Donna Alward shares what happens between writing the book and reading the book.

A friend of mine blogged recently about how Hollywood tends to inaccurately portray the publishing business, for the length of time it takes to get a book from concept to store shelf, to the infamous “let’s go on a book tour!” scenes. It got me thinking – how many readers know what happens between writing the book and reading the book?

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It really is a team effort. And I’m very, very fortunate to have savvy people on my team.

My main contact at my publisher is my editor. Her name is Lizzie and she is sweet and funny and MEAN. Mean in the best possible way, of course…she doesn’t let me off the hook until she has the story exactly where she wants it. And she does it in such a nice way that she somehow makes me excited to be doing all this extra work…

The truth is, writers need help. They need editors. Sometimes we writers get too close to the story to be able to envision what it needs to look like. Kind of a “forest for the trees” scenario. We fall in love with characters and secondary characters and subplots and all sorts of little things… or at least I do. And Lizzie sends me long letters explaining where I need to cut out all the noise and what I need to focus on and then she sends me my book with big slashes through whole sections.

Like a good girl, I almost always do exactly what she says. Why? Because I’ve seen the proof of what happens when I listen to her. I get the book back at a later stage, read it again, and fall in love with it. And marvel that she could see the gem beneath all the clutter that I handed her a few months before. She’s one talented chick, my editor. Oh and did I mention the praise too? Because she does sprinkle that in. Usually in the form of little hearts in the margins, or the word “Love!” scribbled in pencil.

We do revisions, then line edits, and then copy edits after it’s gone to a copy editor and then I finally get the final pass through it when I get “galleys”. This is how the book will look in production and it’s my final chance to look for errors in spelling or formatting or a repeated word… the nitty gritty. Then it goes off to the magic fairies that make it into a book (or a digital file).

All in all I get to see this book at least 4 times after writing it. By that time I can be quite sick of it really. LOL

And of course there is the art department, who have cover meetings and one of the things I love about working with St. Martin’s Press is that my editor and I look at sample covers and talk about what we like and don’t like. I LOVE having input into this process, and quite often Lizzie and I are on the same wavelength so it all works rather nicely.

My work is pretty much done at this point, with the exception of any promotion or marketing I do, in conjunction with my publisher’s marketing plans. All told though? I finished the second book in the series, Treasure on Lilac Lane, last summer. I got revisions late October and didn’t finish them until nearly Christmas – it took a few passes to get things right. Like three or maybe four. We went through line edits… but boy, when I got those proofs earlier this spring? I read through the story and totally fell in love with it. Somehow Lizzie saw through my clutter into the heart of the story and what it was meant to be – and she also knew how to get me to make it live up to its potential. I’m positively thrilled with the result of the follow-up to The House on Blackberry Hill.

Now we’re in the “sending out for early reviews and making marketing plans” stage. And it releases October 28. Fourteen months after I handed in the completed manuscript.

That’s a lot of cups of coffee, cupcakes, and glasses of wine.

Happy reading!

Screen Shot 2014-06-01 at 1.30.29 PMWhen a young woman inherits a rundown mansion, the last thing she expects to find  is the key to her heart…

Abby Foster is a fish out of water in the Maine coastal town of Jewell Cove. The crumbling Foster estate, left to her by a relative she never even knew, has everyone’s eyes on her — an eerie reminder of the long-buried family secrets that have haunted her… forever. Single, stunning, and sometimes too strong-willed for her own good, Abby’s plan is to sell the house and hightail it back to Nova Scotia. But another part of her is intrigued by the idea of starting over somewhere new — and finally learning the truth about her heritage.

Enter Tom Arseneault. The best contractor in Jewell Cove, Tom is determined to restore the beauty and prestige of the Foster mansion — and maybe even work his charms on its beautiful new heir. The attraction between him and Abby is undeniable, and the more time Tom spends on the house the more he wants to be in it with her. But Abby’s not sure she can trust him — or anyone in Jewell Cove who seems to know more about her family history than she does. Home: Is it really where the heart is after all?


A busy wife and mother of three (two daughters and the family dog), Donna Alward believes hers is the best job in the world: a combination of stay-at-home mom and romance novelist. An avid reader since childhood, Donna completed her Arts Degree in English Literature in 1994, but it wasn’t until 2001 that she penned her first full-length novel, and found herself hooked on writing romance. In 2006 she sold her first manuscript. Donna loves being back on the East Coast of Canada after nearly 12 years in Alberta where her Harlequin career began, writing about cowboys and the west. Donna’s debut romance, Hired by the Cowboy, was awarded the Booksellers Best Award in 2008 for Best Traditional Romance.

donnaalward.com

1 comment on “The Pages in Between”

  1. Thanks for the insight on the business of getting a book published. Although I’m not sure Ill ever try to do it, your experience and knowledge is invaluable.

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