Death by Cliché.
Now that that’s out of the way…business. With this post, I should catch up with our current status on Death by Cliché. That means that barring major developments this week, the kind that just demand a blog post, I’ll start a new series next week that will run in the same weekly slots, but on weeks where there’re no new developments on the novel. This will be a series on plotting. Maybe I’ll plot the sequel to Death by Cliché as I write it, (but without spoilers). That will force me to actually prepare the novel. Also, I learned some stuff doing a short story for James Wymore’s second Actuator anthology that I’m interested to see integrated into my novel potting process.
I don’t have a name for it yet. I suspect it will be something earth shattering, like Plotting Your First Novel: Part 1.
But back to the subject at hand. It only took a few weeks, at the most, before I received the edits back. In that time, I continued to work on these blog posts. I also received the news that I needed to move my hosting my hosting away from Verio in the next year. My entire life is pretty entangled with that company. I used to work for them, as did my friend Gary Llewelyn. Gary had been their longer, and that meant he had a free reseller account. So when I was laid off, we moved my free server to his reseller account and I started paying reseller prices for my hosting. Later when his free employee server was deleted, along with two of my site, I consolidated them onto that one server. That’s why it’s called Robert J Defendi’s Playtesting.net.
Anyway, Verio had always suited my needs, and honestly, I was getting more server and wider capabilities than I can for comparable money in most other places because I wasn’t paying retail. I considered both Godaddy and Squarespace, and Godaddy seemed like the better deal, but I’ve heard a lot of bad buzz about them in reviews and in my tech news feeds, and everyone seems to love Squarespace.
So I told Clare at CQ that I was moving my hosting. Everything to date had been linked to Playtesting.net and that made it all very convenient. I’d build RobertJDefendi.com on Squarespace, point the domain there, and then after Clare had redirected the links on all the old posts to that site, I’d start repointing my other domains. Since I probably needed to rebrand back to my name, the perfect solution. All of that went without a hitch.
Now Tim Powers once told me that it’s a terrible story to watch a man changing a tire competently, so you might ask why I told you that story. I told you that story so I can tell you what happened to me later that week, but we aren’t quite there yet.
I got my edits back from Michael Cristiano. They were minor enough that he mentioned that there probably won’t be a third round, we’ll just go straight to proofreading (although I think that’s technically copyediting since I don’t think the book will not have been laid out yet).
So I dug in. It’s interesting. I’ve spoken before about how I didn’t want to change the text very much at first because of the audiobook, and I’ve spoken about how that was a mistake. This is when that fact became the most obvious to me. At this point, we had cleared enough away, both in the text and in my emotional connection to it, that I could see phrasing issues I’d never seen before. So when it comes to editing for style, this was probably my heaviest pass. (I don’t know yet whether that has made Michael angry…he might have assumed that we’d cleared all this stuff previously). A lot of it was in the text I’d added in the first pass, to answer his issues, but there was still a great deal in the stuff I’d written back in 2006-2008.
There were some small hitches. When we did our first pass, I turned off track changes before doing my edits because in my arrogance it didn’t occur to me that Michael needed to know every change I’d made. I called out the important ones in comments, but I didn’t think he’d need to see everything else. My only excuse is that I’m used to getting back edits as a publisher, not as a writer, and the next person to see my edits, in the past, was almost always a different person from the one I’d just received them from.
So I kept it on, this time.
Michael pointed out more words I overused. I had some form of “look” about 400 times in the novel and 100 “moments”. A lot of “sighs” too. Michael told me to check to see if each sigh was really a time when a person would sigh. Evidently, I sigh a lot more than he does, because they all were, but I decided that leaving them in would let me reader know that I was secretly some kind of sighing monster, and so I cut about three-quarters of them.
This is an important point. I bounced a few things back at Michael the first time, and the ones he backed down on I called good, but that was only a few. Far more of them he dug he heals on, and I looked at them deeper. Your editor is always right.
That sentence was important. So I’m going to pull a Strunk and White here.
Your editor is always right. Your editor is always right. Your editor is always right.
Here’s the real catch. Your editor doesn’t always know WHY he’s right. Sometimes, the reason why your editor THINKS he’s right is completely up in the night. I mean bat-shit crazy. You know he’s bat-shit crazy because you did the exact same thing elsewhere in the book, but he didn’t call THOSE out. So why the hell does he think that rule applies here?
I’ll tell you why. Because we sometimes know something is broke, but we don’t know how.
For example. I do not italicize thoughts in my books except in very special circumstances. I’ve had people claim that they think in complete sentences, but I don’t believe them. I can’t think that slowly myself. But more to the point, when you’re writing third person limited like I do in almost every book, when you’re deep in the character’s head, every word and description is a part of his thoughts. There’s no difference between the description of the door and his thoughts about how he needs to do something for his wife. We experience both of these things entirely through the filter of his conscious mind.
Also, italicizing thoughts when out in the 80s. Not everyone has figured that out yet.
So Michael insisted that this one thought of my main characters be italicized. This confused me and not just because it was wrong (because even when I’m arguing, I know the editor is always right). My biggest problem here was that this is the only novel I’ve written that isn’t almost exclusively in a third person limited point of view (I should do a post on point of view and tense). This book slips between third person and an omniscient, smart-assed narrator. So maybe my normal rules didn’t apply…
When my main character thinks a thought that is an essentially first person, Orson Scott Card would tell me that it’s grandfathered in by the line before it and you don’t italicize it. My editor insisted that this instance needed to be italicized, but I knew for a fact that I’ve done similar things throughout the whole novel and this was the only one he noticed.
And that’s the crux. He noticed. Your editor very rarely notices when you do something right. That’s your JOB. Your editor notices when you do something wrong. But since he didn’t notice all the times you did it right, he might not immediately just how exactly you screwed up.
So I cut the joke. Who’s going to get a purposeful Jimmy Hendrix misquote anyway? Old people like me? Bah.
I do two passes on any edit. The first time I argue with Michael shamelessly in my comments. No one ever sees that pass. Then I go through and quietly fix everything that’s wrong, deleting the argumentative comments and knowing that I’m doing God’s work.
So I turned in the edit around Monday or Tuesday.
And now we get to the end of the week. I had all my domains redirected. My hosting was now entirely handled by Squarespace. I’d removed all my files from my Verio Server. My domain hosting was there, but I was less than a month away from a hosting bill. So it was time to turn it off.
I found the place in the hosting to turn off my servers, but all my domains seemed to be attached to it. So I put in a customer service ticket asking if deleting that server would affect my domain registrations. They said it would not. Confidently, I deleted the server.
They didn’t actually lie. Verio still held all my domain registrations. However, when you delete that last server from a reseller account at Verio it deletes all the zone files, which is the DNS equivalent of that line in an address book that tells everyone how to find you.
So I went dark. Web sites, email, the whole works. The websites could wait, but email. Can you live without email?
I put in a case immediately with Verio and texted Gary. The first thing he mentioned was that if you delete your last server it deletes your zone files. It would have been GREAT if the customer service people had thought to mention that as well.
I decided there was no going back. I wasn’t going to buy a new server just to get zone files again, so I did some quick research and found that Hover was rated the top registrar in the latest survey, and they give valet transfers for free (basically, someone there does the heavy lifting if something goes badly). So I quickly initiated transfers to Hover.
It took less than four hours. When the transfer went through I got my email up right away and I took care of the business websites when I got home late that night.
Why did I tell you THIS story? Well all of my thinking about his hosting switch boiled down to one simple fact: switching my hosting was bound to have at least one bump and that bump COULD NOT happen when I was making a big push on my book. This is the time to have a messy house. Next year, everything needs to be in perfect order. When you are publishing your first novel, think ahead. Take care of everything you can in the build up, because once that book hits the shelves, every minute of down-time could lose a potential sale.
And this is the longest post I’ve done. But I REALLY want to talk about plotting next week.
[originally posted at: http://www.robertjdefendi.com/main/2015/8/8/your-first-published-novel-part-12]
The next installment awaits...Slouching Towards Amazon: LTUE Post Mortem