Month: November 2016

New publisher?

Thinking about looking at some kind of professional self-publishing helper, not going to mention any names right now but thinking about what kind of audience I want to tell them I’m aiming at.

Thing is, everyone who reads it seems to see a different book. I suppose it’s at least three different books.

For me, first and foremost it’s the autistic spiritual journey, from the original predicament outlined in the rant at the end of Chapter 3 of Flaming Sword, to his much more laid-back persona at the end of Water of Life. That is the basic project that led me to write the trilogy in the first place. True, Vian already knew he was a bit weird; for me, I only got the validation when I was six decades old.

Secondly there’s the utopian ideal of how to organise a society from scratch – and you can only do it when everyone is at rock bottom to start with – and while it might look very bleeding heart leftie it does make room for people to get rich if they want to. It’s a model I’ve never seen anywhere else and I’m slightly surprised no-one’s actually commented on it, except one friend who said in an email that they wished we had people like that running the country. I don’t yet know whether it’s actually too naive for words, or whether those who might think so have axes to grind.

The third obvious thread is the romance, like a kind of reverse Pride and Prejudice/Pretty Woman. He’s reasonably secure in his limited lifestyle under the Theocracy, she’s high-born but not at all sure of herself because of her own limitations that also translate into high-functioning autism, which is why Vian noticed her in the first place.

What kind of ‘audience’ or ‘genre’ all that translates to is something I have to ask an expert. And I’ve had bad experiences with experts in the past, so we’ll have to see. Like Vian, I’ve mellowed a lot since I began my spiritual search (turning down the sacristan job at my posh boarding school for instance, and being ridiculed by all the loving and giving spiritual groups, Quakers included, that I’ve tried to join over many years since then, coping, not always very well, with the idea that I’m actually born spiritually blind and then finally getting the assessment of Asperger’s Syndrome). I’d better not say a lot more about that because it might constitute a spoiler.

But I think that the kind of people who would enjoy the book would include those who are bothered by the ‘Hard Problem’ (and if you’re not bothered by it you don’t know what it is) and those that are probably to the left in political thinking. People who are interested in autism might look at it but it’s not the kind of autism that most people writing about it recognise. For a start, it’s hyperverbal. But that’s well explained in the book.

We’ll see.

Editing your own work

Proofreading and editing your own work is not easy. You read what you know you wrote. I’ve found small typos months later, having read the work over and over again.

But there are a few tricks you can try. Here are some of them:

  1. Keep the spelling and grammar checker on. It’s wrong often enough but it’s a simple matter to overrule it, just (in Word anyway) right click and select Ignore. It flags up spacing errors and occasionally makes suggestions that are an improvement. A word or name it doesn’t know I usually add to the dictionary. If you’re still not sure about its and it’s and all that sort of thing, ask someone who is completely clear about apostrophes, see point 4.
  2. Give it a few days, even weeks, before you go back to it. Get on with writing new chapters instead.
  3. Put it in a different format. I use Calibre to convert the book into Kindle MOBI format and upload it to my Kindle. When the words appear in a different place on the page, in a different font and on a different screen, typos you’ve missed can jump out at you.
  4. Show it to a friend. I’ve read at least two books that clearly hadn’t been shown to anyone before being published. Big mistake. A friend can point out plot inconsistencies, implausibilities and sheer naffness that you wouldn’t have seen yourself, as well as pointing out typos and awkward turns of phrase.
  5. Well this is really 4a. Choose your friend carefully. It’s your heart and soul you’re asking them to criticise. They need to be confident you won’t be upset. Which just means you need to know how well they know you, and vice versa. There are people I can’t take criticism from, and others I’m quite happy to listen to and take it on board. Like my protagonist, my scorn and contempt detector is on a hair trigger. This is where a professional editor you don’t know can be a problem. Like finding a therapist, you don’t know until you’ve already committed yourself, and I’ve had very bad luck with therapists.
  6. well, 4b. If there’s no one in your entire circle of acquaintance that you’re prepared to show it to, then you probably shouldn’t publish it at all.
  7. Live with the odd typo. I found one in a William Gibson novel.