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Hi guys!
 
Welcome to our fourth newsletter for the year where we will be talking about editing. If you missed our earlier newsletters, click here to read our past newsletters about getting ideas, first drafts and more.
 
But before we get to editing, here’s a little about what we’ve been up to. The three of us have spent a lot of time together since we last wrote. We had our Secret Life of Authors tour in June, the RWA conference in Melbourne in August, and Lisa and Rachael met up in Sydney last week. If only life were always so fun.
 
Also we had the tremendously exciting news that Lisa has sold her new book The Secret Life Of Shirley Sullivan to Penguin Random House. It will be coming out in May 2020 so pop it on your TBR! We are so excited about the release of this book!
 
Thanks to all of our gallivanting we are now spending a lot of time at home finishing up our new books.
 
Hope you have all been staying warm and reading lots!

Lisa, Sally and Rachael xxx
 

Upcoming Events

Lisa and Sally are thrilled to be doing an event at Nunawading Library to promote Australian Reading Hour on September 19 at 11 am. Click here to find out more.

Rachael is also doing a couple of events for Aus Reading Hour.
Rachael will be in:
Darwin (NT) on Wednesday 18th September - Click here for details
and Midland (WA) for a seniors morning tea event on Thursday 19th September - Click here for details
 

Giveaway Time!


With less than two months until the release of Rachael’s JUST ONE WISH, we thought we’d give away an early copy to one lucky subscriber. To be in the draw, simply send us an email at thesecretlifeofauthors@gmail.com, telling us what your wish would be if you had just one! We’ll email the winner and also announce them in our next newsletter. 

 

Sally Hepworth

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Rachel Johns

What I've been up to

It has been a busy few months. As of the last newsletter I was about to head off on The Secret Life of Authors tour, and then to New York for Good Morning America. Both seem like a lifetime ago. Since then, I’ve been to the RWA Conference in Melbourne, and the Mudgee Reader’s Festival. Both were lots of fun (and more than a few drinks were had). We also had book week last week, which is something we take very seriously in the Hepworth House.
 

What have I been reading?

In the Clearing by J.P. Pomare. This is not out until January 2020. I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book and I highly recommend that you pop it on your TBR.

Edits

Sally Hepworth

As I’ve alluded to before, I do a lot of editing. A LOT. Part of this comes from my terror of being humiliated. Every time I am ready to hand my book over to my editor I think … maybe I’ll just give it one more read.
 
As I have mentioned before I always write a fast first draft. I get the story out quickly and messily, leaving big holes to fill in later. Then I go back over it again and again until all the gaps have been filled and it is a reasonably robust draft (though a long way from finished). This is where most good writers set their book aside for a week or two and then print it out and slash it with a red pen. I really should do this, but I’m always too impatient. Instead, I get a notebook and make high level notes about the things that I think are working / not working / could use tightening. Then I go back to the beginning and keep going.
 
One of the main things I look for as I self-edit is theme. I never know what the theme of my book will be until I’m several drafts in. Then it starts to emerge, little threads here and there, little plot points that play into a greater whole. I don’t consciously lay these threads, it kind of evolves on its own. Stephen King calls this “the boys in the basement” – the way our subconscious lays the groundwork for things to come. As part of my editing process I grab hold of these threads and weave them throughout the book, adding meaning and resonance.
 
Once I’ve done my high level self editing, I do a final read through purely to finesse the writing, cut adjectives and try to create fresher, tighter sentences.
 
Finally I send to my editor (and immediately open a bottle of wine).
 
Sally x

Lisa Ireland

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What I’ve been up to: 

The past few months have been crazy busy! First there was the SLOA tour of WA. Rachael, Sally and I had so much fun meeting wonderful readers, writers, librarians and booksellers over in the west. Thanks so much to everyone who came to our events. 
 

On my return from Perth I got the great news from my agent that we’d sold THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN to Penguin Random House Australia. The book will be released in May 2020.
 
Earlier this month I got to catch up will lots of my writing buddies (including Rachael and Sally) at Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference in Melbourne, which was loads of fun. 
Last week I was in Sydney to celebrate the release of Emily Madden’s new book and I managed to catch up with my fabulous new publisher, Beverley Cousins, as well of some of the team at PRH. 
 
This week I’m back home. It’s going to be super hard to settle down to work again after all this excitement, but I have copyedits on the way, so I won’t be moving far from my desk for the next little while.

 

What have I been reading?

I’ve been lucky enough to read two yet-to-be-released books this month. The first is Jane Cockram’s debut novel, THE HOUSE OF BRIDES (Oct release US. November release Australia.) This is a stunning book. A beautifully written novel full of intrigue, which kept me guessing until the very last chapter. I also read Kelly Rimmer’s next book, TRUTHS I NEVER TOLD YOU, which is another amazing read from this talented Australian author. TRUTHS I NEVER TOLD YOU IS a true page turner; I couldn’t put it down. This one is due out in April next year. Both these wonderful books need to go on your TBR as soon as they come out!

Structural Edits

Lisa Ireland 

When authors talk about structural edits, they’re usually referring to the first major edits they do after submission to their publisher. Once the manuscript is accepted by the publisher it is given to an editor, who will look for any major issues with the plot, the characters, the setting, the timeline, or anything else that the editor feels isn’t quite right.
For me, doing the structural edit is both the best and the worst part of the writing process. 
 
I’ll start with why it’s the worst. Structural edits are hard! I’ve usually spent months writing the draft, reading it over and making any changes that I, or my early readers, think are necessary. By the time I send it off to the publisher it’s as good as I can possibly make it. I’m done with it. In fact, at this point in the process I never want to see that damn book again, let alone work on it any more. And then along comes the editor with all her suggestions and I know that I’m going to have to wade back in and make changes. Sometimes these changes are not that big, and sometimes… well, sometimes it feels like I’m rewriting the whole book!
 
This part of the writing process can be a huge amount of work, but it’s work worth doing, and that’s why the structural edit is also the BEST part of writing a book. I know no matter how much I want to resist making changes (and no matter how many times I curse at the editor under my breath!) that in the end I will be grateful for the editor’s input. An experienced editor can help an author take their story to the next level. After the edits are done, I always feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with another person who is just as invested in my story as I am.
 
Readers often ask if I feel like the editor is taking over or if I feel a loss of ownership of the story once I’ve edited it according to the editor’s notes. The answer to this is no! The editor is on my team. She wants what I want – the best book I can possibly write. Editors don’t change the author’s work, they simply make suggestions. It is always up to the author if they want to take on the suggestions and how they will incorporate any changes into the story.
 
Below I’ve included a couple of snippets of the editorial report for THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP so you can see the types of things an editor might comment on.
 
“… the manuscript is a little long in its current iteration, and to me the first third to half feels a little slow, which might make it the best place to try to make some cuts…”
 
“I wonder if you would consider tweaking the characters’ positions on their friendship throughout the manuscript in the build-up to this scene, to really take the reader by surprise. At the moment, both characters have the thought that perhaps they’ve outgrown each other and could/should move on well before the final scene…I wonder if it would be possible and worthwhile to make it solely Libby who has this realisation, whereas Kit, true to her character, holds fiercely and loyally to the friendship, knowing something is wrong with it but never doubting that they’ll sort it out? That would give that final scene a real extra smack of poignancy…”
 
As you can see the editor (who was absolutely right about both these things!) is not demanding that I make changes, nor telling me how to make any modifications.
Structural edits might be painful, but they’re a necessary evil. I’m always super happy when they’re done!

Rachael Johns

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Lisa Ireland

What I’ve been up to 

For the last few months I’ve been madly finishing writing my next rural romance, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT (out next June), while also doing structural and copy edits for JUST ONE WISH (out October). I’ve also been overseas again on a lovely family holiday, in which we road-tripped California. Following this, my family flew back to Perth and I flew to New York for the Romance Writers of America conference. This is MASSIVE – about 2k women – and I attended a number of inspiring workshops and talks about writing craft and also the business side of being an author. While in NY I also saw Pretty Woman on Broadway, which was so much fun! The Aussie conference followed only a couple of weeks after and as usual I had a blast catching up with my writing friends and also learning lots. Both conferences left me feeling inspired and itchy to start my next book, which is exactly what I’m doing at the moment.
 
In addition to this, I’m gearing up for the launch of JUST ONE WISH. This year, I’ll be doing events in WA, QLD and NSW and will post on my website as soon as all the events are confirmed. I absolutely cannot wait to share this book with you and meet more readers on the road.
 

What have I been reading?

I’ve been lucky enough to read two advance reading copies of books that will be out over the next six months – the first was Jane Cockram’s HOUSE OF BRIDES. This is a debut novel with a bit of a mystery and a very gothic feel. The second was our own Lisa’s THE SECRET LIFE OF SHIRLEY SULLIVAN – I’m sure Lisa will tell you all about this book, but suffice to say I loved them both! I’m currently reading Emily Madden’s HEART OF THE CROSS, which I’m enjoying immensely!!

Copy Editing

Rachael Johns

Editing… the bane of my existence, or did I say that was planning/plotting?!
 
So I’d like to say I do a whole load of self-editing like Sally, but sadly, I usually don’t and the structural edits that Lisa wrote about usually leave me rocking in the corner, guzzling wine and wailing about how my editor doesn’t understand my genius! Yet, I actually quite like copy edits – they are possibly my favourite part of the whole book creating process.
 
Copy edits are when you get to the nitty-gritty of how each sentence works, rearranging words, choosing better words, removing unnecessary narrative, making passive sentences more active or making sure we are showing rather than telling (which is something I get pulled up on a LOT).
 
Not sure what I mean?
 
Telling goes something like this: Jack was angry and wanted to know what Sam had done.
 
Whereas showing goes more like this: Jack’s face flushed and his throat tightened as he slammed his fist on the table. ‘What the hell have you done?’
 
Below is an example of a couple of pages from the copy-edit of JUST ONE WISH  (out Oct 21st but available for pre-order now if you’re interested)!  My comments here are left over from the structural edit and the rest of the suggestions are my fabulous editors. I don’t have to accept every change she recommends, but I probably accept 95% of them.



I’m an over-writer, so a lot of my copy-edit is about tightening sentences and sometimes removing whole sentences and paragraphs that don’t actually add to or drive the narrative at all. Copy edits are also the place where inconsistencies are picked up and corrected. For example in this book, the eye colour of one of the love interest’s changed colour a number of times. My editor picked that up and many other little things as well.
 
As I said, this is my favourite part of the process because we’re ALMOST DONE – we’re down to the final finessing, making the manuscript that I’ve spent months writing and revising sparkle. The next time I see it, it will be the proofread and my final chance to change anything before it goes to print!
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