Thursday, November 26, 2009

Page proofs

Today the UPS guy delivered my page proofs for Song of Scarabaeus - exciting stuff! As a project editor I was on the other end of this process hundreds of times, but this is the first time I've played the author's role.

Page proofs are the typeset manuscript showing the layout exactly as it will appear in the finished book, but the pages aren't bound. These days, page proofs are created directly from the author's electronic file, so there's little actual typing involved.

The page proofs show the inside design of the book. For novels, design is a fairly simple matter (compared with text books, which is what I'm used to). My design uses a scarab icon on each chapter opening page, and a futuristic font for the chapter numbers and header (my name on the left - yay! - and the book title on the right). The relevance of the scarab is that my heroine Edie has an implanted scarab shell between her collarbones, and it has great significance for her.

So far, I've gone through the proofs checking that both the copyeditor's and my corrections from the copyedited manuscript were taken in. Next I have to read the whole thing for a final check - my last chance to make any changes (and at this stage, the author pays for changes other than typesetter errors). The publisher hires a proofreader to do the same thing - checking corrections were taken in, and giving the book a final read for other errors. As an editor, I am of course paranoid about any errors slipping through!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Perfecting the pitch

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet my agent Kristin Nelson, something that probably wouldn't have happened for a while except that my local RWA chapter invited her to be the guest speaker at our special end-of-year pitching workshop. Tucson's weather put on a good show, of course, but as there is nothing to actually do in Tucson we stuck to good food and good conversation, even bringing along the husbands for Friday night Thai. Overall I think we talked more mattresses than manuscripts - not at all a bad thing for someone (me) who craves a good night's sleep. Also, it was a pleasure to meet the bounding and occasionally squeaking Chutney!

At Saturday's meeting Kristin talked about perfecting the pitch (specifically in query letters). There's plenty about this on her blog, but to summarize:

Determine your plot catalyst (called the inciting incident in screenplay parlance). This is the event that sets the story in motion and should happen in the first 30 pages.

Shape the paragraph by adding the following:
a) Backstory elements
b) Other relevant plot elements
c) Character elements
d) A combination of the above

Aim for around 6-10 sentences. It should read like a back cover blurb.