My initial idea for this post could be summed up in
the cliché: If I’d known then what I know
now. My list of pre-conceived notions about How Publishing Works is as long
as the proverbial piece of string.
In the early, heady days of securing a book deal, I thought I knew a lot of things. How editing would be a matter of having my story checked over for grammatical errors & perhaps shifting the odd scene or one. Even when I understood the purpose of a copy editor, I still had some vague notion it also had to do with ‘checking things’ – in some random, nothing-to-do-with-me sort of way.
Lol, as they say…
Working on my first book was an enormous learning curve & soon disabused me of many notions. In spite of the terror, I began to enjoy the editing process. At heart, I’m a reviser & have never found it a chore to listen to my inner critic. And formal editing has taught me to respect & be in awe of the professional editorial side of creating a book.
Another preconceived notion of mine was, you get the cover you want & nobody will question the title of your book. I am here to tell you, this is only partly true. As someone published by an almost unique press that meets its authors more than halfway, I’ve been inordinately lucky with my titles & covers. There have been a few changes & tweaks but I love all of them. I know there are authors still weeping because they hated the covers imposed on them. I can’t imagine how that must feel & it took me a long time to learn that in Big Press World, it is industry practice. Small presses rock, in more ways than one!
For years I was a cover/title snob. All those books with ‘Girl’ in the title & all those girls, wandering off, away from the camera. I swore I would never, ever become part of that particular club. I was yet to grasp the fact that it’s what happens in the bookshops that counts. It’s shelf appeal, dear reader, pure & simple. (And there are copyright reasons why so many girls & women on covers have their faces concealed. Apparently it can cost more if the model’s face is visible.) Add the fact that readers prefer to make up their own minds about how characters look & it all falls into place.
Back in April last year, I wrote this:
Like it or loathe it, Girl in the title of a contemporary novel, however ubiquitous, appears to sell books. As a woman who writes largely about women (albeit about girls as well), I have long eschewed reaching for the Girl word. And yet I find myself unexpectedly in love with a title I conjured several months ago for this story.
(You can read the entire post here.)
‘This story’ is my third book, Wild Spinning Girls. I’ve broken both the rules it seems, & gone plural, but for all the right reasons. The details are in that previous blog post. Suffice it to say, telling the story of Ida & Heather; discovering the title within the finished narrative, convinced me Girl is good. Girls is even better.
Here then is my new book with its lush cover. With its pretty title.