Today’s one of the happiest days of the year – a publication day. One Summer in Italy is sent out into the world … well, it’s sent out to shelves and portable devices, anyway. I hope you like my latest book baby.
The jokey term for a novel ‘book baby’ came into being for a reason, I think. Though a fantastic, joyful event, there’s a lot of hard work involved in giving it life.
Here’s the bullet-point version from my perspective:
- Get an idea for the premise of the book. For One Summer in Italy this came when I was in Italy at Arte Umbria, where I have taught courses and led retreats for several years. The chef and I happened to be taking a break at the same time, sitting in the sun with our feet in the pool, and she told me about being a seasonal worker. I thought, ‘What a great thing for one of my heroines to do’.
- Work on characters and planning.
- Research. Yes, this did involve being in Italy again and taking a host of pictures. ♥ But also a lot of finding and absorbing information on seasonal workers (employees and employers), ex-pat families, the hospitality trade, laws and regulations, web development, homelessness, motorbikes, blood groups, watercolour painting and even Italian cemeteries.
- Write the first draft. This takes months and is punctuated with constant distractions and interruptions. I was thankful for last year’s writing retreat where I wrote nearly a quarter of the first draft and had the joyful experience of being in the place I was writing about … more or less. My imagination added a town and a hotel.
- Write another draft or two
- Send book in
- Receive structural edit. The structural edit covers all the large changes my editor feels will make help me produce the best book I can. Discuss with editor; make decisions on how many suggestions I’ll take up; perform structural edit.
- Send structural edit back
- Receive line edits. Line edits deal with smaller matters, continuity and timeline. I’m timeline-blind so this stage often involves a lot of head scratching whilst wearing a grumpy expression – on my part, anyway. Probably it’s the same for the line editor.
- Send line edits back.
- Receive copy edits. Copy edits deal with punctuation, grammar and anything that hasn’t yet been picked up in another edit.
- Send copy edits back.
- Receive proofs. To proof a book I have to read the whole thing again and indicate any errors I see.
- Send proofs back.
- Write acknowledgments and any dedication.
- Write any backmatter (bonus material) requested.
- Breathe a great sigh of relief.
- Start another book. This usually takes place betwixt and between the above tasks.
I can’t tell you in the same detail what the other side of the process is, carried out by the fab Avon team, but it will include the all-important cover (I LOVE the cover of One Summer in Italy), editing, scheduling, typesetting, promo, marketing and blurb writing. I’m involved in some of those areas too, mainly the promo.
Underpinning the process on both sides is respect, co-operation, negotiation, discussion, and a whole heck of a lot of emails!
But it’s worth it when this is what we end up with: