The Editing Process

This is an archive copy of one of my world-famous email campaigns, sent 27 April 2017. Click to view the PDF, because the copy-paste below leaves a lot to be desired.

It involves a lot more alcohol than you might think

You may or may not be aware, but I’m in the middle of the editing cycle for Night’s End. I find editing a bit of an interesting thing, and by interesting I actually mean soul destroying. There’s a lot of did-I-completely-screw-it-up going on. People often ask me what writing is like, so — here we are. I figured I’d share the editing process, or pain, or whatever it is — with you.

Blah blah many words, scroll to the end for a chance to win an astonishing number of actual books, printed on genuine Earth paper.

The system I have for making books better involves a couple of passes. The first is what I call a narrative pass, where a group of trusted humans are given the manuscript. They’re looking for whether or not characters suddenly appear or disappear in scenes, whether things make sense, whether they are consistent, that kind of thing. I usually get two types of feedback:

  1. A bunch of stuff that everyone yells at me about. If all parties agree Bob is a douche canoe, and he’s supposed to be the likable hero, there’s some kind of problem there that needs fixin’.
  2. A bunch of subjective things that are quite individual. If only one person thinks Bob is a douche canoe, they may just be delusional, or I might be able to nudge something non-obvious to fix it. I might also ignore it, because it’s just one point of view, and you can’t please everyone all the time.

The last three books I’ve written have followed this path — some good consistent feedback with a few subjective comments. Enter my latest book, the conclusion to the Night’s Champion trilogy, and I … have no consistent feedback. There’s not a single thing that all beta readers agree on in terms of recommendations.

What’s slightly fascinating is that there are some pretty strong opposing views this time (a first). Things like: one reader loved, loved, loved the ending, where another did not. Not in a kill-it-with-fire way, but probably a kill-it way. Or: one reader liking the characters returning, and another wanting a broad scale euthanasia program for a number of players.

With a run rate like that, I should go into politics, hey?

This is why: alcohol

Just for fun I thought I’d share with you some quotes my beta readers made on the manuscript as they were going through it.

    • “Dear Author, that was a bit mean. Did you have to kill them when they actually [deleted for spoiler reasons].”
    • “He needs to be hot! She slept with him!”
    • “What happens to the body?”
    • “Double denim is horrible.”
    • “Right, I’m lost. Why does he have to kill them all?”
    • “Is this tie shop important?”
    • “At this stage, I just want to slap her.”
    • “Feel free to ignore, cos what do I know? How many books have I written?”

There is a lot of joy too

The good, though? There’s some … let’s call it encouraging feedback there. Stuff that makes me feel like this:

  • “Tighter than the others, best yet of the trilogy … I rushed through it pretty quickly first time, a page turner.”
  • “I tried to be picky … it was not easy being picky as I kept losing myself in the action!  An excellent read.”
  • “This is definitely the best yet!”
  • “Its great, its great, its great! Honestly, its awesome. Flows more than the first, is more dense in detail and more visual.“
  • “Absolutely loved the courage bits for the inner monologue with Adalia – that was brilliant.  Best written part of the book.  Memorable. Great.”
  • “Oh, sodding awesome, dude!”

I can’t wait to share it with you! It will be out very soon.

Until next time 🙂


Actual books … made of paper

I love my Kindle. This giveaway is not meant to be some kind of death-to-the-ereader movement. Having said that, my Kindle doesn’t have the smell of books – or the weight, or texture. While I wouldn’t be without my Paperwhite, I also love that books still exist and are — still — kicking ass for justice.

My Internet homie Dean Wilson and a bunch of other excellent humans including myself are sponsoring a giveaway. We are going old skool and giving away … paperbacks. Like, books. There’s 52 titles there, enough for one a week for a whole year. There’s a lot to like in this set, Gaiman rubbing shoulders with Orwell and Brooks saying hello-how-are-you to Rowling. I think my “put a ring on it” award in the set goes to A Wizard of Earthsea, a book I re-read every couple of years.

Want to go in to the draw to win? Follow this mighty URL:

Good luck. I wish I could enter this one. Look at all those wonderful titles!

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