The journey of Mr Book: the Author

August 11, 2015, Article by Mr Book in Books


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We all love books, especially our little mascot, Mr Book. But how do they come to be? And who are the people who play a key role in getting books on shelves?

In the first in a new series, we look at Mr Book’s journey, from an idea in a writer’s head, right through to publication. We’re kicking off by asking…

How does an author go about getting published?

Bradley Somer, author of the ace new novel Fishbowl, explains how he got published…

My first novel, Imperfections, is not really my first novel. I had finished a previous manuscript and sent it around to a dozen(ish) agents in North America. I think one or two responded with a customary “thanks but no thanks” letter. Looking back at the manuscript now, it was more than a fair response. At the time though, I pushed on and represented myself by sending the manuscript to twenty(ish) publishers, large and small. The responses were slightly more numerous, equally polite and unanimously negative. It’s always a long wait for a response as both agents and publishers (the few that are still accepting unsolicited manuscripts) are swamped with submissions. So while I waited, I kept writing.

Then, an email came my way from the editor at Nightwood Editions, an independent literary press in Canada. It was respectfully abrupt; he liked the manuscript but it needed a lot of work. This was followed by a long list of insightful comments and suggestions to improve the piece. By this time, I fully recognized that original manuscript was in need of a lot of work and this email confirmed it. So, I suggested that they consider the new book I had just finished, and a year later Imperfections was published. While I waited for that book to come out, I kept writing.

Finding an Agent

There’s always more to learn about the craft of writing. I try to attend writing conferences and workshops as much as I can. It was at one of these conferences I was introduced to my agent, Jill Marr, by a good friend (and fellow author who was a fan of Imperfections) who had signed with her a year before. I was still largely oblivious to the business side of the writing process and was busily finishing up my next manuscript.

The introduction was casual, a drink and a chat, and Jill asked for a copy of Imperfections to read. I gave her one and she read it on her flight back to San Diego. A few days later I received an offer of representation. Around that time I was finishing up Fishbowl.

The Editing Process

I love the process of taking a rough work of fiction and refining it, making it stronger through collaborative input. I don’t typically let a work go until I’m satisfied that I can’t make it any better, from conceptual to line edits. This involves extensive personal and peer reviewing.

In the case of Fishbowl, I got the manuscript to a point that I thought it was perfect, then I sent it to Jill who kindly reminded me it wasn’t perfect, and offered her great input. After a few rounds of review with Jill, she began shopping the manuscript around. It received multiple offers in North America and world rights were sold to St. Martin’s Press.

Then it was in the hands of the talented Silissa Kenny, an editor at St. Martin’s. Again, there was an overarching round of high level edits to strengthen the conceptual and thematic points, another round with two other editors, and then several treatments with copy editors and proofreaders, all asking questions and posing concerns with everything from grand plot points to the necessity of certain punctuation marks (… to what the difference between a parkade and a parking garage is). It would be easy to get defensive during these reviews but it’s easier to see how each round of questions, suggestions and reviews makes a manuscript stronger and more polished. While this was going on, the book sold in several regions and translations.

This process took a few years, from start to finish, and the whole time I kept writing.

FISHBOWL

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer is out now in hardback and ebook

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