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A detail from Caravaggio's 'Judith'As one editor’s website reminded me, “Writers are traditionally not very good writers.” And it’s true. I’ve come to realise that, when I think there are no more errors in my manuscript, I’ve merely gone word-blind. So I definitely need a proofreader.

Every time I look at my manuscript I spot new things I want to change. This could be a change in style or dialogue or the alteration of character beats. What this tends to blind me to is the actual writing – the systematic, getting-the-right-words-in-the-right-order type of thing. I don’t know if this is endemic to my style of writing (vomit words on the page and clean up later) or whether I’m just so desperate to get it done that mistake slip through.  With The Darkness Embraces , it’s things like commas, apostrophes and (to my horror) spelling.

So my proofread is going to cost £250, courtesy of Claire Rushbrook, who I found through the Society for Editors and Proofreaders.

The proofreader's dreaded red penThis is about half as much as I thought it would cost, but it is just a proofread. I was tempted to go for a development read as well, which would probably have tightened the story up but could have cost more than £800. I guess that’s because the editor has to engage with the story and characters, rather than just checking the spelling and grammar!  So I’ll see how the book is received and then look at commissioning a development read.

Besides, what I’ve saved on the editing I’ve more than lost on the cover.

I originally asked a freelancer to sketch up a cover for me. She quoted £120, and then I waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. Contacting her led to promises, but no actual designs.

So I gave up on her and contacted another of my friends, the freelance artist Bec Corn. She quoted me a price of £350, which buys me a painting that will then be shrunk down for the front cover of the e-book. I’m working with her at the moment to get what I want. Considering The Darkness Embraces is set in a faux-17th Century world, it’s given her the chance to do some work in the mould of the late Renaissance painters, and we’re moving forward in that style. At the moment it’s going to be a little like a Caravaggio, or so I’m told, and the darkness of the cover will reflect the Darkness of the title.

I have to be careful though, because it still needs to be a book cover rather than a work of art. I’m waiting for the initial sketches for this one, and then we’ll work together to get something I’m happy with.

Actually, I should go and chase that up right now…

Book Cover Layout TemplateSo I’ve commissioned approximately £600 worth of work and I’m waiting to get it back. While this is going on, I’ve been writing the sequel to The Darkness Embraces – called The Brothers Baern – and trying to refine the first 10,000 words of my other novel, The Witch, to get it ready to send off to agents and imprints. That has got a long, long lead-in though and I doubt I’ll hear back from everyone before Christmas.

Apart from writing, life has been busy. I broke up with my long term partner, left my job and my flat, moved countries … but that’s not so interesting! Time for a cup of tea, I think. It’s bloody freezing here today!

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