I used to imagine that the life of a novel started with a writer holed up on their own, sitting at a typewriter plucking at the keys with two clean pieces of white paper and a carbon page tucked neatly in between. Over time, the pages would pile up in a tray and eventually amount to a novel. Once the tome was completed, corrections would be manually made with a red pen and the resulting collection of typed words and pen scratches would make their way to an agent in a manila envelope. The agent would read the dog-eared pages late into the night, and after determining it was a masterpiece, they would present it to a publisher who would send it to a printing press and turn it into a best-selling book that would be displayed on shelves of bookstores in Canada…and hopefully further abroad.
While this fantasy may be filled with romance, the way books are actually published and marketed is much more…technology driven. Books can now be distributed internationally as e-readers without ever seeing a printing press. But even more interesting, is the way that the creation of The Woodcarver’s Model became a truly international collaboration.
The journey for my novel started not at a typewriter, but at a computer. After my first draft was completed, there were no red pens involved. In the world of technology, my partner went through a draft I emailed him. He worked at his computer, put on the “track changes” setting and inserted comments on the side of the document by typing them in. At one point, it seemed there were more comments at the side of the document than there were words in the novel (Scott can be very detail-oriented).
After much time spent meeting, and going through the edits and trying to decide what to keep and what to edit … a solid draft was ready to send out. In the romantic version of this story, the manuscript would be printed, photocopied and mailed away in a large padded envelope. In reality, queries were made by email, with the manuscript attached as a PDF. Responses came into my inbox, not my mailbox.
When Pride Publishing (a division of the Totally Entwined Group) accepted the manuscript, there was no fancy dinner or a discussion of contracts over drinks. They are very nice people, and I would even have paid for dinner, but the publishing company is in Lincolnshire County in England some 6000 kilometres away. Just to give SOME of the romance back, Scott and I opened a bottle of champagne at home and made a nice meal while we looked at a map of The United Kingdom.
Contracts were digitally signed, various social media platforms were organized and an author portal was set up through the publishing company where all of the stages of the book would be processed online.
The manuscript was then turned over to the primary editor Anna Olson (one of three who looked at the manuscript). We exchanged pleasant emails and edits were done on the document via computer using a similar process to what my partner had done. Anna was fastidious and truly made the book far better with her skill and knowledge. Some of the editing started to take a very specific turn in terms of particular locations in Canada mentioned in the book. Out of curiosity, I asked where Anna was working from and discovered that I had been assigned a Canadian editor who worked from Vancouver. In the world of digital publishing, anything is possible.
Various elements of the novel (including cover art etc.) were now bouncing between Toronto and Lincolnshire, England, while edits were bouncing between Toronto and Vancouver. But the global input wasn’t done yet.
Once the editing was done and the book was put to bed, it was time to move into the marketing of the novel. I was introduced to Lori Blantin who would be coordinating the launch of the book, blog tours (where the book is featured in blogs that have a high number of romance readers), cover releases, advanced reader copies for reviews … a whole host of new things to comprehend.
In our correspondence, I asked Lori where she was working from. I was curious because, in terms of time zones, the publisher was five hours ahead of me, the editor was three hours behind me and I wanted to know if there was a “best time” to send emails. Lori assured me that my emails would be handled right away, as we were both in the EST time zone. I asked if she was near Toronto. She explained she was just a little bit south of Toronto … in North Carolina. The publisher in England knows the European market well, and Lori has a thorough knowledge of the American market, so she would be handling the marketing on this side of the pond.
To add to the global flavour, I augmented my outreach with another online promotion company recommended by the publisher. Once again our interactions were all via email and eventually I discovered that this promotion company works internationally and is based in Australia (13 hours ahead of me).
I recently signed a contract for the novel to be turned into an audio book and it is possible that the narrator will be recording from another locale in North America.
And if the book is successful, there may be translations into other languages, which may be done by people in other parts of the world.
So while in some ways it has a little less romance than the publishing days of old, there is something still rather fantastical about this process. I am getting to know people from all over the world, and in time, I hope to get to visit everyone who has had a hand in my novel.
Their expertise and knowledge has meant that The Woodcarver’s Model may be set in Canada, but is truly an international collaboration.
The Woodcarver’s Model will be available for pre-order on March 8th with a general release through Pride Publishing on April 19th.