Our Child of Two Worlds – into copyedits

A quick note to say that Jo my editor has come back to me on Our Child of Two Worlds, she is very happy, and we are through to copyedits. 

Thank heavens.

Publication pencilled in for November although slipping to January 2022 is not beyond the bounds of possibility.  I know, I’m impatient too.  The pandemic has thrown timetables awry.

Copyediting works at the level of scene, paragraph and sentence, not least as the draft has piled on the pounds as I worked on it.  I’m looking forward to this, not least because it holds no fears – it is getting the book into shape, not arguing about what type of book it is and what exactly to focus.

I know so much more about writing a sequel now!

Editing is important feedback, and certainly made Our Child of the Stars a clearer, better paced, and more focused book.  You don’t always agree with the editor’s edicts – so what do you do?

It reminds me of a quote which summed up the issue with feedback.  Is feedback right, and what do you do about it?

There is good advice out there, but a writer must walk a knife’s edge. They must be humble and open minded enough to accept criticism and be willing to change. Yet, they must be confident enough in their own style to ignore bad advice. The problem is telling the two types of advice apart.

(Quote from Petewood – literally some random guy on the same writing bulletin board I use) 

I think it goes broader than style but to intent. And it is not necessarily that advice / feedback is bad.

One of the crucial things I learned from writing groups is the necessity to accept feedback that you don’t like may be right – but also the possibility that some advice offered firmly may not be right for you, or this story.  Some people hand down advice like they have tablets of stone on Mount Sinai.

That’s why in addition to tenancy, ability, and luck, I would always say ‘learn how to take feedback as dispassionately as you can, and know what to do with it’. You will also get contradictory feedback.

Jo and I agree what this book is trying to be.  Therefore, pointed in the same direction, I can judge her notes as trying to get us down the road.  Maybe her concerns will be met her way, or another way I will find, or maybe but not often, it will be a no.

Bring it on.

Paperback launch US and Canada

Cheery news. I am out in paperback in the States and Canada on Tuesday 2nd Feb.  This is satisfying and marks the end of my debut life.  The last launch of Our Child of The Stars.  And if you’ve read the book, and its origin story, you’ll understand why being on sale in the States feels very right.  (It has been out in hardback and ebook for ten months.)

Here are some buying links

It is on sale through Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo (the biggest Canadian bookseller) and Amazon and Nook and so on.  Of course people can order it and IndieBound.com helps you find indepedendent stores.

This combines usefully with my other cheery news.  Which is that I sent Our Child of Two Worlds (Draft Four) back to my editor last week, some weeks ahead of schedule.  It’s largely there and I hope on track for a launch August-to-autumn. 

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club appearance

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club video. During lockdown this London based but wider minded group asked lots of authors to do them a film. I talk about the book, ‘wanting’ to be a writer, men, and other stuff.  Revel in the technical skill (had to do a second take for second half.) Phil who edited it did a good job.

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club is an informal meetup for published authors to read to a group – it has been going for a while in various venues and since lockdown one has been doing a video a week or more online. Interests cover SF, Fantasy, Horror and literary people surprised to discover fantasy readers are erudite and interested. Follow them on Facebook and You Tube. It was a part of exploring the genre world for me, which I knew a bit, and understanding better how writing and publishing works.

In which I change agents

You could already have seen this news. Why not subscribe to my newsletter?

My agent Rob is moving out of agenting.  He’s sorry to go and I’m sorry to lose him. Perceptive and thoughtful, Rob picked my book from the slush-pile and got it to fly.  Who knows if Cory would have been published without him? (At least not as quickly or as well.)  He’s taught me a lot and I’m grateful.

It prompted some philosophical musings on publishing, but first the facts.

Fortunately, Rob can still give me his feedback on the next draft of Our Child of Two Worlds, so I will have that continuity.   Check out his latest books, The Toymakers and Paris by Starlight.

Rob is not one to leave you in the lurch.  I have a new agent, Alex Cochran of C&W, one of the larger agencies (and as it happens, the outfit who already partner Rob in handling my film rights).  Alex was on my top agents to try list, both for my unpublished novel, and for Cory. He likes the book, and its cross-genre appeal.  I’m optimistic Alex can help me navigate the strange waters ahead.  Getting the second book finished is the priority and then, Next Big Thing.

And the moral of this is, that publishing is a rum old game.  So many people assume that it’s all slog finishing that book and sending it out, but once you get the agent, all is plain sailing.  A book a year and the fifth book will win the Booker, the Hugo, or be in the Richard and Judy Bookclub. 

Real writing careers are more complicated. Famously George R R Martin wrote three books which were successes and the fourth, Armageddon Rag in the eighties, flopped.  He moved into TV and editing anthologies for a decade. 

Agents and editors move on, or fall out, there’s a merger or a start-up.  That brilliant idea doesn’t come off, the sequel doesn’t come off, or indeed, there is suddenly a nasty little virus. Many old hands say it’s harder now to have a steady career than in their youth.

That’s why I guess three things for authors I’ve come to realise, catching up with the wisdom of more established writers.

  • Write for joy. There will be days you hate it, but overall if you don’t enjoy it, there are other things to do.  In fact, people who write primarily for themselves can be very happy authors.
  • Make each work as good as you can.
  • Don’t define your self-worth purely by the financial and critical success of your work. 

Online Discussion Sunday 7th June 2.30 pm

I am discussing what makes us human on Zoom with another writer, full details here.

It is pay what you like. book to get the Zoom details, and I hope you will come.

If you hurry you can also see the top secret cover of Our Child of Two Worlds which they have used by mistake… and which will probably be replaced very soon…

 

 

 

Paperback Writer 19th September

It’s a month till the UK launch of the paperback of Our Child of the Stars. (Thursday 19th Sept.) Anyone who wants one can pre-order it now from all good bookshops and the usual online retailers.

I’ve been blown away by the support and interest I’ve had from family, friends, and colleagues. I’ll take a little bit more of your patience if I can.

Pre-orders count towards the first week of sales, helpful for the charts. And also, not every shop will have it in, but most shops can order it.

The oddity of the way publishing works is that having devoted masses of effort to promoting the e-book, audio-book, and the hardback – despite the paperback being crucial to its commercial success – the paperback often gets less of a push. Although my publishers are doing some good things, which is more than some people get.

If you are on good terms with a bookshop or in a book group which might like it, let me know. The paperback has Readers Notes which I can share.

Word of mouth – or its shiny new friend, sharing on social media – really helps. If you feel moved to share the details I will be pushing out, I’d be grateful.

And the national press has been very generous to the book. In this anniversary of Woodstock and the Moon Landings, exactly why I decided to write about a childless American couple adopting an alien in 1969, remains a bit of a mystery. But most people who read it are not disappointed.

‘heartfelt, richly imaginative and gripping’ (SciFiNow)

‘sympathetic characterisation and fine storytelling’ (Guardian)

‘compelling… the same combination of science fiction and heart-tugging tenderness that Stephen King does so well.’ (Grazia)

‘An out of this world winner’ (Weekend Sport)

‘This strong and generous first novel wears its heart on its sleeve and embeds all the thrills and chills in credible human, and non-human, emotions.’ (Daily Mail)

‘A pleasing, big-hearted read’ (Financial Times)

‘Wholly fresh and intensely gripping’ (Interzone)

‘a wonderfully emotional, heart-warming journey of what it really means to be a parent’ (Los Angeles Times)

Thank you for listening.

Readings and Book Signings in February

I am planning several readings, workshops and signings. Details will be updated as I have them.

CENTRAL LONDON Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, (SRFC). 6.45pm, Tuesday 12 February, 

Venue is Gollancz (part of the same company as my publisher) Carmelite House, 50 Victoria Embankment, EC4Y 0DZ. The other reader is Adrian Selby

A venue they may use in future is the Star of Kings pub, 126 York Way, Kings Cross, London N1 0AX.

Book via the SRFC Facebook. Usual format, ie entrance fee (but free drinks and free books), books on sale, two different authors and a Q+A.  Friendly genre-literate crew.

***

ENFIELD – Saturday 9 February – Signing at Waterstones 12-2pm, just turn up.

The manager is very supportive so please come and help her!

***

BRISTOL – Max Minerva’s Wonderful Books. 7pm Tuesday 19th February

New independent bookshop close to ‘the famous Henleaze Waitrose’- yes, my mum gave that description. 39 North View, Westbury Park, Bristol BS6 7PY. Tickets from them, includes drinks, nibbles and a discount on the book

Signed copies; Forbidden Planet, Shaftesbury Avenue – can be ordered signed from local stores while stocks last; Goldsboro Books, Cecil Court; Waterstones Covent Garden and Waterstones Trafalgar Square. Max Minerva from the 19th.

Book industry new commitment on professionalism

I’ve not been long around the publishing business.  However, it’s clear that like pretty much every other part of society, there can be issues around fair and respectful behaviour.

Conventions without harassment policies have got themselves into tremendous messes and failed to halt abusive behaviour.  A culture where alcohol is not unknown poses specific issues.   I am aware of one particular writers organisation which has just had to draw up a code.

The work by the Society of Authors, the agents’ representatives, the Publishers Association, and the Booksellers Association needs to be the start of being better.

https://www.societyofauthors.org/SOA/MediaLibrary/SOAWebsite/SOA/Industry-Commitment_FINAL.pdf

Boring technical glitch ignore if not interested in RSS

I’ve had trouble with my RSS feed.

However, it works through feedly and I have synced the feed to my Goodreads Author page – so the feed works.   And apparently Chrome can’t read RSS without a free Chrome extension.  So it might just be using Chrome.

Following me on Twitter and subscribing to my newsletter are great ways to keep in touch.

I’m seeking advice