This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
In the next part of the series, author Sophia Tobin and Senior Commissioning Editor at Simon & Schuster, Clare Hey, talk about what it's like to receive the proof copies of The Silversmith’s Wife.
Sophia: On a Saturday morning two weeks ago, I opened the door to a cheery postman cradling an enormous jiffy bag in his arms, with Simon & Schuster stamped on the front.
I was so excited that, in the process of extracting the contents from their wrapping, I somehow mangled the jiffy bag, releasing enough fluff from its lining to make my bedroom resemble a newly shaken snow globe. But this didn’t worry me, because lying before me were my proofs; a solid block of a manuscript, bright white in the sunshine, like a pristine wedding cake that’s so beautiful, no one wants to cut it.
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Every stage of this process has taught me a lot, but I have to admit the proofing took me most by surprise. Turning that first page – cutting the cake – was not the hardest bit. Clare had said she thought the manuscript was pretty clean in terms of grammar and spelling – and it was. But I never need much encouragement to be critical of my own work, and reading the book in its typeset form filled me with trepidation as well as excitement. It soon became clear that, to some extent, I had to ignore the voice of self-criticism which we all apply to our writing during stressful times, and concentrate on errors alone. One very helpful method for spotting errors was to read once very slowly, closely focused on each word and comma, then to read once by skimming through.
I am glad to say that the things I spotted were easily dealt with – a word here or there, although one change was so essential, that it still pains me to think about it. I admit I find it hard to know that proof copies of the book sent to critics and reviewers contain those errors, small as they seem to others. But the protectiveness I feel towards my characters and their story is balanced by the fact that I know it’s time to let them go.
I am very happy to write that my proofs won’t be going out into the world alone, but will be packaged as a set with those of three other debut writers. As someone who routinely shuts myself in a room to talk to imaginary characters, I’ve often thought of myself as a bit of a lone wolf (or, more accurately, a lone rabbit, staring into headlights). To be part of a group is strangely comforting, and even more comforting are the beautiful cover designs for the proofs, designed as a set.
Clare: Getting page proofs in is always a big moment. It’s when the book starts to feel more ‘real’. And it’s particularly exciting for us publishers as we use the page proofs to make book proof – or advance reading copies – which we send out far and wide to people we hope will enjoy the novel.
The Silversmith’s Wife is part of a set of four debuts that S&S is particularly excited about publishing in 2014. And so we are producing the four novels as a set of book proofs, so reviews, bloggers, booksellers and readers can enjoy all four of them together (a lucky few will receive a box set of the four).
Giving people the chance to read debut novels ahead of publication is really important to publishers – we know we love the books we’re publishing, and we can shout about them all we like, but having readers championing them to their friends or on their blog is invaluable. It’s the very beginning of getting a buzz started around a novel, which we hope will grow as we get closer to publication.
So, to celebrate, we are offering a book proof to one lucky Novelicious reader. Just leave a comment below or tweet us @simonschusteruk by the end of the week (9 August) telling us why you want to read The Silversmith’s Wife and we’ll pick a winner. Good luck!
Here is the book's description:
‘My little sister. At night, say your prayers, blow out your candle, keep your eyes closed. Tell yourself: the dead do not walk. They cannot love, and they cannot hate. You must be strong.’
The year is 1792 and winter hangs heavy in Berkeley Square. As the city sleeps, the night-watchman keeps a cautious eye over the streets, and another eye on the back doors of the great and the good. Then in the dark he comes across the body of Pierre Renard, the eponymous silversmith, lying dead, his throat cut and his valuables missing. It could be common theft, committed by one of the many villains who stalk the square but he knows that there is darkness afoot.
As news of the murder spreads, it soon becomes clear that Renard had more than a few enemies, all with their own secrets to hide. At the centre of this web is Mary, the silversmith’s wife. Ostensibly theirs was an excellent pairing but nobody truly knows what goes on behind closed doors. Now Mary is withdrawn and weak, haunted by her past and near-mad with guilt. Will she attain the redemption she seeks and what, exactly, does she need redemption for…?
Rich, intricate and beautifully told, this is a story of murder, love and buried secrets.