Greetings from Melbourne.

I’m secretly quite pleased to be twelve thousand miles from home. Book proofs went out last week.

Aside from finishing the first draft, sending out proofs has to be the most nerve-wracking moment of book writing. Most writers are hysterically attuned to faint praise, to silence, to equivocation, to the absence of genuine enthusiasm.

Which means that if you want to tell someone you don’t like his/her book, there’s no need to spell it out. Any of the following will do:

  1. What an amazing effort!
  2. I don’t know where you get your ideas!
  3. You have such an unusual voice!
  4. I love the beginning!
  5. You’re so lucky to be a writer!

Any writer with half a brain and the requisite overabundance of paranoia knows that none of this is positive feedback. In addition, I, personally, am suspicious of positive feedback from any member of my publishing team, including editor, agent and PR. My ‘usual’ fans (people who seem peculiarly supportive of my writing as a matter of policy) fail to reassure, no matter how enthusiastic their praise. ‘Of course they like it,’ I think. ‘They’re terribly loyal.’

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned my family. That’s because my 13-year-old makes a policy of not reading my books; my husband (the most supportive of readers in early drafts) becomes pathologically negative as we inch towards a final book, and my mother (despite the fact that mothers are traditionally considered reliable fans) does not hesitate to tell me which books have the wrong title and definitely will not sell.

The portents, however, don’t seem too bad. Although the reporting sample is still small, it appears to be enthusiastic. My child read it without the threat of economic sanctions. Spontaneous appreciation has come in from a freelance proofreader. A literary critic with excellent taste texted applause.

OK. It’s a start.

Back in the dark ages when I worked in advertising, a wise guy I worked with used to say “it ain’t funny till everyone laughs.”

I’m a long way from home, and now waiting patiently for the laughs.

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16 thoughts on “Bound proofs. The horror continues.

  1. Em 6 years ago

    My first reaction to this was ‘OMG! OMG!!! My favorite author is in my country!!!’. My second reaction was ‘i wish I lived in Melbourne’!

    Are you coming to Canberra?

    I can’t wait for your new book! Like, I’m just filling in time reading other books until I can get yours.

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      Hi Em — so sorry but not straying out of Melbourne this time. Next time…..and it’s nearly out, just a few short months to wait. Lovely to have you as a fan! xxxxMeg

  2. bookwitch 6 years ago

    What about the spelling mistake I found? (It was there to test me, wasn’t it?)
    ; ))

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      Christ, Ann. Spelling mistake? It IS an uncorrected proof, but I don’t remember spelling mistakes. Or are you winding me up?!

  3. Mik 6 years ago

    Sheila,
    Hate to be a pendant, but you can hardly say that you are “secretly pleased” about something and then put it on your blog. It’s no secret any more.
    Good on ya
    Skippy
    xx

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      Mik
      a. Hardly anyone reads my blog.
      b. You’re not a pendant.
      love, Meg

  4. simmone howell 6 years ago

    Hi Meg,
    Thanks for your talk at the Wheeler Centre – can you please remind me of the Edward Gorey book you mentioned??
    Thanks! Hope enjoy the rest of your antipodean lark…

  5. Meg Spooner 6 years ago

    Hi Meg! I just wanted to say thank you for your talk at the Wheeler Center–particularly impressive when it turned out you’d only just gotten in that morning!

    I was the girl who asked about fear and second book syndrome, and I was so pleasantly surprised and delighted with how helpful your answer was. I think it’s often difficult for authors to give real, meaningful responses in Q&As because time is limited, information is limited, context is limited–and so on.

    Knowing that it’s possible–even if it doesn’t flow with the ease (hah) of the first book–to cobble it together brick by brick, as you say, is a tremendous comfort. It may not always be fun, and it may take forever, but it’s doable. Thanks. <3

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      HI Meg
      Thanks for coming….I’m glad (and only slightly amazed) that it was helpful….!
      Good luck with your book.
      xxMeg

  6. Zac 6 years ago

    Hi Meg,

    Can’t wait to see you at the Wordy Day Out for the Auckland Writer’s Festival on Saturday. I’ve been a huge fan of yours right from the first book and I’m looking forward to hearing you talk about your writing.

    Thanks,
    Zac (Children’s Librarian from Christchurch, NZ)

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      YAY! I can’t wait either! xxx meg

  7. bookwitch 6 years ago

    Would I wind you up?
    I know it’s a proof. I’ll submit the mistake and my invoice.
    Other than that the book was OK, you know…
    (And that was a little bit of a wind-up.) Sorry.

  8. Lucy Christopher 6 years ago

    You’re in my home town!! Hope you enjoy it, Meg! Don’t suppose you’ll still be around for Reading Matters in Melbourne later on in the month? Lucy 🙂

    1. Meg 6 years ago

      Unfortunately not. Heading back to London on Sunday. But I did Reading Matters a few years ago and loved it….it’s a great festival. x

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