by Kate Pearce
You sit back in your chair, a calm smile on your face and stare at those wonderful words-The End. You’ve done it. You’ve achieved something that many people can only dream about. You’ve written a book, you’ve edited and polished it to perfection and now you’re ready to send it off to your publisher.
I know, I can just imagine all your happy little smiles of remembrance. That’s how it works, right?
OR DOES IT?
1. Your editor calls and wants revisions. Resentfully you agree to look at the ‘suggestions’ even though you know the book is PERFECT just as it is.
2. You send the book back. Sometimes this stage can go on and on until you seriously want to leap through the internet and strangle your editor. (but that might just be me) Somehow, despite your mumblings the book actually seems to be even more perfect!
3. You send off a pristine clean copy wrapped in bubble wrap and extra thick tape just so someone at your publishing house will break a few nails getting the bugger out of the box-passive aggressive payback? Maybe.
4. Your perfect manuscript comes back in an envelope-smelling of pipe smoke, strong cologne, covered in coffee rings and a kipper wedged between page 100 and page 101… Someone has also WRITTEN ALL OVER IT IN RED INK. When you finish weeping and bewailing the bubble wrap trap, you realize that some of the marks and squiggles actually make sense! They are COPY EDITS!
5. Copy edits are annoying. Who cares if you abandoned Great Aunt Trixie at an inn in Southampton and completely forgot to mention her again for the rest of the book, even though everyone else has gone on to London? (see Simply Sinful available Nov 08 for details) Who cares if you get the hero and his identical twin brother mixed up in a crucial sex scene? Apparently someone does.
6. Copy the archaic marks, (with a red pencil please), insert a few sentences about dear Aunt Trixie and send it all back. But remember:
a) this is the only marked-up copy-edited copy of your ms in existence so you’d better pony up for express registered mail or you will not be popular in NY.
7. Sit back and forget about the manuscript until it turns up AGAIN-this time as galleys or page proofs which you usually have a ridiculously short time to get back. Personally, I photocopy the pages I make changes to, send the originals back and insert the copies in the ms. This is a good thing when you get an email saying the originals never arrived…(ditto Simply Sinful)
8. Finally a book cover flat arrives and you get to read the tasteful blurb created for you-and realize they have perpetuated the same mistake from book one. A mistake which you made originally in your initial proposal and one that never got changed. Okay, so the cover doesn’t look historical, but the guy is HOT!
9. Six months after that, the book arrives and you lick it. Well that’s what I do and then I read it.
Yeah, I read it.
Lots of authors can’t do that, because they are worried about what they might have messed up. Here are a few of my favorite literary fantasies about what an author thought when she read her book…
Jane Austen, on reading Mansfield Park: “What on earth was I thinking? That Fanny is a frickin’ wimp, she deserves to be taken and ruined by that gorgeous scoundrel Henry Crawford.”
Margaret Mitchell-“Gosh and darn it, I should’ve just made Rhett take Scarlett upstairs, chain her to the bed and teach her some real manners.”
And then there are the critics…
Here in no particular order are the three most asked questions by my readers.
1.Why do you have a character called Caroline in Pleasurable Bargains and a character also called Caroline in Simply Sexual? Are they the same person?
–polite answer-“No they aren’t the same person, Caroline was a very popular name in Georgian Regency England so I just decided to use it twice.”
–real answer-“I don’t write anything down, character names, plots, family trees, etc-how the hell would I know if I used the same name twice?”
2. Roping the Wind starts before Where have all the Cowboys gone? but WHATCG? came out first. Why is that?
–polite answer-“Gosh, you are absolutely right. Thank you for pointing that out.”
–real answer-“I had no idea I was going to write another book in this series until Jay turned up in his brother’s book all grumpy and surly and hot and sexy…so I just wrote it that way, okay?”
3. Why does Lord Valentin Sokorvsky in Simply Sexual have a Russian surname if his father is an English Marquess? (shut up Madelynne Ellis)
–polite answer-“Ah, because his mother was a Russian princess who gave him the title and name so he uses that because he doesn’t get along with his father.”
–real answer-“He just turned up like that in my head and okay, his mother was a Russian princess but that doesn’t really explain why his half-brother from another mother is called Sokorvsky as well does it? Damn it.
Apart from the above, I never want to change my books. I’ve realized that they were as good as I could get them at that point in my writing career. As writers, we’re always looking back on ourselves but it s
houldn’t stop us getting better.
So here’s my question for you all…
Which classic piece of literature (and I mean that very widely) would you change the ending of, and which one, if any of your own creations would you love the opportunity to do again? </span