Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Stuff -- Editing and Cover Art and Cetera

Well, I didn't do much writing in March -- a little over 4K words :P -- but I got A Hidden Magic through edits, which was a much larger job than I expected it to be. Vincent, my editor on this project, is sneaky with comments; there are all these little notes that look like nothing when you glance over them, but end up rippling through the manuscript. [laugh/flail] I thought I'd be done in a few days, but it actually took me right up until deadline. I'll know better for next time.

This is my first novel, so I was half expecting structure-level changes. Not hoping for them or anything :/ but I've heard from other writers over the years about having to add chapters or rip out characters, add or subtract subplots, change the whole ending, that sort of thing. I'll admit to a certain amount of trepidation while waiting for edits to actually show up, and a whole lot of relief when there was nothing on that level. Vincent said reading and editing the book were a lot of fun, which is great; it's always cool to get a good opinion from someone who's not a friend, you know?

I went through the manuscript a few times and found a lot of little things I wanted to change or fix, aside from editorial comments. Some of them were mistakes which the proofreader (who gets the manuscript next) might well have caught, but I'm glad I saw them anyway. I'm a pretty good editor of my own work, but no matter how often I look over a story, there's always something, you know? And with 72K words to play with, there's a lot of room for little somethings to hide in.

I filled out the cover art request form in mid-month, and that was a lot more difficult than I'd expected, mainly because I was trying hard to be reasonable and not request anything outside the bounds set by a tiny budget. If I had a few thousand dollars and a couple of years to get on someone's schedule, that'd be something else -- heck, my first choice would be Colleen Doran, whose LOTR art and more elaborate Ovanan (these sort of elf-like aliens) from her comic book A Distant Soil I actually had in mind while developing my elves and their court. The look isn't exact, but the mood and the esthetic is about right, especially for the evil Ovanan, who are beautiful and decadent. Last I saw on her blog, though, her schedule's full for like the next year or so, and I imagine she's horribly expensive. I don't remember exactly what Torquere pays for cover art, but I think it's somewhere in the $50-75 range. Humm, I guess George Perez is out too, right...? [rueful smile]

So I was trying to be reasonable, and figure out what to ask for that'd be doable with stock photos and some Photoshop skill. I gave a few possibilities and a lot of descriptions, and I'll have to see what comes of it.

One thing I did discover, though, while browsing through stock photo sites, is that some of the photographers who upload photos to these places are incredibly optimistic. They apparently think it's worth their while to upload, say, women's portraits to the People / Portraits / Men section, apparently on the belief that their photography is Just So Gorgeous that someone who's specifically looking for a male photo will see these female portraits and instantly think, "OMG! These are absolutely breathtaking! I must have them! I'll rework my entire project concept to use female photos instead of male, just so I can use These Pictures!!" [/sarcasm]

On the other hand, maybe they're just incredibly lazy and can't be bothered to sort out their pictures properly. I suppose that's possible too. :P Whichever it is, the People / Portraits / Men section of one site I looked at was at least 25% female, which annoyed me quite a lot. It took hours to go through all the pictures, and it might have taken 25% fewer hours if the photographers would pay attention to the damn section headers and put their photos where they belong. [mutter]

I still have to fill out the marketing form, with a blurb and an excerpt and such. That should be fun; I've never had a chance to do that before.

Now that the bulk of that's done, though, I'm looking forward to getting back to writing. It's exciting to be getting that much closer to having an actual novel published, but I've missed writing for a while. I've always known I prefer writing fresh to editing (doesn't everyone?) but I've never had this much editing to do with my previous stories. And the fact that my last big push with HM before submitting it was essentially a months-long restructuring, with just as much editing and fussing around at the structural level as actual writing, means that I'm pretty burned out on editing and fussing and reworking this story anyway. :/ I'm at the point where I feel like I can't tell any more whether it's good or not; I'm too close to all the bits and pieces, characters and plot threads and fiddly little details of the world, to be able to see it the way a reader would. I suppose that's normal too, but it's still frustrating.

Oh, and I submitted a story, too, just a bit before midnight. I was working on something earlier for an anthology called Triangulation: End of the Rainbow, but it came out too long. I made a few passes through it, cutting and condensing and trying to get it down to within spitting distance of the mostly-firm upper wordcount limit of 5K, then I set it aside when edits came in. At around 11:30 tonight (last night? on the 31st, anyway) I remembered it and took another quick look. It's at about 5500, which isn't too bad. It's a dark paranormal (no sex [grin]) and I think it'll be an unusual treatment of the theme -- I hope so, anyway. So I sent it along, and we'll see what the editor thinks. At worst I'll have another slip to add to my rejection file, and at best he'll love it despite it being a little longer than he'd like. Keep a set of virtual fingers crossed for me on this one. :)

Anyway, adding things up for March:

1 pt. -- 1 story submission
1 pt. -- 4K words of writing
14 pts. -- 72K words of editing
16 pts. total

Koala Challenge 9

Whee! :D


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