What I learnt about writing books—part 3

The final cover for The design master plan.

Editing the book and designing covers

If you’ve made it this far through my experience of writing books, well done!  After getting through the majority of writing, it was time to really start editing the book—I’m just talking about the first book here.  I’d roped my mum and daughter into reading it as they are both smart cookies when it comes to books and editing. One year I caught my mother correcting a Christmas letter a dear friend sent her and I was horrified!  Yeah, she had her red pen out and was marking it! Here’s my cautionary tale about getting speed readers to look over a manuscript: they don’t read every word so they miss some spelling and grammatical mistakes.   They did give me a lot of pointers though and I implemented many of them.

I was still very blind to the remaining mistakes but I powered on and after reading it over 100 times, I got to refine my editing skills.  Don’t believe any blog that says writers should read over their manuscript a total of four times.  Four times? My eye!

One very important thing I’d learnt whilst editing is that writing has changed over the past 30 years and that I’d found my style.  No bolt of lightning was going to strike me down because I didn’t follow my teachers’ formats and rules on writing.  I knew that if I was writing about what I was passionate about, that it would be okay.  The saddest thing about editing is that even if you correct a mistake, it can creep back in there—if anyone knows how, please let the rest of the world know.  You’ve also got to make sure that you are correcting the most up to date copy of the manuscript.

Another thing I discovered (for a first time editor) is that it takes a lot longer to edit a book than it does to write.  I had to make each paragraph succinct.  I did a lot of research on the internet about grammar and also got a real editor to look over part of the book to see if I was on the right track.  Turns out I am a pretty good writer.  Yippee!  My editor’s biggest compliment was that she enjoyed reading it so much that she forgot for a while that she was supposed to be editing it. She fined tuned my grammar which was very helpful. Although I don’t think the book was ready before she saw it for a real editor, I wish I’d known what she taught be a couple of years ago.  It would have greatly boosted my confidence too.

Getting the covers done was the next job.  That was a hard thing to start.  I knew the books should all have a similar kind of look to them but what to do…The instructional book needed something to convey the design process.  I enlisted the help of my Illustrator teacher to guide me.  It was like trying to decide how to illustrate the creation of the world in nine drawings.  The other two books took a few goes to get them right.  I knew they all needed to look good as thumbnails on www.amazon.com.  I was going to make quilts and photograph them for the covers but I figured I could probably get the same kind of effect if I did them in Illustrator.

The initial and final cover idea for one of the books. Oh, the other really hard thing to do when writing a book—the title! The initial cover was made when there was only one book of designs. Turns out 340 designs couldn't fit into one book. In the end, the first book ended up with 180 designs and the second has 220 designs.

The initial and final cover idea for one of the books.  The initial cover was made when there was only one book of designs.  Turns out 340 designs couldn’t fit into one book.  In the end, the first book ended up with 180 designs and the second has 220 designs.

 

You may notice with the title on the above book that I got a little egotistical.  The F and S are larger.  This is because they are my initials.  A lot of hard work went into each of these books so I figured, why not?  Oh, the other really hard thing to do when writing a book—the title!  It took the best part of three years to come up with The design master plan.  Any Doctor Who fan might remember The dalek master plan from the sixties.  I figured if they had a plan, I could have one too!

 

Happy writing and quilting,

Fiona

 

 

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