Since signing my contract to publish ‘Mary’s the Name’, the question I’m most often asked is:
‘What’s the latest with the book?’
And no matter how much time seems to pass, my answer comes back the same:
‘Still just editing to get it perfect.’
Which, let’s face it, is the most boring thing you can tell people. And it’s fair to say I’ve been ‘just editing’ for quite some time. To clear it up a bit, here’s a timeline of ‘Mary’s the Name’, and what’s been happening at each stage of editing…
January 2015 – I begin work on a story told from the point of view of a little girl named Mary. I know the beginning of the story, and I know exactly what the final image of the story will be. There’s just the rest to come up with.
Spring 2015 – Over the course of a few weeks, I present a couple of chapters of this story to my Creative Writing M.Litt course. One chapter is about 8-year-old Mary, and one is about 16-year-old Mary. I’m considering splitting the story into two different times of Mary’s life. Feedback is very positive about wee Mary, but no so much about teenager Mary. I accept that I don’t have a good grasp on the 16-year-old Mary and focus on the younger storyline.
May 2015 – I settle on my Mary story for my M.Litt dissertation. In May, I visit Portree on the Isle of Skye to get a feel for the village and get all the information I need.
Summer 2015 – Over the course of the summer, I write the entire novel, around 75,000 words, the first five chapters of which are handed in as my dissertation. The working title at this point is ‘The Portree Kid’.
Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016 – I submit the novel, in batches, to lots of literary agents. It takes a long time to hear back. Many are very nice and say kind things about my writing and Mary, but no one wants to take me on. I then begin submitting directly to publishers. Again, kind responses but no real leads.
April 17th 2016 – Cranachan Publishing, a new Scottish publisher, contacts me and asks to meet up to discuss the manuscript I submitted. Cue much excitement.
April 25th 2016 – I meet with Helen and Anne from Cranachan in Glasgow. They are very excited about my book and want to publish it. I am overwhelmed by their feedback on my novel and say yes please thank you very much. Cue much more excitement. (This was a very surreal meeting for me). Going forward, the book is titled ‘Mary’s the Name’.
Summer 2016 – I spend the summer redrafting the novel, in keeping with the suggestions and feedback from Cranachan. These are general points about areas of the novel which need strengthened, tightened and improved. I submit the revised draft and wait patiently.
October 30th 2016 – I receive the novel back from Cranachan, with the entire manuscript having been edited by Helen and Anne. This is the toughest part of the process. Every single line of the 80,000 novel has been scrutinised to make sure there are no mistakes or inconsistencies.
Which is to say, there are over 200 pages, and many of them look like the picture above. There is a lot of work to be done. The tiniest details must be right before the book can be deemed ready to print.
Sadly, I can’t continue the timeline just yet, as I’m still in this BIG edit portion of the process. So, if you asked me during the summer, ‘how’s the book going?’ and I said ‘editing’, this was correct. And if you ask me now, ‘how’s the book going?’, and I still say ‘editing’, this is also correct. But hopefully it won’t be long before I can say ‘all done, bring on the launch’.
Still set for release in February 2017, though. ‘Mary’s the Name’. Tell your friends.