In just over four months’ time, my debut novel, The Almost Truth, will be published by Legend Press. I’ve had the two-book contract for well over twelve months, but such is the world of publishing – planning ahead at least a year, more likely two – it’s only in the last few weeks that the process has started to gain momentum.
First came the title. Originally, this book was called But, a title of which I was both fond and thought quite clever – one of the taglines being, ‘All life’s decisions come with a but…’ And in a great example of life imitating art, it was a good title theoretically but it didn’t fit easily on any bookshelf. It had to go. The Almost Truth was born from the fact that Alina (the protagonist’s) life is built on truth, the whole truth…and a few minor but crushing deviations of the truth. Now, of course, I love this title even more.
Next came the cover design. For this, I can take no credit whatsoever. Any creativity I have is in words, not images, and asked for ideas, my mind went blank and stayed that way. It was Commissioning Editor, Lauren Wolf-Jones who came up with the motif of a leaf, and the design team ran with it. The colours, I had thoughts about: red on green just looked like bleeding arteries to me – perfect horror material but my novel isn’t – but the alternative, of muted browns and pinks, is a dream.
The edits were to follow, something that filled me with subliminal anxiety long before I started them: I’m an editor – for other people. What if I couldn’t do my own? Of course I could; I just needed to get my butt into a chair and concentrate. There’s no doubt I was lucky. I frequently hear of authors being required to do weeks, months, of substantial structural edits but The Almost Truth should already have been polished-enough: as But it won the Irish Novel Fair prize and was listed in other awards and competitions and was the basis of my short story in Birlinn’s The People’s City (2022). It should have been more or less there…funny all the errors and quibbles you still find though, especially when there ware four time lines spanning thirty years!
Line edits, content edits – the nitty-gritty – were, however, fantastic. For once I was on the receiving end of someone else’s eagle eye and the process was quick and easy and didn’t require any of the angst I’d carefully saved up.
And that’s where we are now. It’s the professionalism and expertise of Legend Press, of course, that are making it (so far, don’t tempt fate) seamless, and I’m just hanging on, learning. The rights have been sold for an audio book and for a large print version. We’re on track for an April launch. When I know how the next stage actually works – I’ll write a blog sequel.
Happy Christmas to those who celebrate!