Step by Step ...

I think that many readers have the impression that an author "writes" the book, the editor checks the grammar, typos and so on, and the publisher does the layouts, conversions (for eBooks) and so on, an artist perhaps creates the cover, and that's it, the book goes to the printing and ... I'm afraid it doesn't quite work like that. 

For a start when the author sends the finished MS to the publisher, he (in my case) will have written it, gone back over it several times, and hopes he has sewn it up. Certainly you hope you've caught all the plot holes, gaps, characters who mysteriously change names, and other characters who appear out of nowhere and vanish again. And then the editor gets hold of it. What you may have fondly thought was a 'finished' project turns out to need a lot more work. This is one reason why publishing a new book can take anywhere from one to three years. If, like me, you are an Indie author using a Joint Venture system, it is usually six months to a year from first submission to final release, in the traditional publishing houses, anywhere from a year to three years is considered good.

Why should this be so? 

The answer is quite simple. The "editor's" task is much more than simply catching typos and stray commas. It involves looking at the story as a whole. Is it "readable"? Does it grip your attention? Many people (including some of us authors) would like to think their work does meet those criteria, but then, we are stood far to close to the story, and the editor sometimes has to prick our egos and insist that we rewrite bits where we perhaps got lost in our own writing. This is called "developmental" editing, and believe me it does make a difference. By identifying where narrative and dialogue are either stifling the flow, or need to be enhanced to improve the story, the developmental editor isn't trying to "take over" the story or change it, but rather encouraging the author to do a bit of thinking, to see it as a "reader" will see it, and give the reader something to really enjoy or to grip their imagination.

Even the really big name authors go through this process, which explains why it can take a year or more to get their books from "first draft" to bookshelf in the bookstore with that all important "Best Selling Author" tag on the display as you enter the shop. Indies, like myself, may never see that big display, or that tag - partly because we are unlikely to have the big marketing budget behind us - but we can never hope to achieve it either unless our published work is every bit as professionally finished and presented as theirs. 

My latest book, Harry Heron; Savage Fugitive, takes Harry and his friends to a harsh new world in enemy hands. It has take a lot of work between my editor and myself to get it smoothed out and almost to the point of publication. We are nearly there, just a little more work needed to finish it properly. As the fourth book in the series it needs to show what you would expect in the characters as they grow and develop, and it must be consistent with the worlds/universe I created in the first three. I think (and my editor is at last satisfied) that we have achieved that, so here is a little taster from the book ...

The launch dipped then steadied as Harry concentrated on coaxing it to bring them down in as normal a landing as possible. He knew that AI stood for artificial intelligence, but the brain of this little launch seemed to be losing intelligence. He had no idea why, but he didn’t have time to speculate. He could only persuade. 

“Come on, Delta Two Four, just a little farther now. There is a good landing place to the right. Swing five degrees right, please. There! Now, straight ahead and descend gently. Activate your landing systems, if you please.”

“This is not normal,” the launch complained.“You should be operating my systems, not telling me to do it for you.”

“I know it’s not as you prefer it, but these are not normal events, and I need you to help me.” Harry hoped the launch would be able to keep its system operational until they were on the ground. He could feel it losing parts of itself, and he tried to estimate how much time he had before it failed.

The ground was coming up fast now. 

“Brace yourselves,” Harry called over his EVA comlink. “I don’t think we’re going to land softly.”


The series titles include:


and will soon include ...

Harry Heron; Savage Fugitive    

I am very pleased to be able to say that my titles are now also available from Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Google Play, and many more electronic and paper booksellers. I hope you will enjoy them.

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