Friday, 12 June 2015

Change of Plan

I hate doing this, but I think I need to adjust my plan and delay the publishing date.

A while back, I noticed that “” offered, for free, an assessment of the 1st 5,000 words of your manuscript (though recently, due to popularity, they've had to reduce that to the 1st 3,000 words). So I sent off mine – basically, Chapter 1. Just last night I had a reply saying that they'd reviewed it, saw a few problems (the main one being too much use of POV shifting within chapters), but would like to work with me on it. I had an initial follow-up email discussion with Dave at theEditors, who impressed me both with his insight and his advice. One consideration of course is both the length (150,000 words, which I know is long for a 1st novel), and whether I can afford the cost of their professional services. Some options under consideration are breaking the novel into two (there happens to be a pretty suitable point mid-way which might work: I'm not sure at this stage); or for me just to hit the Pause button while I go through it on my own to substantially reduce the POV shifts; or for me to simply dig deep into the piggy bank.

Dave also had other suggestions for ways to strengthen the 1st chapter, all of which made sense to me, so whatever happens, I shall go ahead and apply his advice. I'm still waiting to hear back from him about the various options (I'd particularly value his thoughts about whether the plot would be strong enough for the 1st book, since the grand climax isn't until the end of what would then be the 2nd book). But with the plan for a substantial rework and also the possibility splitting the book into two hanging over the head of its head, I don't think it's fair to ask people to read and provide a review of the manuscript as it stands. As a result I've decided to postpone providing interested readers with the MS for now, while I rework it (maybe with more advice from thEditors), and then re-make the offer. Since I haven't been inundated with requests (only receiving two so far), and I don't think any of my 'exclusive' (prestigious? witty?) group of Twitter followers even noticed my single tweet announcing the offer, I think it makes good sense to beg forgiveness for delaying once again.

Things are still quite up in the air. I think if I work on the MS alone, I will have done all I can within two or three weeks. The book would stay a single work. But if I can afford their services, and thEditors are still happy to assist, then it would take longer while they did their part and I also then made further changes based on their fuller suggestions. If the book does end up getting split in two, then the delay would be even longer if we decide the plot of the 1st book does need something more.

So, a slightly confusing situation for me, but if it makes the book stronger and I learn from the experience, then I think the delay works in everyone's favour. I'll keep you all (you few!) informed as the situation develops.

Okay, the decision has been made to get professional help ("He obviously needs it," I hear you mutter), and some very rough schedules drawn up. If we can stick to the schedules, and if things proceed smoothly, with a little luck the improved book could be ready by the end of August. I'll be working very hard to achieve that. It won't be split into two books.

Finally, thanks to Rachel and Eve who have expressed interest in receiving a free copy of Wild Thing to read for a review – I have you at the top of the list of the 20 people who will receive a copy. Oh: I suppose it makes sense that people can still request a copy: I can simply add you to the list, and email you each to check that that's still okay, say a month before I'll have it ready. I've updated the older blog post to make that clear.


Hayden Linder said...

Luke? Are you sure you don't want a second opinion? These guys may be great, I don't know because I'm new to the business but that sounds like a lot of work that you just conveniently need them for. I'm not sure how many friends and family you have let read the MS but you may want to go ahead and send Rachel and Eve a copy just to see if they concur.

Luke Kendall said...

I've had 5 family and friends read it, and they've all liked it. But one friend and I did note that I would occasionally shift POV (clearly signalled) mid-scene, and that many people are uncomfortable with that. I also work-shopped the whole thing through the Online Writing Workshop for SF, F, and Horror, chapter by chapter. Too frequent POV shifting came up probably as the most frequent criticism. Yet quite a few had no problem with it.

All that is by way of saying it was an issue I was aware of, but I was uncertain what percentage of people are troubled by it even when you do it cleanly and well. For people who are quite comfortable shifting POV, it's not an issue in the slightest. For everyone else, though, it's a major hurt: a psychic jolt that takes them out of the story as they extract their emotional tie from one character and then reattach to another. For me, that requires minimal effort and zero 'shock'.

The other thing comes down to the question, are they just encouraging me to spend money to little effect? I understand that you're commenting to ensure I'm aware of the possibility, and to be aware there are many shonky predators amongst the people claiming to be editors. But I looked into the testimonials they offered, and they impressed me, and believe they are genuine testimonials.

But the major factor in my decision was the quality of the advice I got back as part of the free assessment, including the several significant insights shown; the patience and professionalism of the replies during our email discussion; and a general sense of the integrity of the person behind the emails.

I then discussed it with a close friend, who has been very supportive of the book during its whole lifetime, and who is dead keen for me to publish it soon, and to stop delaying. I showed him the email discussion, and at the end, his impressions were exactly the same as mine.

All I can say is that I'm quite confident that this is the right decision. I expect you'll see my testimonial added to their web site in due course! Anyway, I'm perfectly happy to be a guinea pig, and let you know how it works out.

Again, Hayden, thank you very much for caring and for commenting. I'm not ignoring your advice: I'm just saying, I did consider all those things in making my decision.