Yesterday, Rope Enough (The First Romney and Marsh File) received its 1000th comment on Amazon UK. That feels like a milestone. I honestly have no idea how many times the book has been downloaded, but it does run into tens of thousands. That’s because it’s always been free to download as my try-before-you-buy initiative. In that regard, I suppose, it’s been quite successful. However, the really important statistic linked to this milestone, for me, is what the starred feedback rating average amounts to. Rope Enough is currently enjoying a 4.4* out of a possible 5* average. And that is a wonderful feeling of validation for my writing. That is something for me to celebrate.
A couple of weeks ago I received the line-edited copy of Deep State – Acer #4 – back from Amazon. Because of other commitments, I’ve not been able to have a sustained run at it, so, an hour in the morning before work and sometimes an hour before bed. It’s taken me a long time to get through it. Much longer, I suspect, than many of the other books adopted by the Kindle Scout programme, which are overwhelmingly American in pedigree and style. This is because I write British English and the Kindle Scout editors are ‘correcting’ the manuscripts for the US market.
The manuscript is returned to the author with all the suggested changes made and detailed in the mark-up pane of an MS Word document. If one is pitching one’s work at an American market it’s easier to read through and adopt, or not, the points made. What I had to do was to open my original MS Word document alongside the ‘corrected’ version, search for the suggestions and then incorporate them, or not, into my original document. Continually switching between documents like that is a very time consuming and laborious process. But it felt like my best option.
I had to do it this way because of the huge number of changes that had been suggested with regard to the differences between British and American presentation and language. A good example of this is that American prose makes use of double speech marks as the norm. While UK formatting uses single speech marks.
US: Acer said, “These shoes are killing me.”
UK: Acer said, ‘These shoes are killing me.’
See what I mean? And there are so many spelling differences between the two languages – words and letter combinations that crop up regularly.
I had a choice to make: (a) accept the edited manuscript with the double speech marks and other differences of formatting (I just couldn’t because as established last blog-post, Acer and I are British writing for, predominantly, the British English market), (b) accepting the revised version and going through it to change all the formatting and spelling back to British English (I’d rather kill myself) or (c) do what I did – read them alongside each other and make changes to the original, if I agreed with the editor’s comments.
My decisions have also been informed by the not inconsiderable matter of series consistency. To have accepted half of the suggested changes would have made Acer #4 incompatible on various levels with Acers #1, #2 and #3. Not good for anyone reading them in order and not good for anyone who reads #4 and decides to try one of the others.
I hope no one thinks that I’m complaining. I am not. However, I do think that this is something that Amazon need to consider when they select books for publication. Perhaps British editors editing for the British English market would be a step in the right direction.
On the plus side, it soon became apparent that the editor really understood the book and the characters. He made remarks that I had to think hard about. For the record, I found him very professional, insightful and thorough. It’s just that he had a job to do on my book and his employer’s expectations and mine were different for the finished product. I even sensed in a couple of places that he seemed reluctant/sympathetic with some of his suggestions. Maybe that was just wishful thinking on my part.
I’d like to share a couple of cherry-picked comments from the editorial feedback letter: Overall, the manuscript has a fast pace and some excellent plot twists and well-developed characters… The flow of the plot is great and imaginative… The plot is very strong with some nice surprises… Of course, all of those sentences continue with a ‘however’ or a ‘but’ or an ‘although’ but I’m feeling positive today.
Anyway, all done now. Of course, once all the changes were made I had to then read the book again to make sure I hadn’t buggered anything up while I was toying with it. (That was a day of DIY lost.)
The good news is that Deep State – Acer Sansom#4 is about the best it can be. And I think it’s not a bad read. It’s gone back to Amazon now. Pinged off this morning. I’m waiting to hear from them regarding release date. All those who nominated the book in Amazon’s Kindle Scout campaign will get a free e-copy in advance of publication day. Lucky you. And me because I voted for my own book. (There was nothing in the rules to say I couldn’t.)
For those who didn’t get to see the opening sample of the book that was available for reading during the Kindle Scout campaign, here is the first word of the first paragraph of the first chapter as a teaser: ‘The…’
I’m sure you’ll agree from that, it’s gripping stuff.
And now for an update on the millstone. Because it’s my writer’s diary and I should include things that stop me writing as well as everything else.
This week I ran a ring main round for the sockets and a circuit for the lights; disconnected and took out the gas boiler and the gas fire; built the frame for a cupboard in the bathroom; removed some blown plaster from downstairs; did some gardening; cleared out some rubbish and now I’m working on removing all the woodchip wallpaper in preparation for my plastering friend skimming the walls.
On the brightside, literally, the weather seems to be changing for the better. I’ve even started enjoying the odd drink in the garden. Talking of which, my coffee cup beckons…