For you suave and much-published authors out there, skipping in and out of Bloomsbury, the traditional book publishing area of London, to discuss the minutiae of line editing, cover design, launch parties, curly quotes and more, is a matter of dull, everyday drudgery. For this newbie, it's a lovely treat. Just one hour with the ultra-efficient Mark Searle of E&T Books is enough to set me up with cheerfulness for weeks at a time.
He is a real all-rounder, full of enthusiasm, even if he does have a cold. I must admit I am slightly scared of him as well (in a good way) so I stayed up 'til about 2.30am last night doing some last bits of chronological restoration to the proofs. It got very cold, and I nursed a hot-water-bottle with one hand as I typed with one finger, shivering happily.
Husband left me sleeping this morning and dealt with getting the two boys off to school, and I woke to find muesli with yoghurt and a cup of tea beside the bed in acknowledgment of my editorial marathon. Before I could enjoy them, I had to skip downstairs to capture a sentence spinning in my head, and went straight back onto the computer in my pyjamas to have another tweak.
The electronic version of the One Apple Tasted proofs is a haze of red tracked changes. I am hoping Mark will be able to see what on earth is going on. I have cut more than 5,000 words, which in retrospect seemed very surplus. I have even cut a surplus character and feel much better for it. I think it is called catharsis, and I hope it makes sense.
On the suggestion of the heavenly Julie Myerson, doyenne of novelists here in the UK, I added a scene to lend weight to a character's change of heart. Now I am waiting for Mark to tell me it is OK at last, or whether I need to do it all again.
The paper version, dog-eared and covered in orange and green felt pen, messy writing and random blobs (mine), ultra-neat pencil comments (Helen the editor - meticulous and sometimes quite alarming in her perspicacity -- I would never dare to sneak some plot elision under her discerning nose), and more pencil from Mark (including pointing out his favourite funny line in the book).
Lorne Forsyth, the moving spirit behind the relaunch of E&T Books, came in for the end of the meeting, and the atmosphere became very jolly when we began to discuss having a Cava tasting for the launch. This is how I imagined publishing -- very personal, but professional, humming with creative ideas and enthusiasm and fun. I am so delighted to find a little pocket of old-fashioned Bloomsbury life, not just thriving but relaunching, with me on board.
Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Learn more