FROM THE RIVER BANK…An Occasional Newsletter
By Kay Jennings
There is something about finishing the first draft of a new novel that is simultaneously amazing and completely overwhelming.
The amazing part is “OMG…I did it again!” Yay, me. The overwhelming part is “Now what?” Well, the ‘now what?’ part is easier this time, as I know what I’m doing. However, I am also making some changes in my support team on this third book, so there is uncertainty on that front.
One thing I’m NOT changing – ever, I hope – is working with one of the best cover designers in the business, Claire Brown. Claire lives in Manhattan, and we’ve never met, but somehow this artist knows what I want even before I know it. Claire was the art director at Hachette Book Group for 14 years before starting her own design firm, and she has worked with some of the big-name authors in my field. I am very, very lucky to be working with her. Very, very, very lucky!
Last week, she sent me three possible designs for the Code Tsunami cover, and all three were brilliant. Claire, my marketing whiz hubby, and I all agreed and chose one of the three. This is a difficult part of the publishing business because my cover has to do a lot. First, it must be immediately identifiable as a mystery/crime novel. I can’t go with a sunny teacup and kitty cat cover, for example, because that would say to readers it’s a ‘Cozy’ mystery, which my books are not. I can’t feature a romantic couple, because even though there is a romantic subplot in my books, they are not classified as ‘Romance’. My cover must be genre specific or I don’t stand a chance with the 9 million other books out there currently.
The really tough part is the series angle. I want A Port Stirling Mystery book to look like it’s part of my series. But, at the same time, I don’t want them to look identical to each other. Because of my settings on the Oregon coast, water has been a theme on the first two covers, and I wanted that to carry forward in book 3. But for this story, the water needs to look ominous. Claire nailed it.
While this is going on, I’m simultaneously going through the book again and re-writing, correcting errors in spelling, grammar, and/or story facts and timelines. I’ve worked professionally as a writer and editor, so my first drafts are usually mostly clean on typos, etc, but I can and do goof up on story facts, characters, and timelines.
After I write ‘The End’ of the first draft, I set the manuscript aside for a couple of days – that’s the phase I’m in currently. I’ll begin the rewrite tomorrow or Saturday, and then it goes to my editor on March 5. While I wait on the editor to work her magic, I write the back cover blurb and advertising copy, update my author bio and photo, and tweak my book marketing plan. My editor will have it for three weeks, and then I’ll spend as much time as it takes incorporating her feedback and doing another rewrite and polish.
After that, I have four people who have been beta readers on my first two books, and I hope they will take on Code Tsunami as well. They are sharp-eyed, and have caught both hilarious and egregious mistakes that got by both me and my editor.
Once I’m satisfied that all eyes on the manuscript have caught every error, it goes to a book formatter, who prepares paperback, hard cover, and e-book versions for publication. Many indie authors do this part themselves, and I could probably learn it, but I don’t want to. I’d rather spend my time on the two things I’m good at – writing and growing vegetables. But I do need to look into producing audiobooks; they are a growing, important part of book delivery.
If I had to guess today, and I will for you, dear friends, Code Tsunami will likely be ready to publish by early May, and I’ll be doing the cover reveal soon!