So I get back from holiday to find my editor’s notes sitting in my In Tray. In case you’ve never dealt with publishers let me tell you how it works. You submit your manuscript, an editor reads it and tells you how much he enjoyed it.
‘I’ll need to read it again, of course,’ he says. ‘And let you have my notes.’
When the notes arrive it often turns out there are a million things wrong with your book (as you already suspected). But the editor still really, really likes it. He kind of has to because he’s already staked a small (or if you’re Pippa Middleton, not so small) amount of money on it. So when he smiles at you it may be through gritted teeth.
My new book turns out to have a structural fault running through a load-bearing wall. I have to take it apart, rebuild the middle section and insert – to continue the building trade metaphor because frankly I can’t be bothered to think of another one – an RSJ into the narrative. We are looking (extracts stub of pencil from behind ear and sucks teeth) at two months work. There goes my Christmas.
Am I downhearted? Not exactly. The book will undoubtedly be the better for it. That, please note all authors about to inflict their unedited self-published dreck on the reading public, that is the whole point of a good editor. I just wish they wouldn’t tease with false praise before delivering the structural survey. Ooh-er.
Back in your hamster wheel, Laurie Graham. That’ll larn you to swan off on holiday.