from web and blog site creation to visiting hundreds of new sites tot tote their book. Virtual and ‘real’ book signings, most of those can be great fun.
But seriously, there is so much that every author must address that once came under the publishers’ jurisdiction, is it any wonder that every so often that pesky little gremlin gets the chance to pipe up and ask, “What do you think you know?”

Enjoy the blurbs and excerpts of Sherry Gloag's books at: www.sherrygloag.com 
Buy her books at:-
Duty Calls
The Brat 
The Wrong Target

What makes a book a 'keeper' for you,
what would prevent you from finishing a book?

No comments: