It is so cold this morning that my fingers don't want to type! But I'll persist!
When you go into a bookshop, and pick a book up off the shelf, have you ever wondered how long it took to get that book to its finished state? And the process involved? It is a very interesting one!
I visited a school recently, and was asked to speak a little about the publishing process of my books. The time always seems to go fast for me, because I am always writing, or re-writing, or re-writing again until both the editor and I are happy with the text. But, looking back to when I first started writing Puzzle Palace to the time it was printed, a fair amount of time elapsed in between, and it wasn't until I was preparing information for my school talk, that I realised just how much.
I began writing Puzzle Palace in 2007, in between trying to publicise Quizzical and waiting for the text for Money Bags to come back from the editor, at which time I knew I would have to drop everything and concentrate on that. That's not such a bad thing, though, because during that time new ideas can come to you that you can then integrate into the story. I used to worry about writer's block, because there is such a thing. But I have learned now that it passes - it may take a few days or even a week or so, but then new ideas will come and the creative energy will flow again. I can go for a walk and by the end of it, a new idea will have hatched in my mind, or a chapter will have come together. That's just what works for me.
Even the best authors don't get it right the first time. They need editors, and believe it or not, they have to rewrite text. A good editor is an author's best friend, believe me! When I first self-published Quizzical, I thought it would just be printed out and a cover slapped on the front of it. I had no idea what was involved in the publishing process. I'm just glad I found someone who did, who could help me get my book to the highest possible standard in every area.
Even when the text goes to the editor, and the editor then suggests changes, and you go ahead and attend to those changes, there will inevitably be more changes, and perhaps more. I doubted myself when this happened with my books, but then I realised it wasn't a personal attack on my work, and the editor was only helping me to make my books better. Besides, if I had written a whole book, then how hard was it to rewrite a few pieces of text here and there?
The editing can take months, depending on how many changes need to be made. With Quizzical I had to pretty much change the whole ending, along with several parts in the middle that had threads to the ending. I was literally mortified, but my editor made the suggestions clear, so I knew exactly what I had to do, and she was with me every step of the way to run changes by. Money Bags had some changes as well, but not nearly as many. Puzzle Palace had lots. I often find the first chapter of any book to be the hardest. It's the one that has to get the reader in, and when I read back my first chapter of Puzzle Palace (after a first attempt), I thought 'Oh, that's crap!' Then I started to worry that it wouldn't be nearly as good as the first two books. But I persisted, then on my editor's advice, changed direction, and slowly it began to come together. I must have changed it a dozen times, though, to get it to a stage where I was happy with it. And that was only the first chapter! I had to work on the characters in Puzzle Palace, too, especially a couple of the new ones. It was quite a challenge, but one that I enjoyed, because I knew at the end of it, my book would be all the better for it.
Once the editing is done, that's not the end of it. There's also the cover, and what goes on it, as well as the wording for the blurb on the back. It's such an interesting process, and when you get a finished book in your hand at the end of it, it's just an amazing feeling!
Puzzle Palace is the third book in my 'Quizzical' series. It has the same characters as the first two books in the series, but I have introduced some new characters in this book, in particular a girl named Summer, who is the same age as Brain and just as smart. Check out the review of Puzzle Palace at: http://kids-book-review.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-puzzle-palace.html