Emma Cox - children's author and winner of the New Children's Author Prize 2015 - continues to share her experiences of working with a publishing house for the first time as her debut, Malkin Moonlight, edges closer to publication.
So many exciting things have happened in the life of my book since my last post for Writers & Artists: I have learned lots about the publishing process and about editing and writing. I’ve also had many happy surprises, and I intend to keep these posts coming so those of you who are going to have books published this year, or next, have a bit more of an insight into some of the things you can expect and look forward to.
There was a quiet couple of months at the start of summer. I think it's important to mention that, because if your default position, like mine, is to worry when you've heard no news, it's good to know that quiet periods are normal and to be expected. Then, towards the end of August when I was away on holiday with my friend Katherine, I had my first lovely surprise. I received an email attachment with the rough copy of the front cover for Malkin Moonlight. Seeing my own name on the front cover of a book was the strangest thing. I wish this moment for you too - whether you are an author, an illustrator, or both - as it’s a wonderful feeling. Within the same email was also the news that my book was going to be in Bloomsbury’s catalogue for the Frankfurt Book Fair. This wasn’t something I had even considered, so I was delighted and surprised by this. It felt a little as if my book was off on holiday as well.
At the start of October half term I received my manuscript back with notes from my editor Zoe. I still love getting envelopes from Bloomsbury, and this was the edit to do with structure and plot (so quite a long edit, but I had a two week holiday to do it in!) I sent it back almost a year to the day that I had sent the original manuscript to the competition. [Emma won the New Children's Author Prize 2015, which you can read more about here]
The tracked edit was tightening everything up: this took a weekend in November. I’d never used or seen tracked edits, so this was something new. You click on a little coloured box and comments pop up on that word or sentence. Zoe wrote helpful or complimentary or just cheerful comments all the way through, and often I’d click on the box and laugh out loud. I enjoyed the process and it made my brain think about writing in a completely different way. In November I also received the suggested back cover copy and the latest front cover with the strap line. It felt as if the outside of the book was wrapping itself safely around the words it was to contain. So many people were working on the book in different ways by now and I felt very honoured that all this hard work and expertise was to help me, and to make my story the best it could be.
Just before Christmas I was asked to write my Acknowledgements Page. I was very excited to be able to thank the people I love and who have supported me. I always enjoy reading Acknowledgements Pages and getting an insight into authors’ lives. I was also asked to write my letter of introduction to booksellers which is to accompany the bound proof.
It was lovely to receive the Bloomsbury Christmas card - a beautiful illustration from The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell. I read this book over the holidays and it was a magical, tingly book to read at Christmastime. I also got some chocolates which I sat and ate with my friend James while having a celebratory drink and feeling really excited about what 2016 was going to bring! One of the first things it did bring was a bouncing baby boy for my editor Zoe, which was lovely news to receive.
Now it’s February and this week I have finished the copyedit: my deadline was Thursday. I love deadlines: I love the feeling of them and the structure they provide when you have an important edit to do. It’s half term again, so things fell just perfectly as I love to have the clear space of a day in front of me to really concentrate without interruption. The writers and artists reading this will know that fantastic feeling of utter absorption; those lovely days when things go well and you’ve transported yourself, not noticing how much time has passed and how far away you’ve been.
The copyedit, however, doesn't quite promote this feeling of pure creativity, so it was a brand new discipline for me! This is the edit where you are looking for continuity errors, or the repetition of a word on a page, or questioning the choice of a particular word, or considering whether the meaning of the sentence has come across as you meant it, or whether it could be improved in terms of clarity or flow.
Your mind really lifts away from the story and gets quite clinical: you become a surgeon of words in a way - precise, methodical, and looking at the tiniest things. It was very interesting to click on the tracking boxes - this time by two editors - to see the things they are looking out for.
The next step will be the manuscript going into production - hopefully next week - and then the first proofs will come out. Some of these I think will go to book critics, so I'm now bracing myself for my first criticism, but also so excited to hold my own book in my hand.
Just quickly before I sign off, one more exciting surprise happened this week, in that the illustrations for inside the book were emailed to me for my comments. They are by a wonderfully talented artist called Rohan Eason and it was very exciting to see my characters brought to life through his pictures.
So there I am. The proof copies will be next and, fingers crossed, the actual book will be published in July this year. (This year!) I hope you've found this useful I wish you all every success on your journey to publication. If I can do it, so can you!
Malkin Moonlight by Emma Cox is published by Bloomsbury later this year. Find out more about titles and buy the latest releases from Emma Cox at Bloomsbury.com.