Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Push And Pull Of The Editorial Process

I'm about halfway through the proof version of my latest non-fiction paranormal book for Dundurn, Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores & Libraries and have to say that I'm really pleased with the editorial and design team.

A draft of the cover flat for Tomes of Terror: Haunted Bookstores and Libraries
Yes, I'll admit, the process wasn't without frustration. I'm quite passionate about both bookish locales as well as sharing ghost stories, so there was a lot of me, personally, invested into this manuscript.

Too much me, perhaps.

I spent a bit too much time dwelling on my own passion for bookstores, for libraries, for spooky stories. Content that might bring value to an in person author appearance or talk, but which might be too much for the pages of this particular manuscript.

I needed an unbiased editorial viewpoint to keep me from diverging too far off the path that would appeal to the broadest audience.

I disagreed, of course, with several suggestions for how to revise the book, saw value in many other suggestions, and stubbornly pushed and prodded in that ego-centric way that authors can sometimes fall back to when someone else is trying to "rain on their parade" by suggesting an alternative way to approach something.

So there was push and pull, and disagreement.

But at the end of the day, as I'm halfway through a solid proofing read of the book, I have to say, I'm impressed.

Unedited proof showing sidebar of the "side story" for a chapter

The editorial team at Dundurn took what was a pretty good manuscript that I turned in and they have helped to craft it into something pretty amazing. The book takes just the right balance of speculative wonder about the paranormal and an appreciation for bookstores and libraries, offering something of value for both camps of potential readers without going too far off in one direction. A great editorial suggestion to pull some of the "back-story elements" from the main body of some of the chapters and insert that into sidebar boxes works brilliantly. 

This worked nicely, because, in doing research for the book, I fell in love with the history of the locale I was writing about and wanted to share interesting tidbits of the building's history or some intriguing factual notes that were related to the original story. The problem, though, is they didn't add to the main story as well.

Tomes of Terror isn't exactly the book I had envisioned when I pitched the book to Dundurn.

It's even better.

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