24. Getting My Crow

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Getting my crow – The killer detail: So here it is… If you’ve seen the Books page of this you’ll know the title of Book 2. Here now is the cover. I hope you love it as much as I do. This is actually the third or fourth iteration of the cover. You may have read in my earlier Blog #5 and others, that early on I was advised not to be precious about my book covers. Luckily I loved both the hardback and paperback covers for If I Should Die. I made a few very minor comments, they were ignored, and I didn’t mind. There is a very busy...

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23. Getting Good Grammar

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Getting Good Grammar – Copy-Editing: So you’ve survived the editing process and the book is finished. But before you reach for that bottle of prosecco you stashed away, there’s one more hoop to jump through (briefly described in my earlier blog #8), copy-editing. Your publisher sends the manuscript away to a professional, who applies their remarkable expertise to finding and correcting all the errors in grammar, punctuation and continuity you thought you’d already spotted. And there will be loads. I’ve been through this twice now, and...

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22. Getting Feedback

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Getting Feedback – The Sh*t Sandwich: This term was suggested by a friendly writer I know to describe the lovely layers of fluffy praise offered by editors in hope of disguising the unsavoury feedback within. The sucker punch I mentioned in my earlier post #20 about book 2 draft 1. Sadly, this proved to be the case for my second draft too. Despite my editor’s effusive assurances that I’d done ‘great work’, and that the line edits he’d send me were ‘very minor’, the sandwich inevitably arrived with a less...

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21. Getting an Award

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Getting an Award – And acceptance speech terror…: Thirty-six hours earlier I’d been laid up in bed with tonsillitis and fever. The antibiotics were starting to work but I couldn’t drink for courage, I’d pushed my food around my plate for an hour and if the adrenaline didn’t kick in soon I was about to topple off the acceptance speech cliff… So how did I end up here…? The source of my terror can be traced to France around 2001. Doctor Francois Dufour of La Cadière D’Azur, in Provence, speculated that reading a good book might be as...

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20. Getting On

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Getting On – With Book 2: The difficult second novel… I’ve let myself get rather behind with these posts, but life has continued apace. If I Should Die was published first in hardback in June 2004, and the Paperback hit the shops on New Year’s Day 2015. But in truth my last sight of it had been in November 2013 when I sent of my final proof corrections. In actual fact I haven’t read it since and never checked whether those final corrections were applied. I assume they were. Too late now. My focus had already shifted to the sequel. As...

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19. Getting ‘The Question’

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  Getting ‘The Question’ – And whether to lie: The list of things no one told me continues to grow, but an interesting one is how to react when an interested blogger or keen-eyed literary journalist turns to you at your first PR event, drink in hand, and utters the seemingly innocent icebreaker… ‘So, what do you read?’ Be prepared. Especially if, like me, you have something to hide. And a mouthful of mushroom voulevant. So… confession time:   ‘I don’t read only crime fiction.’   There… I’ve said it. You can...

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18. Getting one thing straight

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Getting one thing straight – The known unknowns: Another thing no one told me was pick a genre! As far as I’d paid any attention I thought the prevailing advice was, write what you know. Or write what you read. Or was it choose your favourite author and emulate? The best advice, commercially, is see what sells and write that, with steroids. I haven’t had any creative writing teaching since GCSE English, so don’t ask me. I just wrote what popped into my head. I wrote surreal comedy to begin with because I enjoyed reading it back and I love the...

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17. Getting to the end

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Getting to the end – The unknown unknowns: One thing no one told me when I started out, or what I failed to ask because I had no idea I was writing a novel, was how to stop! To those of you out there who are struggling to finish a novel, I sympathise, but for me the problem was stopping. Like many writers I have an unpublished novel in the memory-stick equivalent of the dusty drawer. That first unpublished book ended up over 160,000 words. I love every one and would die to defend each. At least that’s how I felt when I’d finally did finish...

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16. Getting Distracted

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Getting distracted – Or what to play while the book is away: Like suddenly finding yourself alone in the house for a week, there came periods of time when the manuscript was off being read, critiqued, edited, touted, and I found myself staring down the rabbit hole with nothing to write. I don’t do boredom well. The temptation to drown myself in the stack of books waiting to be read, or the next DVD box set, becomes overwhelming and before I know it that all too precious writing time is being squandered. Simple answer – write the next book!...

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15. Getting Published (Part 4)

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Getting Published (Part 4) – Finish line serendipity: The day finally arrives… PUBLICATION! Transition from aspiring writer to published author! The day before I’d been into the wonderful Goldsboro Books in London to sign 100 copies (without fluffing any) but on Thursday 5th June 2014 my book was finally published. Through pure serendipity this was also our tenth wedding anniversary, and while the bookshops were opening their doors to the clambering hoards who’d been queuing round the block in sleeping bags to be the first to the till...

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14. Getting your book

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Getting your ACTUAL BOOK!: Three weeks to go until publication and you find yourself sitting on your first ever author panel at, I my case, your first ever crime writing festival… A hundred or more faces looking up at you and four more established, more experienced, more talented, more confident authors on the dais with you. There’s water on the table for your dry mouth. Top tip – make sure you pee beforehand. My first panel was titled ‘Tick Tock: Ramping up the tension’. To my left sat the Chair of the Crime Writers...

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13. Getting close now

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Getting close now: In a few weeks I’ll be speaking on two panels during Crimefest in Bristol, May 15th-17th, which will be the first writing festival I’ve ever attended, let alone spoken at. I anticipate feeling slightly fraudulent as, unlike every other author present, I will still not be published. My book won’t come out until the 5th of June. I have to say, I still feel rather a fraud in this whole business, it still doesn’t feel real. I’ve held a bound proof in my hand, but not yet a real copy of the final hardback. I’ll let you know how...

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12. Getting Invitations

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Getting Invitations – The fear and fun of PR: In between some of the my previous postings I’ve been drawn into my first few bits of PR. In March 2013, not long after that final re-write I attended the inaugural Penguin Crime Drinks. The purpose of the event was to introduce to invited press, bloggers and buyers the authors and crime books Penguin were to publish that year. As you may recall from blog #9, my book was not due to be published until 2014. There was a beautifully printed folded pamphlet with each 2013 book and there, at the...

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11. Getting quite excited now

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Getting quite excited now – Bound and jacketed: : The title problem had been holding up the cover art for weeks. Soon after the change, I was emailed the proposed hardback jacket. I hope you like it as much as I do. I love the imagery of transition; the moody sky sunset and falling autumnal leaves. The view of the Docklands from Greenwich Park locates the book perfectly and the lone figure with his back to you, his jacket catching the wind, invites you to meet a new character, the man of mystery, open the pages and learn more… Weeks...

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10. Getting a shock – An awkward conversation:

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Getting a shock – An awkward conversation: Interspersed as the wilderness year is with long spells of real life, it gets hard to say when things happened, but the next thing to happen was a shocking call from my agent. My publishing editor (the lovely man who was enthused by the revised synopsis – see blog #7) who had commented at that first meeting on how much he liked the title of the book, had called to say he wanted to change the title of the book. My original title was one word, punchy, eye-catching, apt to the central theme of the book...

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9. Getting a shock – A wonderful surprise

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Getting a shock – A wonderful surprise: Michael Joseph Imprint is, I’m told, Penguin’s powerhouse of commercial publishing. They want to sell books. They target the main booksellers, of course, but also the supermarkets. And because of this, most new fiction they publish in genres like crime, go straight to paperback. My book was to hit the shelves in this format in spring 2014. Only… not. In in September 2013 my agent emailed to relay that Penguin had decided launch the book in June 2014, in hardback! This, they said, was an endorsement of...

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8. Getting to limbo

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Getting to limbo – The wilderness year or the ‘how can it possibly take this long’ conundrum: This is when you find out your book won’t be out for over a year! Seriously. 18 months is not uncommon. Of course for me there was also that little bit of unfinished business to take care of… a rewrite. Applying the revised synopsis that had persuaded Penguin took about 4 months. They loved it which, I have to tell you, was a serious load off. I now had a final draft! Er… again, no. The script then went to a copy editor who, very pleasantly, pointed...

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7. Getting published (Part 3)

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Getting published (Part 3) – Or tickling the Penguin: And not only judged… rejected. Unless you’re the genius you always thought you were or didn’t realise you were, or unless you hit the zeitgeist slap bang between the eyes and bag a six-figure advance and film deal right out of the gate, you’re going to get rejected. It’s your agent’s job to get your script in front of everyone who might pick it up, the rest is in the lap of the gods. All you can hope for is not to get rejected by all of them. In my case some publishers said no thanks, some...

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6. Getting published (Part 2)

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Getting published (Part 2) – The pretending you’re not daring to hope bit: So your nearly agent now thinks it’s ready to send out to publishers and is now ready to become your agent. You sign the bit of paper, which if you’ve done your research you know will include certain percentages, and does. The very nice man, who has helped you turn your draft into something worth reading without charging you a penny so far and gets nothing unless he finds you a publisher is worth every percentage point. I have nothing but gratitude and affection for...

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5. Getting published (Part 1)

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Getting published (Part 1) – or realising your masterpiece isn’t: So I had an agent? Not yet. What I had was a very nice man who was willing to read my book and tell me everything that was wrong with it. The first draft of If I Should Die (and it wasn’t called that at the time but that’s for another blog) was 98,000 words. I’d been through countless drafts, tweaks and changes and I believed it was as good as I could make it. The very nice man disagreed, very nicely. And this was where I played my trump card – I was, and am, a complete novice....

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