Building a book
I received my author copies of Thrill Seeker last week, a massive 25 of them! I’ve never had so many before so what else could I do but build a tower and take a pic?
Then it occurred to me, because ours is a snap-happy digital age and I have that modern impulse to record events of minor significance by taking a photo with my phone, this book’s progress has a visual record.
So I thought I’d share.
I haven’t written a book for a few years and this time, more of the process was done electronically. And yet the bedrock, for me, is pen and paper.
When I started writing Thrill Seeker I was making my usual kind of scruffy notes in my usual kind of notebook (and still regularly spilling tea, coffee and wine over them). I also used Scrivener for the first time, and found it useful for structuring my narrative. (Yes, I plot ahead but will also be writing the early chapters as I do this.) Alas, you can’t throw wine over Scrivener. The creative chaos which a plain ol’ notebook invites makes pen and paper the basis of my books. It’s odd looking back at early notes of Thrill Seeker. I hadn’t settled on my characters’ names and many of the ideas weren’t used. But some were, which is why I’ve pixellated out sections of the image!
Generally, as the writing progresses, the word documents increase, and the notebook jottings decrease to become little more than random words, ‘to do’ memos and small ideas to incorporate within scenes. For Thrill Seeker, I had a spreadsheet to enter word count and keep track of how close I was getting to my goal of 75K. (The book actually turned out to be 90K.)
Then it was pen time once more, and I sat down to read the whole thing again for what felt like the millionth time. This resulted in the neat brick being transformed into a spiky, unwieldy beast with a post-it on every other page. I’m often tempted to skip reading manuscripts as hard copy but experience has taught me it’s vital. The eye catches so many things once you have your text in a different format.
When I’d made all my corrections, I sent the manuscript to my publisher, Black Lace, bang on deadline. Go me! I emailed Thrill Seeker as an attachment. I think my editor reads on an ereader but am not sure. Anyway, she’s quite modern. After a process of discussion and revision, we had a manuscript we were both happy with. There was no more creating for me to do. I later received copy edits as a word doc with track changes and notes from the copyeditor. Most of the changes were minor and related to house style. (For example, it’s Hell, not hell (lower case) at BL Towers!) The copyeditor commented that mine was a ‘robust and well-written story’. I felt as if I’d got my first reader.
Shortly after copyedits were done I received the final page proofs both in the post and as a PDF. This part is always scary and exciting. My words are starting to look like an actual book that will be in the actual shops! I can’t make many changes at this point. And it will be the very last time I read the story from beginning to end. Emily, the editorial assistant at Black Lace, is a joy to work with and made the final stages of the book so easy for me. The page proofs were also read by a proofreader who only had a couple of queries, and who delighted me by saying, “I loved Kristina’s book. It’s definitely graphic but the characters are so, so engaging and the set pieces are beautifully staged. Her punchy style is fabulous – hats off to her for keeping the language/sex moves so varied and fresh! Rude and raunchy, but a lot of fun with terrific emotional/psychological exploration.” My second reader, and my first review! Or that’s how it felt, at any rate.
Thrill Seeker is published on May 9th. Strangely, for me, I’m now working on my next book and am at the early stage of building characters and story. And, yikes, while I’m bumbling around in my notebook, ‘Untitled Book 2’ is listed at Sainsburys, no less! (It will actually be my fifth book, not my second and that publication date is rather ambitious!)
Please join me tomorrow, 19th April, when I’ll be at Justine Elyot’s blog with a post about, um, the erotics of the seaside for Justine’s wonderful Briterotica series! I’ll also be posting the very first sexy excerpt from Thrill Seeker right here, so do stop by and meet some of my characters!
My publishers say: “A sexy and controversial erotic thriller – Fifty Shades Darker than E L James and Sylvia Day.”