The Significant Other’s Guide to Dating a Science Fiction/Fantasy Writer
by Chloe Neill
Have you noticed your significant other (let’s abbreviate to “SO”) wandering around, mumbling to herself about orcs or vampires? Does she spend inordinate amounts of time scribbling antiquated names on a handmade map? Is she trying to weight the relative strengths of crossbows, Glocks, and katanas?
Then, to paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you might be dating a science fiction/fantasy (“SFF”) writer.
You might have some interest in SFF on your own. Maybe you enjoy a little CosPlay, a ittle Steampunk, some ST:TNG, or a little SciFi (or are we calling it SyFy?). Or maybe you might indulge your SO’s ridiculously fertile imagination and her lectures on the biological imperatives of vampirekind. Whatever your position, if your SO is a writer in the SFF genre, your awareness of the life cycle of a manuscript could be the difference between the misery and happiness. Here’s a handy guide:
1. Submission: At this point, your SO doesn’t yet have a deal for her manuscript. She’s just spent months (or years) sweating over 100,000+ words of SFF, and she’s hoping for a little validation and a promising offer. These are very nervewracking days, during which your SO is probably questioning her abilities as a writer, the marketability of her product (are elves the next vampires?) and whether her query letter would spark enough interest to get the agent/editor’s thumbs-up. Tread carefully.
2. Editorial letter: Congratulations! Your SO’s manuscript has been accepted for publication . . . eventually. But first you’ve got 4ish rounds of editing to survive. The first round is the editorial letter–your SO’s editor will send a letter (or e-mail) outlining the line-items and plot points that, if your SO is lucky, only need tweaking. If your SO (and you) are a little less lucky, there are subplots to remove, plots to replot, and characters to rewrite. Be patient–the manuscript will probably end up better for these changes, but that doesn’t mean the rewrites are fun for the ego. Still, no pain, no gain. Be generous with the compliments.
3. Line edits: Your SO has made it through the editorial letter process, so the plot of her manuscript is largely complete. Now comes the nitty-gritty–the word-by-word and line-by-line edits of the manuscript. The editor will read- through the post-editorial-letter manuscript to ensure that the words and sentences and paragraphs make sense. This stage tends to be a little more about the mechanics of writing than the mechanics of the plot, but don’t let your SO get lost in the details. Reminde her why she’s re-reading her manuscript for the third (or fourth) time, and that publication is only a few scant months away! Keep hope alive.
4. Copyedit: A staff (or freelance) copyeditor has reviewed each word, comma and colon to ensure that it conforms to the Chicago Manual of Style, or some similar guide. She’s tagged each made-up word, incorrect capitalization, inappropriate (or appropriate, I’m never sure) serial comma, and each time “T-shirt” is incorrectly deemed a “teeshirt,” “t-shirt,” or “Tee-Shirt.” (I’ve used all four. My editor probably thinks I enjoy variety; really, I’m just absentminded). The sheer number of edits (and concurrent comments) can be frustrating for your SO, but the step is crucial. Ideally, words should not be misspelled in a final manuscript, and the grammar should be impeccable. (Hey, I said “ideally.”) But your SO is human, after all. Be understanding.
5. Final edits: Your SO will walk into your office/bedroom/living room, beaming from ear to ear. In her hands will be a stack of letter-sized papers containing the manuscript, but this time with formatting akin to what it will look like in print form–chapter titles, correct margins, interesting font, and all that legal mumbo-jumbo that appears in the front of the book. Your SO will, hopefully, be so excited to see the formatting that she forgets about the often mind- numbing fourth (or fifth…or sixth) read-through of the manuscript. But this is her final opportunity to tweak and make sure the manuscript is in the best shape it can be. Be patient.
6. Publication: Another milestone surpassed! Your SO is now on shelves. So you’ve got nothing more to worry about . . . except sales. And returns. And royalties. And marketing. Writing is a business, and it will take your SO (and potentially you) some time to fill in all the necessary blanks. But don’t let her obsess over her daily Amazon rank and forget the bigger issue–she published a novel…and you survived it.
Good luck! Thanks to John for hosting me today, and good luck to the contest entrants!
© Chloe Neill
Thanks to the author, I have stuff to give away related to the release of Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill.
The winner will receive:
- A Signed copy of SOME GIRLS BITE
- “I Heart Cadogan” bumper sticker
- Cadogan House bar coaster
- SOME GIRLS BITE magnet.
To enter, all you have to do is send your name and address to john [DOT] Ottinger [AT] gmail [DOT] com or click this link, with the subject line SOME GIRLS BITE. US residents only. Submissions will be accepted until 12AM June 27th, 2009.