Advanced reader copies of Roads of Madness nearly ready

Posted on July 26, 2012 (Subscribe to Blog)

As the title says, I'm very close to sending out the advanced reader copies (ARCs) of Roads of Madness. I "finished" the manuscript last week but only in the sense that I got to the last page.

In the movies, the author types the last line (on a typewriter), then bundles his papers together into a briefcase and goes off to his agent's office. The agent then proceeds to read the entire manuscript from start to finish while the author is standing there looking out the window. The agent throws down her glasses and says, "Best novel EVER!" and then usually a sadistic killer (supernatural of otherwise) later forces the author to destroy the book in some way...

In real life, at least for me, when the first draft is finished, the honing and whittling starts. I read the whole thing through again, slowly, bit by bit, editing as I go. This is often complete rewrites paragraph by paragraph, sometimes flitting around the manuscript to fix other mentions of the thing I just changed. It can take almost as long to edit a chapter as it did to write it in the first place. The first draft is about getting the story on the pages. The second draft is about making the words look nice.

After the second draft I send the manuscript to my proofreaders. Now, I should clarify that when I say "proofreaders," I really mean proofreaders and copyeditors rolled into one. Proofreaders by definition only proofread; they read the words and check for typos. Copyeditors do a whole lot more than that; they suggest rewording, look out for inconsistencies and plot holes, and generally mention anything they think is worth mentioning – as well as proofreading for typos. I'm very lucky to have such dedicated "proofreaders" to rely on!

While they're proofreading/copyediting, I'm going through the book again ironing out any flaws I can think of. In the last few days I slid two pages from one chapter to another, then slid another two pages, and ended up with a four-page gap that I could use to write a much-needed new scene. I also went through the rest of the manuscript tweaking sentences here and there to allow for updated information; for instance, if I decide someone should lose a shoe on page 156, I need to make sure they get it back before page 167 where they're all running around on sharp rocks. (I'm just giving an example here.)

Pretty soon I'll have all the notes back from my proofreaders/copyeditors, and I can go through correcting all my horrible typos and considering any new suggestions. This will take a few days. At the moment I'm just about on track to have the ARCs ready by the end of July as expected, and if not, in the very early days of August.

The purpose of sending out ARCs is to gauge overall reader reactions of a book that, by this time, is as shiny as a new penny. ARC readers are not required to look for typos, but of course I'd like to know of any they happen to find. Mostly, I'm looking for reviews – and hopefully good ones! And if they all came back and said, "Hey, there's a major problem with this section," well, then I'd consider a rewrite before the book is launched. But hopefully that won't happen. Hopefully it will be received well and I can launch on August 31st as planned, and then millions of people buy the book and I give up my day job and become a rich author like Rick Castle (only I wouldn't have any interest in partnering with the local Chickamauga Police to solve crimes).

Stay tuned, eager ARC readers – your electronic editions should be with you soon!

Oh, and a final announcement for any Facebook users who want to win a free copy of Roads of Madness when it's released. "LIKE" my Island of Fog Series page if you haven't already, then visit this post and add a comment to enter for a free copy. Eligible winners must have posted a comment and be listed as a fan of the series. :-)

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