These beautiful flowers are a gift from my publisher. Yes, you read that right dear readers. In July, Hachette Australia will release my memoir, I Belong to No One, as a paperback and ebook simultaneously. Set in 1960s and 1970s Australia, it is an emotionally engaging tale of a time when women were trapped by the shameful secrets of teen pregnancy, illegitimacy and domestic abuse. As events unfold, the reader gains insight into the reason our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, issued an apology to all those affected by the practices of Forced Adoption. It is a story of loss, but it is also a story of triumph over adversity, and I hope many people will be touched and comforted through reading it.
Recently, I had my first official meeting with Hachette, where I was guided through what to expect in the run-up to publication and the first months following release. They are working on the back cover blurb – which is a good thing – because I found writing a synopsis harder than writing the book, and the idea of condensing the synopsis into an attention grabbing few paragraphs had my head in a spin. I should also have the finalised cover in the next month.
At the meeting, my publisher at Hachette was very supportive. She stressed to me that I should celebrate every step of the way, and reminded me, in the nicest possible way, what an achievement it is to secure a publishing contract in today’s climate. Hear, hear!
Really, it is still difficult to absorb this is really happening to me. A career in shipping and logistics hardly prepared me for this experience, so every step of the journey is a brand new day. It is quite a ride.
I can confess now that I was unable to blog for a couple of months as I was head down, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, bum on seat, fingers glued to laptop etc. etc., soldiering on through yet another edit of my memoir. I had already self-edited to the point where I felt I could do no more, at which time I sent the manuscript to a professional for appraisal. That resulted in another edit, which then led on to another manuscript appraisal with a different editor, who then worked with me to get it to publishable standard.
Last year fellow blogger Sandra Danby wrote an excellent post on her experience of copy-editing her novel Ignoring Gravity. You can be sure I had already taken on board what she had to say. Sandra also kindly announced my publication in her ‘new books coming soon’ section last February 22nd. Thank you Sandra!
The difference with the most recent edit is that I was responding to the publisher’s copy editor. Then in today’s mail I have received what is called first page proofs. Now the layout looks as it would if it was in a printed book. I have glanced through the stack, and it looks – different. No longer is it a manuscript in Times New Roman 12. No longer is it double-spaced on A4 paper. I have spent so many, many years looking at a manuscript, and now . . . gosh. Well, it is no longer my baby, that is for sure. It seems to have turned into a teenager overnight, a stranger inhabiting the body of the child you thought you knew so well. Now I have to look at it very, very critically making sure my changes have been interpreted correctly, and looking for proof reading errors.
I have a publisher, (she sighs and looks dreamy) . . . picture insecure debut author dancing around the laptop. A little celebration before the hard work of proof-reading begins.