Six weeks of pacing around the study came to an end yesterday: the draft of my next novel came back from the editor. Well, the report came back; the actual manuscript will need a van to get it here (more on this a bit later).
First of all, I read the letter, then I read the advice on how to use the report (though I’ve used Cornerstones before), and then, after a good stiff drink, I read the report.
To say that I’m rather pleased with myself doesn’t begin to cover it.
I’m not going to bore you with the whole thing, but there are a few things that I look for in an editor’s report which will tell me whether or not I’ve hit the mark. I hit all of them, but the one I’m most proud of is ‘effortless’. I’ve hit three out of three effortless‘s so far and I’m pretty chuffed because that’s exactly what I’m aiming for: I want to make writing look easy, even though it isn’t. This was especially difficult for the current novel because, at seven hundred pages, it’s the longest piece of work I’ve attempted so far, and holding a reader’s attention over that length is no walk in the park.
Of course there are a fair number of problems that will need reworking, but the biggest problem with the draft is that from a commercial point of view it’s way too long. It’s unlikely that any agent would pick up a seven hundred page book from an author who has never been published through the traditional channels. Even more worrying is that I’m not even sure how eBook readers feel about erotic literary epics.
I did know this would be a problem, but I wanted to get the story down on paper (metaphorically speaking) before deciding what to do about it. So now, I need to take a few months away from the manuscript and mull over what to do about it. My editor suggested two possible courses of action:
- Leave the novel structured as it is and see what happens.
- Rewrite the book as a series of three novels and go again.
I don’t have a preference yet, and that’s probably a good thing. Hurrying a revision means you’ll just paper over the cracks while the underlying problems remain untouched. This is my finest work to date; it deserves me at my best to make it even better.
And it reinforces my view that no book (no matter its genre or how it’s published) should go out unless it’s been looked over by an experienced editor.