Preparing the first 50 pages

Lacey living the good life in Oregon now...
Lacey living the good life in Oregon now...

The past weeks have been used to solicit reader comments from the entire 378 page/ 157k word novel. I’ve interviewed readers after and have sifted through all the various reactions and have a short list of adjustments I’d like to make after further discussions with my editor Vicki Weiland. Most of those adjustments happen beyond the first 50 pages and it is this chunk of the book that is being prepared for submission to various possible buyers. I am with the help of Vicki and another two readers am polishing the 50 pages a bit more. We are not altering the text itself just moving some punctuation marks, grammar and spelling etc… minor but important details. Over the next few days I’ll grind through the text several more times putting all those corrections into the pages. Next, both a one page synopsis and about one paragraph biography will be prepared. All of those materials are then sent as hard copy and on CD to another editor who is going to examine these 50 pages one more time. This is at my editors request and she wants this one final last looking over by someone she trusts before we actually begin submitting the book.

It is very hard to calculate how many passes I’ve made over these 50 pages, how many times I’ve read them, how many times I’ve rewritten them, and how I still have a few subtle details tangled up in a few words that I still feel concerned about whether they are precise enough and capture my intent. You just don’t want a potential buyer to fall upon an undetected error….

Writing a  short biography is hard work. The synopsis has become more fully formed and doesn’t drain me. The cover letter that goes out with each submission remains to be drafted, but one good drafting should do it. So, there it is. Clean up the first 50 pages, biography of half a page, one full page synopsis, and a cover letter. In short order we should begin to post not just the progress of these final details, but the results of the publishers and agencies that I’ll be submitting all this material to.

Dana from Telegraph Hill in San Francisco

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