Proofing a book and making it ready for publication.
The Larkspur Legacy, the last in the Larkspur Mystery series, is now being layed out and when that’s done, it will be ready for publication next weekend. Meanwhile, I thought I’d have a look at the blurb and talk a little about the proofreading stage. As you can see from the title, I’m never sure whether I should write proofreader or proof-reader, or even proof reader. And that’s why I have one. More about that in a moment, first the blurb.
The Larkspur Legacy full blurb reads like this:
The Larkspur Legacy
The Larkspur Mysteries
‘Lord Clearwater, the Larkspur Academy has forged a bond among its men that will last long after they have left us and made their own way in the world. You are to be commended for the enterprise, but you should not be surprised by it.’Barbary Fleet, December 1891
Henry Hope lies in a coma, and Lord Clearwater’s hunt for his mother’s secret treasure is on hold. But when a new clue comes to light, Clearwater and the academy men resume their greatest adventure. It is also to be their most dangerous.
With murderous enemies behind, the unknown ahead, and a warrant out for Clearwater’s arrest, no-one is safe. Loyalties and friendships are tested as the men face harrowing confrontations, a war of attrition in the national newspapers, storms, gunfights and death.
Will love and friendship be enough to secure the lives and futures of Lord Clearwater and his crew? Can they solve the riddles in time, and will anyone ever know the meaning of the seemingly unlockable riddle? Behind four points ’neath gifted crook, the light awaits for those who look…
The Larkspur Legacy follows on directly from ‘Starting with Secrets’ and is the culmination of both the Clearwater and Larkspur mystery series. It is not necessary to have read the Clearwater Mysteries, but to get the best from this ‘end of season finale,’ you’re advised to read both, the Larkspur Mysteries in particular, and to read them in order.
With themes of friendship, bromance, male love and revenge, the story combines historical fact with fiction. As with all of Jackson Marsh’s mysteries, the novel contains humour, love and action, while offering the reader the chance to solve the clues with the cast of disparate, well-drawn characters.
“This is a book that could have been written by
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dan Brown.”
That is what you will see on Amazon when the book is published.
For me, the important things to remember when writing a blurb are:
- It is not a synopsis
- It is selling the book
- Use power words
- Keep it brief
- Entice the reader
Other authors and advisors have other advice, but those are my rules to myself.
I start by writing what I want the browsing reader to know, and I don’t care how I write that draft. Then, I go through it knocking out as much as I can that’s not necessary to convey the backbone of the story, and then I go through it again using power words.
I try to keep blurbs down to 150 words or less, and only three paragraphs.
1) The premise of the story: Henry Hope lies in a coma, and Lord Clearwater’s hunt for his mother’s secret treasure is on hold, when…
2) The ‘thing to draw the reader in’: But when a new clue comes to light….
3) The great question or hook: Will love and friendship be enough…?
As for power words, I mean words and phrases like:
Greatest adventure, most dangerous, murderous enemies, the unknown, harrowing confrontations, war of attrition, storms, gunfights, death…
I also prepare the blurb before I send my MS to my proof-reader, because it makes sense for a third party to check it as much as they check the MS.
I’m lucky to have found Ann Attwood, and she has been my proof reader on every Jackson Marsh book and a couple of my later James Collins titles. It’s important to have a good working relationship with your proofer (who is not necessarily also your editor, in fact, I believe they should be two different people, but that’s up to you).
I invited Ann over to tell us a little bit more about herself and how she got into proofreading.
I started proofreading in my twenties (a long time ago!), mainly doing technical documents, but I have always read a lot.
I read Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind when I was around 16. My mum had the hardback edition, which was really heavy to carry around, and, of course, I read all Jane Austen’s books, and Georgette Heyer’s. As you can see, I am a big romantic fiction fan.
I worked in banking (sorry) until I had my family, but reading kept me sane. After they all started at school I was working in a preschool, but had to give up when I damaged my back. I needed something to do.
It wasn’t a big leap to get into reading ARC editions, but many had so many mistakes from lack of editing, I think, so I began sending corrections to the authors.
It wasn’t long before I was asked if I would proofread or edit professionally, so I set up a Facebook page (now Meta), and it snowballed from there.
To be honest, it’s so long since I started working with James and his Jackson persona, I can’t remember how we met. Probably a recommendation, which is how I’ve gained most of my authors (there are about 40 or 50 on my books. Some send regularly a book a month, others may send one or two a year)
James is easy to work with, and his books are extremely good. I enjoy following the plots and untangling the mysteries to see if I reach the same conclusion. The stories are extremely well thought out, and he has obviously done a lot of research. All that is left for me to do is fix his typos and enjoy myself immersed in a brilliant adventure, ensuring there are no continuity issues (which there usually aren’t).
This last book, the finale in the series, is his longest and best yet (IMHO). All the loose ends are tied up, but no spoilers here.
As well as editing and proofreading for my indie authors (genres include romantic, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, crime, and murder mysteries), I proofread for the online edition of a financial magazine, and edit for the marketing arm of a PSP software provider.
Thank you Ann, you sound like a very busy person and I very much appreciate being one of your clients.
So back to checking through the manuscript, your proofer should be able to identify everything from obvious typos to the subtle differences between words, and that’s what Ann does. Although I use a spell check, and a couple of plug-in grammar and spelling checkers in Word, there’s nothing to beat a 3rd party pair of eyes, and an experienced grammarian proof reader. We’re not just talking spelling and typos, but punctuation and consistency of story.There are so many words in the English language that are important to get right, and some of the ones I need a third eye on are these:
And some of my most common typos are character’s names, believe it or not. Often your eye and brain see what they expect to see, not what’s actually written, so I am always missing mix-ups like:
I’ve also put in some accidental typos that have been quite funny (as long as they get taken out). Mind you, nothing is as funny as some of the typos you see left in published classics.
In the Larkspur Legacy, there is one section where one of the characters is reading from an actual copy of Baedeker’s travel guide from 1890, and I couldn’t help quoting it verbatim. Reading from the book, the character says:
‘The façade, towards the boulevard… They must mean this road… Roman circular style… Three stories…” Spelt wrong. “Cottage of the pensioner who keeps the key…”’
The Baedeker travel companions, were very popular in the later 19th century and well respected, but not always so well proofed, it seems. Mind you, I can’t say anything, I am always coming up with new and creative typos: ‘Joe’s not stupid, Sir, he’s dead.’ Instead of deaf, for example. Mostly, I’m able to take them out before they go to Ann, but I also have a checklist of my most common. Form/From, Filed/filled, griped/gripped etc. I have trouble with double-letter words, as you can see, and that’s why you should always hire a professional proofreader, or a proof reader, or, assuming he/she is a compound adjective, a proof-reader.
Proof-reader might not be a compound adjective, actually. I don’t know. Which is why I call in the professionals.
The Larkspur Legacy is due for release next Saturday, 26th March. In the meantime, to celebrate the completion of The Clearwater and Larkspur Mysteries, I am offering Deviant Desire as a FREE download on Amazon until 22nd March. Maybe you had it on KindleUnlimited before but now you can download for keeps, or maybe send to a friend to get them hooked too!
I am also part of a BookFunnel promo running for the week, over 50 fellow MM author are showcasing their first in series, so if you are looking for a new binge read have a browse. I need clicks on this link to build my BookFunnel reputation so please CLICK HERE
And finally, on Monday, at 7pm Athens time, I will be available for a live 30 minutes Q and A session at the M/M Fiction Addiction Cafe. Feel free to drop by and ask me anything you like (well, within reason lol).